This is a delicious naturally gluten-free and vegan dish that is filling and healthy. It might be my absolute favorite food in the world. Inspired by and adapted from Pennythoughts from Wholesome Goodness: http://pennythoughts.wordpress.com/. It's featured in my ecookbooklet So What CAN You Eat? Gluten-free Paleo Vegan (mostly) recipes for Health and Weight Loss, available in the ebooks and resources page.
Spicy Red Lentil and Spinach Stew
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups red lentils
1 can diced tomatoes (I use Rotel with green chilis - yum!)
6 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp Trader Joe's smoked sea salt
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp curry powder
3-5 cups fresh spinach, or 16 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach or other dark leafy green
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Add water, tomatoes, lentils and all the seasonings except the salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes. Add spinach and salt and simmer 10 more minutes or until your greens are as tender as you like. Freezes and reheats very well.
The stew will turn out more green or less green, depending on the green and how finely it is chopped. This batch of soup was made with pretty finely chopped spinach.
I haven't talked much about my weight loss journey, but since it's the season of over-indulgence, I thought I'd share. I was always on the heavy side and decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to be thinner. It was a warm day in late April in 2009, my shorts from the year before were too tight, and my family had joined a neighborhood pool that was set to open in 6-weeks' time. I finally felt like I had had enough and I was ready to do the work to change things.
Like everyone, I had barriers to eating better and exercising more. I have been a vegetarian for a long time, but I was eating lots of cheese and milk and ice cream, so my main approach was to cut out full-fat dairy, cut out snacking, reduce portion size, and start walking. I decided that walking could be sustainable, and that I probably wouldn't be able to keep up with something strenuous or unpleasant. I work full-time, and the only time I had to walk was very early in the morning, while my partner and two kids were still asleep. After a few days of walking and dieting, I felt like I was starving and went on-line looking for motivation to stick with it. I found a great site called PEERtrainer, which has a lot of great articles about changing one's approach to eating (not just about dieting). I got exposed to and began following the Eat to Live approach put forth by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Eat to Live is heavy into high nutrient foods, especially green leafies, and low in animal products and refined carbs like breads. There is no calorie counting; you can eat all the fruits and vegetables and legumes that you want. I also joined some small on-line groups and teams through PEERtrainer, began logging my meals and exercise, and generally found accountability and support. I lost 30 pounds in 6 months, getting down to my goal weight of 125.
Through one of my groups I learned about a website call "Couch to 5K" and decided to give running a try, since I felt like the long walks early in the morning were taking too long, and maybe I could get the same or more benefit if I went faster. Lo and behold, I found I actually LIKED it! I'm still doing it, running 3.75 miles 5 days a week, sometimes longer or more often, so I guess it's pretty sustainable. I also joined a VERY inexpensive gym -- $10 a month -- so that when the weather is too cold or yucky, I can do a circuit workout or treadmill there. And my other other back-up for days that I can't run and can't get myself to the gym are workouts at home. We have the Wii, so I do Wii Fit Plus or EA Sports Active workouts OR I do workouts that are in the On Demand section of our cable subscription. Some days I do really hard ones, like Jillian Michaels. Other days I do much gentler ones, like the walking series by Leslie Sansone. I try not to let myself off the exercise hook very often. It's so much easier for me to stick to the routine than to go day-by-day.
I got the celiac diagnosis a year ago and have gained back 12 pounds. Part of it is likely a function of a healed gut. The other part is that I'm eating more refined carbs. I think it's the psychology of deprivation. Since I can't eat most of the refined carbs in the world, when one crosses my path that I CAN eat, I have a hard time saying no. The good news is that Eat to Live is VERY compatible with a GF diet. I also slacked off on the frequency and intensity of my workouts. I just need to get refocused on why I want to be thinner and return to doing what works. In some ways it's a hard time of year, since there are so many temptations. But in some ways it's easier for me because I know the temptations are everywhere and I can have my healthy eating plan ready to implement when temptation crosses my path.
I hope you'll check out the links above for extra ideas and motivation. I couldn't have lost the original 30 without them, and groups like this one and the ones I mentioned will be key to my re-losing the 12. Oh, and none of them cost me any money. They all do seem to have something to sell, but I used nothing but free content at the websites and got books from the library. (I did buy the EA Sports active for wii, but my kids use it too!)
I recently made the following post to the Celiac listserv. (I highly recommend you join if you have Celiac -- it's a great forum. Go here to learn how):
Hi all. In the last two months I have gotten a crazy itchy rash on my neck like I've never had before. It doesn't look too bad (thank goodness!) though it is a little red and blotchy. I've tried topical hydrocortisone and topical and oral benadryl. Nothing seems to help immediately. Each time the rash has subsided after a couple of days, though it has never gone back to completely normal. My web search didn't yield anything particularly helpful, though it doesn't look like DH at all, and I've been on a strict GF diet for more than a year. I know it could be stress, it could be something new I've introduced to my environment. I know auto-immune disorders run in packs and I just thought I'd throw it out there to see if any of you have ideas before I start making appointments for medical intervention.
