I have been feeling very out of whack since I learned of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I have two sons, ages 9 and 11, and I can barely bring myself to think about those kids, the teachers and staff, the parents and the community. There isn't really a way for me to directly offer support, solace or comfort, which makes me feel helpless. Over the last couple of days, I have had some learnings about what to do and not to do to help myself and my family cope.
1. It's okay to not feel bad every minute. I'm glad the boys and I went to the gluten-free meetup and cookie swap on Saturday. The baking beforehand was enjoyable and productive and I got to spend some time with my 9-year-old making chocolate peppermint cookies. The party itself was very fun.
2. No matter how good all the gluten-free cookies left over from the party are, too much sugar sends me to a rather bleak place. I need to remember that sometimes its easier to eat none than think I can just eat one, which I usually can't.
3. Say yes to interaction and people. Too much screen time or alone time makes it harder for me to pull out of a tailspin. I really wish I had said yes to a game of Apples to Apples with my kids yesterday.
4. Make healthy comfort food. I made my mom's pea soup for dinner. Sometimes you just need your mom.
5. Remember what it's like to be a kid. My boys are troubled by what happened too, but they don't really have the verbal or emotional vocabulary to express it. For the first time in a long time, we all piled in bed together last night. I think it helped all of us.
6. Get some exercise. Even though it's cold and rainy/foggy this morning, my half hour run was a sanity-saver, a moving meditation, that helped me find my emotional bearings.
7. Write. Being able to put your thoughts down on paper is like sharing a burden so that you don't have to carry a heavy load around with you all the time.
8. Listen to music. I've been alternating Charlotte Church and Julia Fordham and October Project on Pandora. It helps.
9. Appreciate EVERYTHING. Tell your family you love them. Watch the sunrise. Look at pictures of happy times. Savor your morning coffee.
10. Convey gratitude. Thank those people who have loved and supported you and kept you safe. Write them a letter. Tell them. Even if they are no longer with us, trust that the effort you put into thanking them will boost the positive energetic vibration that we all occupy.
Peace be with you, today and always.
[Join my final webinar installment rescheduled (because of Hurricane Sandy) for Monday, Nov 5 at 8 pm Eastern, when we'll talk about eating out safely, getting ready for Thanksgiving and the secret to happiness: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E950DE85854738Get the October 22 replay featuring office parties, unsupportive family, and more ideas for food: http://www.anymeeting.com/clairebakerok/EC52DD858648Get the October 15 replay featuring assembling your medical support team, going to parties, Halloween candy and more: http://www.anymeeting.com/clairebakerok/EC51D980804BGet the September 27th replay, an introduction to who should go gluten free and why: http://www.anymeeting.com/clairebakerok/EC50DF898547
Where I live, because we get days and days of notice for the types of natural disasters that favor our area (nor'easters and hurricanes), we are a little spoiled. If our area got plowed by an earthquake or band of tornados, many of us would be caught flat-footed. And of course these things CAN happen on the east coast, so we should be prepared all the time anyway, right?
Like everyone else, those of us with celiac and gluten intolerance need to have ready the basics, like water, flashlights, candles, gas in the car, etc. We also need to know that we have gluten-free provisions to get us through potential power outages. At my house we have a non-electronic ignition gas stove and oven, so we could have kept cooking even if we lost power for an extended period. A natural gas disruption would have posed a big problem. Here are some ideas for foods to have on hand to get you (and us!) through a couple of days without electric. Be sure to have a can opener with your emergency stash! And of course check all your labels.
1) Canned beans. I eat these all the time anyway. Great source of protein, already cooked, Fine eaten cold.
2) A loaf of Udi's bagels in the freezer. I advise that you have this anyway, since Udi's bagels are a sturdy, versatile bread option that can meet a multitude of needs. It'll last the better part of a week once thawed, and will be a good delivery vehicle for your nut butter spreads and just to have.
3) Nuts/seeds and Nut/seed butter. This is a great source of healthy fat and protein to have around. Peanut butter, almond butter, soy butter and sunflower seed butter are excellent shelf-stable items. In our house we usually have something like this already all the time because we have kids that eat it. I'd need to be sure to have a stash of non-cross contaminated butters set aside for emergencies.
