Going Gluten and GMO-Grain Free

Taco Salad
August 12, 2010, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Dairy free, Egg-free, Grain-free, Main Dishes, Recipes | Tags: , , , ,

So.. I’m on a yeast-free and sugar-free kick after reading The Yeast Connection Handbook by William G. Crook, M.D. Click here to check out his website.

This first week has been pretty tough because I had to go back-to-the-basics and eliminate all things convenient; reverting back to a more “paleo-style” diet of meat and vegetables. I never realized how much I rely on fruit and sweeteners to liven up my daily eats. This has really been an eye-opening experience and I feel great!

Next week I will slowly start introducing the non-grain grains (i.e. quinoa and amaranth) and starchier veggies.

Even if you are not avoiding yeast and sugar, this grain-free and dairy free taco salad is amazing!

I have separated the recipe into meat, pico di gallo, and avocado dressing and put them in the order of how I make them.

Start here:

Rinse and chop lettuce. I like to mix iceberg (for its crunch) and red leaf

(for its higher nutritional value)

Pico Di Gallo

4 medium tomatoes, diced
½ large yellow onion, finely minced (another ¼ will be used with the meat)
1 jalapeño (or other pepper of choice)
1 clove of garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt

1-2 small handfuls of cilantro

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.
Refrigerate while preparing meat and dressing.

Avocado Dressing (my favorite part of this meal)

2 ripe avocados
1/3 cup olive oil (or more depending on what consistency you like)
3-4 basil leaves
1 green onion
½ teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor (I use a mini processor for this) and blend on low for 1-2 minutes; until smooth. Add more olive oil if necessary.
Refrigerate while preparing meat.

*I like this “dressing” a bit thicker for my taco salad… but it can always be thinned out with a ¼ cup of water and/or a tablespoon of lemon juice for use on a green salad.

Taco Meat

This part of the meal is so versatile. Choose any ground meat that fits your lifestyle – turkey, chicken, beef – and season to taste.

1.5 lbs ground meat
¼ large yellow onion, minced
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
Garlic powder, red chili pepper flakes, cayenne pepper

In large skillet, combine meat, onion, and seasonings of choice over medium-high heat. Cook until just browned. Drain if necessary. Add tomato paste and continue to cook on low heat for 5 minutes; mixing well.

Now the fun part… putting it all together.

Fill a bowl with a large handful of lettuce. Top with taco meat, pico di gallo, and then avocado dressing.


End note: I have given up on trying to work with “conventional” doctors. This last round of appointments cost me another $100 and landed me right back at the starting line. Pretty big disappointment but made me realize that what I really need is to listen to my body and go with my first instincts. Naturally. I refuse to “cover up” the real problem by taking two allergy medications daily and using a topical cream that causes my skin to thin. No thank you!


Easy, slow-cooker chili

This chili is so easy and so good. It is meaty, chunky, and has a slight kick! If you prefer a less spicy version, try using half the chili powder or omitting it completely, depending on your taste buds.


1 15-16 oz. can kidney beans*
1 15-16 oz. can pinto beans*
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes*
1 1/2 pound of ground meat (grass-fed beef, turkey, or chicken)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (I used half of a yellow and half of an orange for more color)
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes


Brown the ground meat in a skillet and drain if necessary. Drain beans. Add all ingredients to slow cooker, stir thoroughly, and cook for 4-5 hours on medium setting.

Serve with shredded cheese, green onions, or sour cream if desired.

We ate two huge bowls of this for dinner last night and then used the leftovers this evening for chili fries.

*As always, remember to choose canned items carefully. I prefer organic, with no salt or unnecessary ingredients added. I stock up on the Whole Foods 365 brand organic beans and tomatoes (diced, paste, and sauce) when they are on sale.

For chili fries:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper

Cut two large Yukon potatoes into 1/2 inch strips

In large, covered bowl, toss with two tablespoons EVOO and seasoning salt

Place in single layer on cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes; turning once at 15 minutes

Place fries in bowl and top with re-heated chili

Serves two

**My cookie sheets will not fit side-by-side on one oven rack so I position one rack in the center and the other closer to the top. At the 15 minute turn, I switch racks. This ensures they will cook evenly.

First appointment with a new doctor….

After all of my preparation, my doctor’s appointment is just around the corner. I randomly selected an in-network doctor and just as much as I am going into this knowing nothing about her, she has no clue what she has gotten into having me as a patient. I only hope she has the patience and skills it is going to take to help me. I hope I will have made her job at least a little easier with the “packet” I have put together for her. It includes prior medical records, photos of my different rashes at their worst, and the laundry list of ailments and concerns I have. Makes me feel quite neurotic but I refuse to leave another doctors appointment feeling like I was rushed and not taken seriously. No more wasted co-pays!

Stuffed Bell Peppers
July 9, 2010, 7:17 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes, Recipes | Tags: , ,

These bell peppers were a huge hit! And best of all, they are great leftover. The hubby and I both had them for dinner one night and lunch the next day. Hope you enjoy!

