Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vegetarian, Gluten Free Enchiladas

A favorite meal at my household for all is vegetarian enchiladas. They are very easy and quick to made, which is great because we have a toddler and never seem to have enough time. I sometimes use plain corn tortillas or brown rice ones I buy at the store.


Corn Tortillas
Pinto Beans, Cooked
Onions, Diced
Summer Squash, Diced
Peppers, Diced


Preheat oven to 350. Sauté the onions. When they are translucent, add the summer squash and peppers. Cook for five minutes until tender. Set aside.

Scramble the eggs and cook them in a separate pan.

You can sauté each tortilla in oil in a heated pan if you aren't watching your fat intake, or just rub a little oil on the outside. Not added any oil will mean your tortillas will be dry and crispy. Add the beans, eggs, vegetables, and cheese. Bake in the oven for ten minutes.

After removing the enchiladas from the oven, add the guacamole and salsa to taste.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Is Gluten Free Baking TOO Complicated for YOU?

One of my mother's favorite complaints is the amount of food I keep at my house, which is funny because we have a hard time keeping the food that we want on hand. For a long time, my gluten free baking was the largest section of all in my pantry. I had 30 kinds of flours and mixes, not to mention the usual items: baking soda, baking powder, flavorings, nuts, sugars, etc. I mostly try to follow her advice, though to make tasty, gluten free baked goods, you often NEED several kinds of flour and to follow the recipe exactly. Missing a cup of one type of flour means you must rush out to the store to buy it.

Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour
However, there is a solution. If you want to simplify your gluten free pantry so that you need only ONE type of flour, I recommend Bob's Red Mill's All Purpose Baking Flour. This flour is very versatile and it has the health benefit of garbanzo bean flour being its first ingredient. Note that this won't work well for breads requiring the dough to rise. You can instead buy mixes as you need them.

Some healthy, gluten free diet advocates recommend sticking only to nut flours, although I feel that is excessive for most gluten free individuals and unnecessary. It IS a good idea to include those flours in your baking. And I DO recommend going of all grains, at least temporarily, if you have Candidae or if grains seem to cause gastrointenstinal distress even after going off all gluten. Although when I had an skin allergy test, I reacted to almost every commonly used grain, by going through the elimination diet several times, I determined I'm only symptomatic with wheat, barley, rye, oats, and dairy. Most grains don't bother me, so my only concern is a healthy, gluten free/dairy free diet and eating enough to fuel my exercise habit.

I often use this flour, or a mix that I combine myself, add about a teaspoon of xanthum gum, and follow a regular, wheat flour recipe for cookies, pies, and sweet breads. For dessert-type of baked goods, it almost always turns out great! For breads that require the dough to rise, you'll need to be more careful and follow the directions as precisely as possible unless you want to experiment many times.

What type of flours do you use? Please leave a comment below:

Monday, December 16, 2013

8 Tips for Preparing for the Holiday Stress

When this time of year rolls around, I’m filled with mixed emotions – excitement over baking, decorating, and family gatherings AND anxiety over the possibility of overeating sweets, getting the wrong gifts, and conflicts with family members. If you’re like me, you need an arsenal ready for preparing for the stress to come.

1.       Prepare

First, load up on whatever you do to lower stress NOW before the holidays really kick in – yoga, running, hiking, listening to music, etc.

Also, if you know you’ll be eating nothing but cookies, pie, and ham at your great-aunt’s house next week, load up on vegetables and fruit now. It might not help with the sudden lack of fiber, but it WILL help prevent vitamin deficiencies.

2.       Diet

Try to continue eating as healthily as possible by BRINGING YOUR OWN FOOD. I'm always in favor of this. You'll feel better, your host will feel relieved, and it is better than needing to rush out to the grocery store on Christmas Eve.

Healthy snacks will give you more energy and keep you from feeling tired and cranky as you’re rushing through traffic from one holiday gathering to the next. If you’re going to a place where gluten free food is scarce, pack full meals if you must and limit your stay accordingly.