4) Raisins, applesauce, or other packaged fruit. If you are like me, you have some fresh fruit and veggies on hand all the time, but it would be good to have something on back-up if the fresh produce runs out before the power comes back on.5) Canned vegetables. Generally no one's first choice, canned veggies can be eaten without cooking.
6 and 7) Chips and salsa. Okay, these probably aren't part of your emergency stash, but maybe they should be.
8) Coffee. My backup plan if we lost power during Sandy (rendering my coffee maker useless) was to make sure my coffee beans were ground beforehand and to use a drip cone with hot water from the stove. If I thought I wouldn't have had access to hot water, I still would have wanted coffee, and instant coffee will mix up fine in cold water (that's my secret for low-labor iced coffee in the summer -- don't tell anyone I use instant!) In a disaster, even cold coffee is better than no coffee.
9) Kind bars or some other gluten-free meal replacement bar. They certainly don't fill me up for a meal, but they are good to have around.
10) If you are omnivorous, I'd advise you have some canned tuna or canned chicken on hand. It'll be good added to the salad below.
Hurricane Sandy's Southwestern Bean Salad
1 can pinto or red kidney beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained (or a cup of frozen corn)
1 can Rotel Lime and Cilantro diced tomatoes (or other salsa or canned diced tomatoes of your choice)
2 celery ribs (if you have it) chopped
1 small onion (if you have it) chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
Cayenne pepper and salt to taste
Combine all ingredients. If you have time, let the bean/tomato/corn mixture sit for a little while so that the flavors can
mingle. Eat by candlelight and be happy you had all of those cans of beans in your pantry!
[Join my final webinar installment: October 29th 8 pm Eastern time, when we'll talk about eating out safely, getting ready for Thanksgiving and the secret to happiness:
http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E950DE85854738October 22 replay featuring office parties, unsupportive family, and more ideas for food: http://www.anymeeting.com/clairebakerok/EC52DD858648September 22nd replay featuring the basics for who should go gluten-free and how to shop for gluten-free foods, stay safe in your own kitchen and eat out. http://www.anymeeting.com/WebConference/RecordingDefault.aspx?c_psrid=EC50DF898547
In my gluten-free webinar series, we have been discussing getting ready for the holidays. One technique to guarantee that you have gluten-free food to eat at parties is to host it yourself or take some excellent dishes to the party at someone else's house. I created a You Tube video featuring three great party foods: Peanut Chili Dip, Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms, and Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates.Peanut Chili Dip
Peanut Chili Dip has been a favorite of ours for a long time. I modified our family favorite to be gluten free.
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 T. water
1 T. Gluten-free tamari
1 T. honey
2 cloves minced garlic
1 T. chili powder
Dash of cayenneMix all the ingredients together. At first it looks like it won't mix together well, but don't worry and keep stirring. Before long it will get a creamy consistency. Serve with baby carrots. You can eat it right away, or chill it for a few hours and let the flavors mingle.
Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms
You definitely CAN make stuffed mushrooms with your favorite gluten-free bread crumbs, but these quinoa-stuffed babies combine an interesting texture with superior nutrition.
24-32 mushrooms, depending on size
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 T. olive oil
1 clove chopped garlic
3 T. chopped kale
1 T. chopped pecans
1 T. Herbs de Provence (or basil or parsley or whatever you are in the mood for)
3 T. cream cheese
2 T. pecorino romano cheese or parmesan cheees
3-4 drops of gluten-free liquid smoke
Preheat oven to 350.
Prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions.
Brush/wash the mushrooms and remove stems.
Saute the garlic, kale, pecans and herbs in olive oil until the kale softens, about 5 minutes. Combine with quinoa, cheeses and liquid smoke in a bowl, stirring until well combined. Stuff the mushroom caps with the quinoa cheese mixture. Arrange on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Delicious warm or served room temperature.
Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates
This is hardly a recipe. It's more of a reminder that you can create easy party food with two ingredients.
enough peanut butter to fill the dates
Depending on the size of your dates, you may want to pit them and stuff the peanut butter inside. For the ones I did for the video, I cut the dates in half, removed the pits, and filled the date "boats" with peanut butter. They were a little sticky, but delicious. I know there are people out there who roll peanut butter stuffed dates in powdered sugar, and the guy at the health food store also recommended using Nutella. And in keeping with the bacon wrapping theme of my October 15, 2012 webinar, I've also seen bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with peanut butter and chocolate on-line. Experiment and have fun!
[My next free webinar installment: Office parties, unsupportive family, and more ideas for food! Send me your favorite party or holiday food pics and recipes and I'll feature them. :-) Monday the 22nd at 8 pm Eastern. Register here: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E950DF86854731]
1. Rent an apartment with a functioning refrigerator and stove. Having a freezer and oven are great too! We were traveling with another couple, so we got a two bedroom apartment for $1,400 for a full week in the 18th arrondissement, the neighborhood called Montmartre not too far from the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. It was close to two subway stops and an excellent bus line, so even though it wasn’t right across the street from the Louvre, it was easy to get to the places we wanted to go. Plus, it was near cute shops, a grocery store, and had that local neighborhood charm. (We found our place through a friend, but I recommend that you check out Vacation Rental by Owner— www.vrbo.com – to find a place. Make sure it is REALLY two-bedroom though, not one bedroom and a couch in the living room if you need a place that size.) But the key reason the apartment was great was that I could make my own breakfast and pack snacks or an interesting second meal for when we were out and about. My key rule is always know where your next meal or snack is coming from, and when in an unfamiliar city without a great command of the language, having your own food is critical.
2. Request the special meal on the plane, but have your own too. We flew USAir from Philadelphia because we wanted a non-stop flight and they had the best price ($1,000 apiece.) We booked on-line and there is no way with USAir to order a special meal without calling them up. You have to find the secret phone number (the info is here: http://shopping.usairways.com/en-US/traveltools/intheair/foodandbeverages/specialmeals.html). They do offer a gluten-free special meal, but nothing for gluten-free vegetarians, so if you are a vegetarian like me, you will certainly want to pack your own food anyway. On the way there I traded my fish for my friend’s fruit salad. On the way home, I ate the rice but left the chicken breast. The main meal they served, if you are omnivorous, looked pretty good. Their supplemental snack near the end of the flights was a pretty sad affair by anyone’s standards.
3. In addition to your food for the plane, pack gluten-free provisions. I packed plenty of gluten-free on-the-go-type foods in the suitcase that I checked which was great, since navigating label-reading at the grocery store and finding equivalent products the health food store were a bit of a challenge. Udi’s bagels were a must (I also packed my toaster sleeve!) And one thing to note: Parisians apparently don’t eat peanut butter. I finally found it at the health food store Naturalia, but it looked like an import from Germany. Go figure!
4. That said, find the Monoprix (grocery store) and Naturalia and various outdoor markets to see what culinary life in Paris is like, and to buy cheese and veggies etc (Monoprix and markets) and any gluten-free crackers or cereal or whatever to have on hand (Naturalia).
5. Take a cutting board and appropriate utensils. Our apartment was great, but the cutting boards and spoons were all wooden and could have been a big source of cross-contamination. I made due without getting a new cutting board, but I did buy a plastic spatula that I could use on the non-stick pans without worry. I brought it home and now I think of Paris every time I use it.
6. Before you go, get/make a list of gluten-free friendly restaurants by arrondissement, with notes about hours and days, and follow them on Facebook. I didn’t realize until I got there that arrondissement number = zipcode. For example, the Louvre in the 1st arrondissement which is in 75001. This made it much easier to identify our likely lunch or dinner venue based on what we were going to be doing that day. Be sure to double check their hours. Unsurprisingly, their websites and Facebook pages are IN FRENCH, so I goofed a couple of times and took us to restaurants that weren’t open. Since I don’t speak French I was reluctant to call ahead. Get over this fear and save yourself many extra miles on your already tired feet! Carry your list around with you. I'll post my list here soon, I promise!
