Archive | August, 2012

Gluten-Free Cornmeal Flatbread Recipe

18 Aug

I obtained this recipe from the book Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.  I actually made this before going gluten-free and really enjoyed it.  It’s simple and tasty!  Give it a whirl!

Cornmeal Flatbread (Makes 4 servings)

*2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil/coconut oil

*1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour

*1/2 tsp xanthan gum

*1/2 cup cornmeal

*1/2 tsp kosher salt

*1 (14-oz) can coconut milk (light/regular)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pour oil into 10″ ovenproof skillet/pan and place in oven for 5 minutes or until oil is hot.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Make a well and pour in coconut milk.  Whisk to combine.  Mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter.  Remove the skillet from the oven, pour mixture into bottom of hot skillet, and return to oven.  Bake for 1 hour until flatbread is browned and firm to the touch.  Remove from oven and allow flatbread to chill in pan for a few minutes.  Then slide out and cut into 4 wedges.

Gluten-Free for a Healthier Me?

6 Aug

Celiac’s disease is an autoimmune disease.  Essentially, this means that the body attacks itself.  Sounds scary, right?  It is!  Specifically, in celiac’s disease, the body destroys its own intestinal villi.  These villi are necessary for the proper absorption of the nutrients provided by the foods we eat.  What triggers such a reaction?  For folks with celiac’s disease, it’s gluten.

With all of the new gluten-free options popping up in restaurant chains and on supermarket shelves, many people are aware of the fact that gluten may be problematic for at least some portion of the population.  However, there is great confusion over what gluten is and even a debate over how pervasive the problem actually is.

Gluten is a component of certain grains.  It is the storage protein of wheat, barley, and rye, for example.  Oats cause a lot of confusion.  Most people with celiac’s disease can tolerate a moderate amount of oats.  However, due to the nature of processing, many oats are cross-contaminated with gluten.  To be on the safe side, people with celiac’s disease should only consume oats that are certified gluten-free.

A blood test combined with an intestinal biopsy is the usual route of diagnosis.  To be tested, you must still be eating gluten.  Otherwise the results may be invalid.

One of the trickiest aspects of celiac’s disease is that its symptoms manifest differently among its sufferers.  Gastrointestinal complaints are common but not always present.  In other words, your digestive system may truck along just fine but your achy joints could be your warning signal.  Worst of all, you may not have any obvious symptoms at all while your body is actually at war, causing unseen damage. Yikes!

Any of the following symptoms may be seen in a person with celiac’s disease:

*Diarrhea, constipation or intermittent diarrhea and/or constipation (IBS essentially)





*Abdominal pain

*Indigestion/reflux (“heartburn”)

*Lactose intolerance (Lactase in an enzyme that breaks down lactose and is created at the “brush border” where intestinal villi reside.  If your villi are being damaged, lactase may not be created and therefore, a lactose intolerance may develop.)

*Unexplained weight loss

*Dermatitis Herpetiformis (severe itchy rash)


*Numbness in the extremities

*Bone/joint pain




*Easy bruising of the skin

*Shortness of breath




*Hair loss

*Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

*Increased risk of infections

*Irregular/speedy heartbeat

*Muscle cramps

*Chronic fatigue/weakness


*Mental fogginess


*Sjogren’s syndrome

*Hyper-or Hypo-thyroidism

*Type 1 diabetes

*Pale skin

*Edema (swelling) of the hands & feet

*Mouth ulcers (canker sores)

*Menstrual irregularities

*Elevated liver enzymes

Infants & children may experience additional symptoms, including:

*Small size

*Slow growth

*Failure to thrive

*Tooth enamel deficits

*Developmental delays

*Delayed puberty

*Irritability & behavioral changes

*Concentration & learning difficulties

Untreated celiac’s disease may lead to the following complications:

*Iron-deficiency anemia

*Other vitamin & mineral deficiencies (A, D, E, K, calcium, etc. – You need all of those!)




*Intestinal lymphoma

*Adenocarcinoma (cancer of the epithelium that originates in glandular tissue)

Phew!  See?  So many different forms it can take and some of it is pretty serious stuff!  To make matters even more confusing, a person may test negative for celiac’s but still be gluten intolerant.  In other words, while there may be no intestinal damage taking place, a person may still experience diarrhea every time they consume something with gluten in it.

By this point, you may be wondering whether or not you may be gluten-intolerant or even have celiac’s disease.  The prevalence of gluten sensitivity is hard to estimate, given the lack of proper testing for such a diagnosis.  True celiac’s disease is assumed to affect ~1% of the U.S. population.  However, 95-97% of people with celiac’s have still not been diagnosed!!!  A person may test negative for celiac’s when they are younger and develop it later in life.

The take home message is this: not everybody with some sort of body ailment has celiac’s disease or even gluten sensitivity.  However, getting tested for celiac’s disease or undergoing a gluten-elimination diet may be a worthy endeavor for those with unexplained  health problems.  Gluten is a very pervasive part of the American diet.  This, combined with the numerous manifestations of gluten intolerance/celiac’s disease makes gluten a reasonable target for those attempting to treat certain chronic health problems.

Testing can be expensive, but if you suspect celiac’s disease, it’s best to get a proper diagnosis.  Celiac’s disease (as noted above) is serious business and can even lead to cancer if untreated.  A person with celiac’s disease can be affected by tiny particles of gluten (we’re talking can’t share a toaster tiny).