3.       Plan Ahead

If you have to drive nine hours with your ten kids, it’s especially important to plan breaks to get out and walk or play and pack healthy, gluten free snacks. All  this means planning ahead.

Also, it is important to have a back-up plan, such as what will you do if you’re stuck in a blizzard and the traffic grinds to a halt? You could stay at a hotel, of course, but if that’s outside your budget, you could just stop for a while at a museum, mall, or playground on your route. Studying your route in advance and having reliable internet service can help.

4.       Drink Water

This will curb your overeating, keep you feeling good, and prevent fatigue. Don’t underestimate the power of hydration. For long car rides, remember it’s more important to be stopping for bathroom breaks than to become tired from dehydration.


5.       Sleep

People who get a full eight hours of sleep a night are healthier AND less likely to be overweight. It also reduces stress.

6.       Meditate

If you’re trying to lose weight or keep to a healthy diet, meditating for a few minutes each morning with this in mind can help you stick to your goal.

7.       Don’t set your goals too high!

Planning not to eat any sweets or refined carbs will almost certainly result in failure. For me, it’d be impossible to say ‘no’ if a relative made a special, gluten free dessert or loaf of bread for me. The hard part might be sticking to just a small serving. You can solve this by taking one cookie and a spoonful of fruit salad or an apple, if they are available.  


8.       Relax

Lastly, remember that the holidays really only last a short time. If you fall off your diet plan, such as eating too many cookies, remember that doesn’t mean you’ve completely blown it. You can go right back to following a healthy diet as soon as everything normalizes again. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may need to run, swim, or walk a few extra miles.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ten Tips on Fueling an Active, Gluten Free Lifestyle

Do you like to run? Lift weights? Compete in triathlons? And are you trying to do this while sticking to a gluten free diet? If so, these tips are for you.

1. Protein

This is important whether you're an athlete who is on or off the GF diet plus it's important for anyone on the GF diet since protein can be skimped on easily. Make sure you get the right amount of protein for your weight - roughly half. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need 75 grams of protein per day. Add extra if you're trying to build muscle.

I highly recommend PlantFusion Pea Protein for anyone who is dairy free.

2. Before Workout Snack

Eat a snack 30 - 60 minutes before a workout. This can be as simple as half a banana, but it also could be some whole grains and protein.

3. Post-Workout Snack

This should be eaten within 2 hours of a workout and should be protein-packed. There are many options available. You can do a Kind protein bar, a smoothie, eggs, meat, peanut butter on bread or with fruit, nuts, or yogurt, for example.

4. Smoothies

I use the PlantFusion Pea Protein in my smoothies, but if you eat dairy, whey protein can be good too. Adding some berries, bananas, almonds, and mild-tasting vegetables can give any protein smoothie and extra edge.

5. Sleep

If you've started a new workout regimen or are trying to move on to the next level in your fitness level, make sure you get an hour of sleep more than you would normally need. For most people, that's at least 9 hours.

If you have trouble sleeping, try sticking to the same bedtime and wake up time every night and don't go more than a day without a good workout. Your body won't be able to adjust if it's used to workouts daily and you skip. If you wake up and find you can't sleep, five to ten minutes of yoga each night can help. Also, eating a sleep-inducing snack before lying down can help, such as whole grain bread, eggs, a banana, or a glass of milk.

6. Watch the Sugar

Too much sugar can cause energy lows and will also make healthy food less palatable. Reduce or eliminate the sugar especially first thing in the morning and in the two hours before going to bed. If you have a sweet tooth that fruit won't satisfy, eating something salty probably will help.

7. Veggies

What they say is true. The vitamins and minerals in vegetables will make you healthier and a better athlete. Duh!

For tips on adding vegetables to your diet, check out my post "Five Easy Ways to Add Veggies into Your Gluten Free Diet."