7. Get a weekly Paris Metro (public transportation) pass. For around 24 euros, you can go everywhere. This gets you to and from your apartment to museums and those far flung gluten-free dining gems. If you are from a city and are familiar with subways, it’s actually easier to use than many. Here’s a website that explains it: http://parisbytrain.com/paris-train-metro-week-pass-navigo-decouverte/
8. Have a plan each day. It’s much less stressful if you know when and where your meals are coming from each day. Even if you don’t decide until the night before or the morning of, have a concrete picture of how you expect to get your nutritional needs met safely. If you don’t plan and get hungry while you are out and about, you are more likely to make risky decisions.
9. Plan for picnics. Paris is loaded with great parks, gardens and random green spaces. Take advantage of them! Be one of those people who lounge about, looking tranquil and eating apple slices with brie and drinking sparkling water. We planned a picnic and happened upon a flash dance mob (that conjures an image, doesn’t it?) Actually we think it was just an outdoor dance rehearsal in a park, but it was fun to watch and a really excellent Paris experience.
10. Take pictures of the food, the place and the menu to help you remember where you had the best success. Post them on-line! Sell your list on Fiverr.com! Tell others in the gluten-free community where you had success so that we can live vicariously through you and we can collectively have pleasantly memorable international travel experience.
I attended my first Appetite for Awareness
event in October of 2010, right after I got my celiac diagnosis. I blogged about it here: http://www.clairebakerok.com/1/post/2010/10/gluten-free-glutton.html
. I'm afraid I didn't have much restraint or pace myself very well then. I don't want to leave this year's event feeling like I have to wear my stretchy pants for the next week. Because this is is a definite must-attend festival, I thought I'd offer some tips to the uninitiated for having the best day possible.
1) Have a plan. There is a LOT of food there: restaurants have their standard menu items, product reps have samples of packaged items, bakeries bring cupcakes and cakes and cookies galore. I haven't quite decided my approach, but I will either: a) focus on the fare offered by restaurants I want to try, b) find the best pizza in the place, or c) find the best sweets in the place. NOT ALL THREE. I swear.
2) Go hungry. Think of it as brunch on gay time. Or maybe just have a light breakfast so that you aren't so hungry when you get there that you blow your plan.
3) Don't bring home samples of food that you will regret having in your house later. Or just get ONE sample pack to SAMPLE, not to stock your pantry with. As a rule, gluten-free packaged foods are NOT health foods.
4) Plan on salad for dinner if you have any desire to eat when you get home.
5) Take time to appreciate that just about everybody there gets it
. That just doesn't happen very often.
6) Use SEPTA to get there and back. Save yourself the driving and parking hassle. You'll have a big tote bag of stuff when you leave and you can use your train ride time to check it out. Or you can rest your eyes and be filled with the warmth of a 100% gluten-free belly.
7) Remember to patronize the restaurants and vendors who supported the event throughout the year. The more it pays for them, the more other restaurants will notice and hopefully fall in line.
There are probably more tips, but that's a good start. Have fun, go home full but not feeling gross. See you there!
Join me on my free, fun and interactive happy gluten-free webinar to get the facts about who benefits by going gluten-free, strategies to avoid it, and how to get the support you need.
September 27, 9 pm
Can't make that time? Register anyway and I'll let you know how to get access to the replay.
[May is Celiac Awareness Month, and I’m giving away copies of my ecookbooklet: So What CAN You Eat? Gluten-free Paleo Vegan (mostly) Recipes for Health and Weight Loss, to all who join the mailing list. Visit the homepage here. 19 fast, easy recipes!]
When I first went gluten-free, I had a little help from a friend about what to buy, but mostly I looked at the shelves and freezer cases of the gluten-free replacement products and didn’t know where to begin. Corn pasta or quinoa? Tapioca bread or some mixed grain thing? More often than not, I let a major deciding factor be that of price. I figured if I started with the least expensive and kept moving up the scale until I found something palatable, then I would eventually identify my go-to purchases. With the exception of Udi’s bagels
, I had very few Eureka! moments (well, other than if you add enough milk, eggs and cinnamon to make bread pudding a girl can actually choke down a loaf of tapioca bread…). If I had to do it over again, I’d have sought out the advice from a real gluten-free foodie, bought what they buy, and just stuck with those except when feeling adventurous or wanting to try something new.