I got 31 responses from currrently or previously itchy people, which tells me at least 2 things: 1) there are a lot of itchy celiacs out there, and b) there are some very helpful itchy (or previously itchy) celiacs out there. The suggestions broke down into three sorts of catagories:
I. External environment: Something I wore, shampoo I used, new detergent, something like that. Could have been that fuzzy neck pillow duck I borrowed from my younger son on my trip to Albuquerque last month.
II. Something I ate not related to gluten: perhaps a sensitivity to soy, corn, sugar, dairy. My guess would be soy -- I ate edamame before my last two airplane trips when this happened, and a big dinner of broccoli, yellow peppers and tofu the day before my current round of itchiness.
III. Some sort of gluten contamination that caused Dermatitis Herpetiformis, that special skin condition reserved just for us celiacs, or celiac-related malabsorption of B vitamins, causing a scary looking condition called pellagra. Gosh, I hope it's not either of these! I did run afoul of some gluten on the plane on the way back from Phoenix earlier in the month, but I was already rashy by then, and otherwise I have been quite strict.
Here are some remedies and suggestions for dealing with it:
^Use pure aloe on top of hydrocortisone to treat the rash (done)
^Shampoo with Head & Shoulders (done) or use athlete's foot ointment on the rash
^Switch to hypoallergenic shampoos, lotions, etc. (before or after I finish a regimen with Head & Shoulders?)
^Try Sarna cream
^Keep irritants off my neck as much as possible until it completely clears up
^Try to isolate a dietary cause (I'm thinking soy, so I will not have any more until the rash is completely gone, then will monitor when I reintroduce it)
^Eat buckwheat for B vitamins (had it for breakfast) and nutritional yeast
^Take flaxseed oil (ate flaxseed at breakfast with my buckwheat, will have to get some oil)
^Go to a dermatologist, though LOTS of people who responded got nothing useful from their dermatologists and stumbled across a cure on their own.
If you are an itchy celiac, know that you are not alone! Like I tell my kids -- don't scratch, it only makes it worse! I'm developing a LOT of empathy for people who get rashes.
I've been a vegetarian for many years. When I got the Celiac diagnosis, the only real change to my holiday fare was to exclude Tofurkey, which many omnivores think is a terrible idea anyway, and modify my other recipes. Lots of people are thinking about this right now, so I'm sharing my menu and some other ideas that might inspire you. Plenty of recipes live on-line that you can search and find. If I've got a good one, I'll share the link. If you've got one, share it with me and I'll tell everyone else!
Baked acorn squash, stuffed with rice lentil pilaf with chopped nuts, dates and bits of tofu
GF green bean casserole
Oven roasted root vegetables
Cranberry sauce (homemade by my co-worker TL)
Store-bought GF rolls, warmed in the oven
Impossibly Easy Sweet Potato Pie
Apple crisp (crisp part made with GF flour)
My family will be eating Tofurkey with gravy and Pillsbury crescent rolls, but otherwise, we're all eating the same thing. The most important thing is to stay healthy, enjoy the company, and be thankful!
My mom passed away in 1988 when I was at the tender age of 24. Some of my most vivid and happy memories of family gatherings and parties and dinners include this soup. The smell and the taste of it take me back quicker that anything. I thought the recipe was lost forever, but it turns out that it lived on in my sister-in-law's recipe box. It's delicious! In the photo below you can see my sister-in-law's copy which I've typed up here, and I've noted modifications to make it vegan, still very tasty, and leave the carrots with a little structure.
Sylvia's Split Pea Soup
1 package of split peas
3 boullion cubes (I use gluten-free and vegetarian G Washington's Seasoning and Broth packets, but you could replace some of the water with GF veggie broth too)
4 cups of water
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of celery and tops
1 large clove of garlic, or 1/8 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp salt, and seasoning salt to taste
5 whole pepper corns
6 whole allspice
1 bay leaf
2-3 drops of gluten-free liquid smoke (if you aren't using meat)
Gluten-free ham or ham bone (optional)
Bring peas and boullion to a boil in a large soup pot. Add ham or ham bone (if you must) to the boiling water and add remaining ingredients. Simmer for an hour and a half, stirring frequently. As soup thickens, continue adding water to desired consistency. I added a full four cups of additional water to the peas the last time I made this.
My modifications to mom's recipe: Saute the onions and garlic in the bottom of the soup pot in a little olive oil for a few minutes before adding water and peas. Add all the ingredients except the carrots; after the soup has simmered for 45 minutes or an hour add the carrots so that they retain some personality.