Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our first gluten free Christmas

We recently discovered that both Ryann (oldest daughter) and I are gluten intolerant.  Which kinda sucks considering that gluten based products made up about 95% of our diet.  But, I was feeling really run down and tired, scatter brained and just completely not right.  I decided it was time to make some changes.  After reading an  article  about gluten intolerance I thought maybe the first change to take place should be to rid myself of gluten.   I decided to do a trial run and go two weeks gluten free, Ryann came along for moral support.  Within three days we both agreed that we could breath easier and our appetites had decreased.  By the end of the first week we had both lost a few pounds, our skin looked and felt better and we both just generally felt better - a lot better.  By the end of the second week we were both hooked.  Our digestion was better, our thinking was clearer - everything was better.  I won't lie, gluten free veganism isn't exactly easy.  It takes some effort, only because almost all premade vegan products are loaded with vital wheat gluten.  On long days of filling orders I can't just run to the grocery store and pick up some quick Amy's dairy free burritos, or vegan Boca burgers (which I did all to often.)  We're making  almost everything from scratch, but it helps  force us to premake meals so there's a lot less grabbing quick prepackaged foods; which is a very good thing.  Keep in mind that neither of us are severely allergic to gluten, there's no anaphylactic shock or anything drastic going on here.  There's just this mild yet constant discomfort, just enough to make life stink but not enough to let you know something's going wrong.  If you feel like somethings off, or maybe that you could use a dietary change I strongly recommend taking a break from gluten.  It may prove to be life changing.  It was for me.
There are seven of us, the Mister and I plus five kids.  Only two of us have noticed a distinct positive change since going gluten free.  The rest are clinging to their seitan, and other gluteny foods for dear life.  I've been preparing two meals each night to accommodate everyone.  For Christmas dinner I decided to make all of our holiday favorites gluten free and refused to cook two meals.  We had stuffed peppers, Sicilian rice balls, brussels sprouts with roasted pine nuts and red peppers and a tossed garden salad.  For St. Nick we left out gluten free oatmeal chocolate chip & walnut cookies  and oatmeal raisin cookies.

I stuffed the peppers with roasted chick peas, cashews, brown rice couscous and a pepper and small onion that were diced and sauteed in olive oil.  I topped the stuffed peppers with mozzarella style daiya and an Italian topping made from Almond meal, lemon juice, oregano, S&P, garlic powder and onion powder.  I tossed the chick peas in olive oil and smoked paprika before roasting them for about 40mins at 400 degrees.  Roasted Chickpeas are good enough to eat by themselves.  If you haven't tried them yet you should get to it!
Brussels Sprouts with pine nuts and red peppers is one of my all time favorite dishes to make.  I like mine extra garlicky.  First I blanch two pounds of brussels sprouts for about 5 mins. I drain and set them aside.   I saute about 5 cloves of garlic thinly sliced in some olive oil just until they start to turn golden brown.  I throw in about a cup of pine nuts  and saute for another minute or two.  I add about a cup of thinly sliced red peppers and cook for another two minutes.  I add a bit of lemon juice (about 1/3 of a cup) then add the blanched brussels sprouts and freshly ground sea salt and pepper and cook for a little bit more.  You can transfer everything to a baking dish and roast for a bit in the oven until the brussels sprouts are crispy, but I don't.  I serve it right from the pan. Crusty bread is the next task for me to tackle.  The grocery stores around here carry packaged gluten free breads but they all suck.  I serve the Brussels sprouts with brown rice and brown rice couscous, but it pairs really well with a good bread.  If you have any tips for making an excellent  vegan and gluten free multigrain loaf of bread please, please. please pass it on.  I'm desperate!

Nobody seemed to notice the lack of wheat in their Christmas dinner.  St. Nick definitely didn't pass up the cookies our youngest left out for him.  I think my days of cooking duel meals are numbered.  
For the new year I'll have to figure out how to make a vegan and gluten free buffalo wing.