8. Eat Enough

This may seem silly, but no, really. The gluten free diet is hard and if you're trying to only eat healthy foods, it's easy to skimp on something many Americans struggle with - calories. If you've hit a plateau in your performance, consider counting calories to make sure you're getting enough. Do you feel shaky after workouts? It could be that you need more calories. Note: This doesn't mean reaching your calorie demands by eating junk food. Plan ahead and bring healthy snacks along with you. Eat BEFORE you're hungry.

If you're reluctant to eat more because you're trying to lose weight, you'll likely be sacrificing your performance for weight loss - AND the weight loss may fail. You may choose to lose the weight and then become more serious about your competitions. Another option (my preferred one) is to first work on building muscle, then once they are established, cutting the calories a little. When you just start lifting weights or begin a new fitness program, sometimes it's hard to suppress the hunger. My recommendation is DON'T TRY! Just pick something healthy to eat! After a few months, you might be surprised by how much thinner you look and how much weight you lost without even dieting.

9. Hydrate

Hydration includes both water and electrolytes. Most GF people don't eat out a lot, which also cuts out a lot of sodium. If you're sweating and drinking a lot of water, that can wash the electrolytes out of your body quickly. There are plenty of sports drinks available, though I've never been a fan because they are usually very sweet. Coconut water is something many people enjoy. You can also eat salted popcorn and add salt to your meals when you otherwise might not. Salt isn't something GF athletes should be trying to avoid unless a doctor specifically recommends it or unless you know you usually consume too much.

10. Whole Grains

This is especially important for an athlete with prolonged workouts, such as long bike rides or runs of more than half an hour. You need carbohydrate reserves for these workouts. Be sure to eat more quinoa, buckwheat, teff, brown rice, or whatever your grain of choice is the day before a long race or work-out. Check out my article on Whole Grains for more gluten free whole grain ideas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Five Easy Ways to Add Veggies Into Your Gluten Free/Dairy Free Diet

1. Eat Your Veggies First

You may use this on your kids and it's a great trick for adults too. Vegetables are filling and often take a while to chew, so get them into your body first before you're tired of eating or too full!

2. Add Spinach to a Yummy Smoothie

I do this almost daily because it's the easiest way to get leafy greens and oranges into my toddler and enough protein into me.

She LOVES them!!! She gets so excited once I turn on my blender. If you're too busy some days to turn on the blender and clean up, you can freeze smoothies in ice cube trays and then transfer them into freezer bags to get a stockpile of it ready for you to grab before leaving the house. It's also great to have it frozen for a road trip so it stays good for longer.

Here's my favorite recipe:

1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup strawberries
1 banana
1 orange
1 scoop of pea protein (vegan, gluten free)
1/2 cup of frozen spinach

3. Make Your Salad Taste Good

If I try to "watch the salad dressing" the way diet experts recommend, I just don't eat salad! The only way around not using dressing for me is to add raisons, chopped apples, peas, sunflower seeds, and other toppings in with the salad mix. And, yes, I have lost a lot of weight that way. I lost 30 pounds mostly by eating A LOT of salads starting before and after I became gluten free.

4. Replace Meat with Beans

Since I used to vegan before realizing I couldn't eat gluten, I never considered beans to be vegetables, but they are. If you are used to meat and potatoes three meals a day like many Americans, try one vegetarian day a week at first and replace the meat with tasty bean dishes, such as fried tofu, pinto bean enchiladas, a hummus, avocado, and egg sandwich, or vegan lasagna with tofu rather than meat. If you eat dairy, try not to replace meat with cheese since that can be very fattening.

5. Curb Your Sweet Tooth

If you give up sugar for a week, veggies WILL taste better. Also, if you ever feel like any food that isn't sweet bores you, giving up sugar, at least temporarily, is a MUST!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Five Tips on Balancing Your Career and a Gluten Free/Dairy Free Diet

Since I had to travel overnight for work regularly for five and a half years, all while trying to maintain a gluten free diet, I've learned a lot about WHAT NOT TO DO. This is a list of what TO DO to help other gluten free people in a demanding career that requires overnight travel.