Not long ago I asked the celiac listserv
for their recommendations for stuffed pastas and egg noodles and got some great suggestions. One woman who replied gave me this feedback
on the new bread from Kinnikkinnick. She and her daughter, both gluten-free for more than 10 years, are passionate about food. They have done lots of product reviews and, in fact, her daughter was once gluten-free food editor for Foodista
. I asked if she would share their go-to gf recommendations and she gladly put together this list, asking for no credit or attribution, but just wanting to help people navigate the world of gluten-free products for maximum enjoyment and satisfaction. Here are her suggestions (and note her full disclosure for being a sales rep for Glutenfeeda) and also my full disclosure that I haven't tried most of these suggestions, (but I plan to!):
Here is my very short list of the gf essentials in our house. We are foodies and do like to cook. We are not huge bakers but do bake! And in the interest of full disclosure, while I have been a Celiac for over a decade I do work for a manufacturer as a sales rep... Glutenfreeda.
Our favorites in the pantry: pretty slim but we are foodies and this is all we truly need* Jules Gluten Free Flour (for anything and everything using standard recipes) * Kinnikinnick Panko Crumbs * Pamela's Cornbread ( I use the traditional recipe but bake it in a iron skillet) * Pamela's Pancake Mix (but generally we make crepes with corn starch or I use almond flour) * Better Batter Brownie Mix (in a pinch but I prefer my old Ghiradelli brownie recipe using Jules Flour) * Gluten Free Mama's Pie Crust Mix (truly fabulous) * Better Batter Flour nice to have on hand if you make homemade egg rolls, or Fry Bread..the rice blend lends itself very well for frying * Dakota Lakes Gourmet Coating .. just nice to have on hand . I often mix it with the Panko Crumbs for a spiced coating on chicken tenders or baked fish..Frozen:* Feel Good Foods Egg rolls and dumplings * Garlic Jim's pizza when I am too lazy or in a hurry to make Pizza Dough with Jules Flour Bread and Pasta:
* Kinnickinick Buns and Bread (frozen) * La Veneziane pastas (pantry) * Orgran Spirals (pantry) We're Jewish so...
* Eena Kadeena Mock-zah Ball Mix * Eena Kadeena Mandel Cookies Not marketed as gf but essential for our lifestyle (aka to busy to make from scratch):
* Cream of Buckwheat (Wolffs') * Wolff's Kasha * Sweet Rice Flour * Rice flour wrappers for sushi and spring rolls * Corn Starch for crepes (sweet and savory) * Almond flour (mainly because I prefer almond flour pancakes) * Lundberg's Risottos and Rice blends If I had kids at home still: I would probably also stock the K-Toons, or the plethora of cookies out there but now I just make up batches of my favorite recipes , roll them into balls and freeze for bake on demand.And I do eat our oatmeal often, as well as the burritos and pizza wraps Glutenfreeda Oatmeal, Burritos, Pizza Wraps and Granola :-) That's it...I cannot think of one thing that I cannot make with the above on hand. I use any recipe I come across from Liebowitz's "to die for" German Chocolate Cake to Curtis Stone's Cheese Biscuits.
So Thank you, anonymous gluten-free food aficianado for sharing your list and hopefully making life easier for others!
Last night's No Starch Stirfry
Cauliflower, broccoli, a red pepper past it prime, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, and a tablespoon of walnuts, sauteed in a tablespoon of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook it til you're bored. Include onions and add gf soy sauce and serve over rice for a more traditional stirfry. Personally, I'm working on minimizing grains, and the great taste is driven by the veggies. Make a lot and enjoy!
I was so taken with the attractiveness of my dinner last night that I snapped a picture of it and shared in on Twitter in a short conversation with @gfdougie (who also has a helpful blog: http://glutenfreetip.com/
). I was flattered when he asked for the recipe, because it is essentially just fresh vegetables cut up and and a tablespoon of chopped walnuts sauteed in a little olive oil in a non-stick pan with some Trader Joe's smoked sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and sometimes (but not last night) I throw on some nutritional yeast. If you are thinking "I could never take the time to chop all those veggies," here are some tricks:
1) Buy them already cut up if possible. Produce Junction sells bags of broccoli florets. It's easy to find mushrooms already sliced. A nutritionist friend of mine suggested this to me a long time ago, and I felt strangely freed from the guilt of not doing all the chopping myself.