That said, I understand being poor and unable to afford specialty testing.  For these folks, I recommend a six-week gluten-free diet trial to gauge any potential health benefits of cutting it out. Make sure to do your homework beforehand!  There’s more to it than just switching out your bread.  For example, did you know that traditional soy sauce contains gluten?

In future posts, I intend to provide more insight and resources on the topic.

Here’s what I ate my first day on the gluten-free diet:

Breakfast: oatmeal (certified gluten-free oats soaked overnight in water & apple cider vinegar – Note: soaking grains overnight makes them more nutritious & allows ’em to cook faster!) with blueberries, strawberries, & butter + 1 (butter) fried egg

Lunch: Gluten-free bread (Savory brand – from Fargo, ND! :)), BLT with romaine lettuce, tomatoes (duh), & cucumber slices + BBQ flavored cassava chips & 1/2 frozen banana

Supper: (Butter) fried vegetables – zucchini, peas, jalapeneos & banana peppers + brown beans & shredded cheddar cheese served over romaine letttuce

Naughty dessert: ground flax seed mixed with melted butter & honey (Sounds decently healthy but was naughty because I ate WAY too much of it!)


Adamson, E. & Thompson, T. (2007) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Eating

Case, S. (2010) Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide

Green, P. (2010) Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic

Shepard, J. (2008) The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free

Eat Where You Live – Life as a Locavore

5 Aug (Thanks Abby ;-))

As we are well into August by now, it’s obvious I’ve completed my short locavore trial.  Here’s the recap:

Cravings experienced:  Frozen bananas dipped in carob powder.  I was just getting used to this daily treat!

Sins to confess:  None!

Here’s what I ate my last day on the locavore diet:

Breakfast: Wild rice with Swedish brown beans (grown in the Red River Valley!)  topped with “granola” made out of ground flax seeds, butter, & honey.  YUM!

Lunch:   Boiled red potato with butter (I know that’s not a meal.  I was running late for work. 😦 )

Supper: 2 egg omelet served over (butter) fried veggie blend (red potato, zucchini, peas, & tomato)

3 of my Favorite Local Recipes

Chicken & Dumpling Soup

I roasted a local organic chicken, adding butter and water to the bottom of the roaster pan.  When the chicken was done, I strained the resulting juices to make chicken broth.  To the chicken broth, I added the following:

*Chicken chunks

*Chopped fresh kale & parsley (from my garden)

*Wild rice (precooked)

*Red potatoes (pre-boiled)


*Dumplings!  I beat 3 (MN grown!) eggs together and added Dakota Maid all-purpose flour to the mixture until reaching the desired stiff consistency.  Using a spoon, I added the concoction to my stew.

I brought the soup to a boil to set the dumplings, and then I let the soup simmer for ~20 minutes.  This soup was slightly blander than I’m used to.  I would generally add lots of black pepper, because I think that soup without it is a crime.  However, it turned out really nummy anyhow!

Fried Rice

I have been eating a slightly ridiculous amount of butter lately.  Here’s a prime example of a meal I made and LOVED while on the locavore diet.  I hit up my local farmer’s market for the first time this summer to acquire some of the main ingredients.

I heated a decent chunk of butter over the stove in a medium cast iron skillet.  Once it was sizzling, I added chopped onion (from our CSA) & green, banana, jalapeneo, & serrano pepper (from the farmer’s market).  I sauteed this mixture until the peppers and onion appeared soft.  I then pushed all of the veggies out to the sides to make an opening in the center.  I added more butter and precooked wild rice (~1 1/2 – 2 cups?).  I let it fry a bit and then pushed the rice toward the veggies, reopening the center space.  I added more butter (haha…see?  BUTTER!!!) and cracked 2 eggs in the middle.  I let them fry for a minute or so and flipped ’em.  Finally, I mixed everything together and then ate it while it was hot hot hot!  I had to blow my nose a couple of times while I ate it (’twas spicy!) but man was it good!

And for the final addition to my butter locavore diet 😀 …

Ridiculously Indulgent Breakfast/Dessert

*This is just a slight variation on the raw pancake recipe I provided in an earlier post.  Essentially, I ground up a bunch of flax seed.  I’d put some in a bowl, add a generous amount of butter, maple syrup or honey, and a heaping spoonful of peanut butter.  I’d heat it up in the microwave for ~30 seconds.  I then mixed the melted goodness together.  Depending on how much of everything you use, the consistency can turn out to be like a moist cereal or moldable breakfast bar of sorts.  OH…MY…GOD it’s delicious…and addicting.  Adding berries to the mixture makes it even more delicious, but just because it’s made with real food, I’m not going to pretend it’s the healthiest obsession I have these days…

Lessons Learned:  It’s amazing what you learn about your local environment when you attempt to subsist entirely off of it.  It’s a nice reminder that things like cinnamon, certain teas, & bananas are luxuries even though they are staples in many households.  I encourage everybody to take the challenge!  Try eating only locally grown foods for 1 week out of the year.  In addition to this, try to seek out local ingredients whenever possible.  Some people may not be ready to give up their daily coffee but could still make a difference by purchasing their cream from a local dairy and/or their sugar from a local mill.  Baby steps to a better planet!