1. Bring Your Own Food

It's better to BRING YOUR OWN FOOD and not eat it then to NOT HAVE ENOUGH.
After a rough first couple of years, I learned to bring a large cooler with healthier food, such as soy milk, salad mix, fruit, homemade bread, beans, hummus, and smoked salmon. Just relying on the "free breakfasts" in the morning and whatever I can find through the day is PLANNING TO FAIL, and it meant I fought hunger and fatigue all day long.

For travelling on an airplane, pack a bunch of food in the checked baggage. DO NOT try to rely on finding a grocery store nearby your hotel! While in an unfamiliar town, it can be stressful to rush from one meeting to the next all day, then try to find a grocery store near the hotel. It also may be more expensive at a random store than the discount products you're used to buying online or at your usual grocery store. It takes extra personal time up front to buy food and pack, but it's best if you have everything you'll need already with you.

Pack extra protein bars and be sure to pick foods without any or hardly any sugar since that will just make you hungrier. Remember not to eat sugar before going to bed and to limit it at breakfast for the same reason. I would pack some healthy foods like beans, fruit, and nuts to balance my diet out because I find most restaurants who serve gluten free meals can only do white rice or potatoes, meat, and vegetables.

2. Request a Room With a Refrigerator and a Microwave

Do this when you make your hotel/motel reservation several days or weeks before your trip. Don't make the mistake of showing up and then asking - many establishments won't have any to offer.

3. Pack a Microwaveable Bowl and Silverware

If you plan to eat a bowl of soup or cereal, using the plastic cups in the room can be annoying and they tip more easily. Plus, there aren't always plastic utensils offered in hotel rooms. Bringing your own is well worth the trouble.

4. If Possible, Find Restaurants That Can Serve Gluten Free Ahead of Time

This can be risky, depending on how sensitive you are and whether you're celiac, sensitive, or allergic. If eating out is a constant worry, you may want to try the Fearless Gluten-Free Dining Course.

I have found in most urban areas, gluten free, dairy free meals can be found at a few restaurants. It was only when I went to southwest Virginia or southern Virginia that I was in trouble. I could sometimes find an Outback Steakhouse or a sushi establishment off a major highway.

Nonetheless, if you are going to a large city, check for restaurants with a gluten free menu or gluten free options. Call ahead to check about cross-contamination and the kitchen cleaning practices.

If you're going to a conference where there will be food provided, it's best to call the conference center AHEAD OF TIME to see how GF friendly they are and give them a heads up about the times you will be eating there. I've seen a huge change over the last few years, so don't automatically assume you can't eat ANYTHING. Usually, I can get a special plate, though be sure to ask a server before you sit down for this so everyone else at the table doesn't have to wait. At a formal setting, most people will, despite all the prodding you can muster, wait for you to be served.

5. Pack Snacks!!!

This is a big one for me, since I like to eat small snacks throughout the day and it helps keep my energy up. I've found the most important time for me to snack is when I'm often not hungry - between 10 and 12 a.m. That's when I eat a high-protein Kind Bar, nuts, or a hard-boiled egg. If you eat dairy, plain yogurt, kefir, or cheese can be a great way to add calcium and protein. For other snack ideas, please see my post, "Five Gluten Free Foods to Eat When You Get the Munchies."

Please leave comments below.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Hot Cereal

Bob's Red Mill's Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal is a good gluten free hot cereal and easier on the budget than most dried cereals. It has whole grain brown rice, sorghum, and buckwheat and some corn to add some sweetness. It has 4 grams of protein serving, 4 grams of fiber, and 6% iron. It keeps the hunger down until lunchtime, especially when eaten with nuts and some of eggs.