2) Since many fresh veggies are fine eaten raw, chop them big (which goes much faster) and cook them longer or shorter depending on your patience level. This won't work for folks who have trouble with raw veggies, but I find them most enjoyable when there is still some structure left to them. Not crunchy exactly, but that place between crunchy and soft. "Cook it til you're bored" is a common phrase in our house for recipes.
3) See my blog post on Beans and Greens
(another common go-to dinner in my house) for other ideas for seasonings to keep things interesting. Keep it easy!
I've recently become a BIG FAN of Kind Bars -- nutty and fruity and I want to eat them like candy bars. Hundreds of calories consumed in less than a minute. I need to stay away from them.
Fortunately there are many options. Since we're loaded with post-Easter hardboiled eggs around here, I thought it would be a good time to share my video with tips for fast, easy, cheap, healthy gluten free snacks and breakfasts. Your tips?
Scott, Sara and me in the midst of a terrific day.
It's back-to-work Monday after a beautiful, fun, family-filled holiday. By the end of yesterday evening, my friend (and third cousin once removed!) Sara and I were commiserating about our lack of enthusiasm for the coming work week. Later in the evening, My younger son Scott was also feeling sad and though the boys have one extra day off before school starts, there was a general feeling of let down and blah about the place.
Scott tends to have fears about things, so while we were on our evening walk with the dog in our sedate and picturesque suburban neighborhood, I gave him some of my sage advice, taken from a Xena episode (and those people borrowed heavily from MANY sources): We eventually become what we pretend to be. It's also the inscription on the plaque from my martial arts instructors and pals when I got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do in 1997. I suggested to Scott that when he feels frightened that he pretend he's really the bravest boy around and that he can handle anything. By the end of the walk we both had conquered the fear of barking dogs and on-coming vehicles and hastily-approaching pedestrians and were laughing and comparing our superhero costumes, blatantly disregarding Edna Mode's "No Capes" advice. Even Bugsy the schnauzer had one. It helped and we were both feeling a little better.
This morning while out on my run I remembered that the 27th anniversary of my coming out of the closet is this week. I can so vividly remember how scared and freaked out I was. I didn't have a picture in my head of what a happy gay person looked like, so in the vaccuum of it, I conjured all kinds of unpleasant outcomes for myself. If I had known then that my life now would be as healthy and happy as it is and that I would have a wonderful spouse and kids, I wouldn't have been worried at all.
Finally, I reminded myself of all of the gifts in my life: An Abundance of Love, Family, Health, Purpose. What's to feel blue about?
I'm putting all these things into my strategy for finding the joy in this Monday:
1) Come from a place of gratitude and accept the contribution and learning from my current situation
2) Remember where I want to be and imagine how it will feel when I make it my reality
3) Act as if I've already reached it and enjoy the experience
I hope you had a great weekend too, and that your week ahead is bright.
Technology is amazing.
And to answer a couple of questions:
1) Is the kitchen at the top of my website my actual kitchen?
Yes it is! Well, in my mind anyway. Got to have something to shoot for, right? My current kitchen is featured in the video below.
2) What kind of camera do I use for my videos?
Camera, shamera. It's my iPhone! I can upload directly to YouTube. Amazing.
3) Why haven't I figured out to turn the phone sideways so that it's oriented on the screen correctly?
Ah, but I have! I just haven't demonstrated my learning. Plus I need to do an experiment to figure out which way to turn it so that I don't do a video all upside down.
4) What editing software do I use?
None! You'll note that they are all expertly done in one take. If I really goof up, I start over. It's sort of the difference between stage and screen. No telling what kind of excitement might unfold in this "live" format!
5) Is this all I do all day?
No! Not yet, anyway. Mostly I go to a day job and then I spend meaningful time with my family on the evenings and weekends! And I work out! But still, I want to do this more.
Thanks for visiting!
Oh, and check out my video tips on how to live happy and gluten free even if you share your space with gluten-eaters.