6 medium bell peppers
1 cup uncooked, well-rinsed quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 medium carrot
1 small zucchini
1 celery stalk
2 green onions
1 lb lean turkey meat
1 cup diced yellow onions
2 cloves diced garlic
15-16 oz can of tomato sauce
Parsley, black pepper, sea salt, and red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the peppers until just tender; 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and allow to dry on paper towels.
Combine quinoa, broth, carrots, zucchini, celery, and green onions in medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
While quinoa is cooking: In a large skillet, combine meat, yellow onions, garlic, and seasonings over medium-high heat. Cook until meat is just browned. Add almost entire can of tomato sauce (reserve a few tablespoons for later). Reduce heat to low and stir well. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Combine meat with quinoa.
Pour reserved tomato sauce and a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of a deep, oven-safe dish; just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, about 1/8 inch deep.

Use a large spoon to stuff bell peppers with quinoa/meat mixture and place them “standing-up” in the baking dish. Bake until peppers are tender and filling is heated through; about 25 minutes.

Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve!

It’s pronounced Keen-wah
July 6, 2010, 7:40 pm
Filed under: Dairy free, Egg-free, Main Dishes, Recipes, Sides | Tags: ,

I have a new obsession with quinoa. I find it versatile, light, and easy-to-digest. Not to mention, it is a complete protein with an essential amino acid balance that is close to perfect. Some varieties of quinoa are over 20 percent protein! More commonly found with a 16 percent protein content, quinoa still far surpasses other grains in protein power. It can replace rice in almost any recipe and is great in cold salads. AND it is super easy to make… just make sure to rinse it well before cooking!

Here is a recipe I threw together for dinner:

Quinoa Pilaf with Sausage

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
2 green onions
1 carrot
1 zucchini
4 sausages (I use fully cooked chicken sausage)
Salt and Italian seasoning to taste

Dice all veggies

*I used the veggies that I had on hand but this recipe should work with just about anything. Peas anyone?

Combine quinoa, broth, and veggies in medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, cut fully cooked sausage length-wise and then into bite-size chunks. Lightly brown sausage in a skillet.

Add sausage to quinoa and season to taste (A dash of salt and a teaspoon of Italian herbs does it for me).

Serves 2-3 as a main dish; would work well as a side dish also!

Keep an eye out for another quinoa recipe later this week.

Life in Portland…
May 4, 2010, 4:34 pm
Filed under: Going strong..., Grain-free, Main Dishes, Recipes

So, we have been in Portland for about two months now and I love it here! One of my favorite things is that there are so many resources for people with special dietary needs. Dedicated gluten-free bakeries, over accommodating restaurants, and plenty of fresh, organic produce to be had. Did I mention that I live across the street from Whole Foods? Pretty spoiled… I know. All of these factors have made it quite easy for me to spend a good chunk of my free time (which is more abundant now that I am working less) cooking and baking, which makes me a happy girl! I’m pretty sure my hubby doesn’t mind either.

Here are some of the gluten and grain free meals we love for dinner:

Blackened salmon with sautéed asparagus – Just as it sounds! Simple and delicious. I usually bake my salmon for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 and I saute the asparagus in EVOO with onions and garlic.

Chicken stuffed with spinach and goat feta and baked baby red potatoes – You can either “stuff” the chicken breasts or just roll them. To roll, simply lay the chicken breast flat and add the spinach and goat cheese on top, then “roll” it up, and fasten with a skewer. I have used a few different marinades but I think our favorite was the balsamic vinaigrette. For the potatoes, I cut baby reds into 1/2 inch pieces with the skin on, dice a small onion, and season with dried herbs (I use an Italian mix) and spices. The best part about this meal is that both dishes bake at 375 for about 50 minutes.

Stir-fry – This is my go-to meal when I have a fridge full of veggies that I need to get rid of. You can put almost anything in stir-fry and it is easy! My favorite veggies for this dish are baby bok choy, kale (any variety), spinach, carrots, green beans, and bean sprouts (added at the last-minute so they are still crunchy… yum!). This is usually our one “red” meat meal during the week. I use grass-fed beef that is usually labeled “for stew” or “for stir-fry” and is already cut into small cubes. Tip: I cook my stir-fry with toasted sesame oil. Gives it such an amazing flavor and it is gluten-free!

Pot roast – Another good recipe for using up veggies! Whenever grass-fed tri-tip roast is on sale I pick one up for this simple slow cooker recipe. I usually cut all the veggies (potatoes, carrots, broccoli, etc.) the night before so that I can just throw it all together in the morning and let it cook all day (about 8 hours). Trick my mom taught me: Put meat and veggies in the slow cooker with a package of onion soup mix and fill with enough water to cover. Turns out so delicious and full of onion flavor.

Turkey “burgers” and sweet potato fries – One of our favorites! I haven’t made this since we moved because we don’t have a BBQ for the turkey patties anymore… but, at my hubby’s request, I will be trying it on the stove top this week. To make the “burger,” I take two cooked turkey patties  and “sandwich” sautéed spinach (with garlic and onions) and goat feta. For the sweet potato fries (compliments of my amazing sister), spread sweet potato spears (they sell them pre-cut at Trader Joe’s) on cookie sheet, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 45-50 minutes at 400. This really curbs my burger cravings!

Soup – Since it rains quite often here, we have been eating a lot of soup. I am realizing that you can make soup with just about anything as long as you have broth. Sometimes I just cut veggies and let them boil in vegetable broth for about 20 minutes until tender. Other times, I will let them boil until soft and then CAREFULLY- once the soup has cooled- use the blender to puree (you may need to do this in batches). Return to the stove top, bring back to a gentle boil, and serve. One of my favorites is a combination of leeks, asparagus, and a Yukon gold potato!

This made me hungry….Off to make dinner!