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!

Baking, baking, and more baking
May 26, 2010, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Going strong... | Tags: ,

May has turned out to be quite a busy month. My husband and I took two trips to California- one for a family event and the other to celebrate our first wedding anniversary! This is what I’ve been up to when we weren’t traveling….

I’ve spent a ton of my free time this month baking (and my disaster of a house shows it!). I have been working on creating some of my own recipes and not just following those of other gluten and grain free-ers. This is a huge step for a go-with-what-works kind of girl like me, but it has yielded some really good results.

My main focus in the last couple of weeks has been on making my bread recipe come out “taller” without losing the amazing flavor and good texture of my original batch. Even with my short loaf, we were thrilled to be able to have sandwiches with all of the fixings. One thing I have learned from bread making- you can ALWAYS use your failed loaves for croutons! 🙂

Here are some visuals of my works in progress:

Chocolate and coconut milk pie

Cinnamon and

apple muffins




with fresh


I must say that the cheesecake turned out DELICIOUS! The only thing I will change the next time around is the cooking time… the crust was a touch too brown on the outer edges.

P.S. Thanks to my MIL for lending me her pie pan…. I had never considered baking a pie…that is, until I had the proper pan sitting on my counter “staring” at me.  🙂

What a good day!
February 4, 2010, 5:09 pm
Filed under: The First 30 Days | Tags: , ,

Today has been full of good things. A couple of the more important, food related things:

First, my sister made a perfect batch of gluten-free pancakes using some of the revisions from Elana’s website. This is so refreshing because I was really starting to get bored with scrambled eggs every morning. Even with goat cheese, spinach, onions, and bell peppers they were getting pretty tiresome. She emailed me a picture of them and they looked so delicious. Can’t wait to try them!

And second, a co-worker and I are organizing a week-long food drive at the end of the month. It will be open to customers and fellow employees and we will be collecting canned and boxed goods and vital toiletries. I’m really glad to be getting involved in something good for our community. It has definitely been too long since I have given back…

As far as my eating for the day goes, I did pretty well. So far I’ve had scrambled eggs w/ spinach and bell peppers for breakfast (of course! hehe) and tuna salad and veggies for lunch. I also munched on a delicious locally grown orange. One of the best I’ve ever had!

Hooray for good days!

You deserve answers….
January 31, 2010, 7:12 am
Filed under: Before the Diet Changes | Tags: , ,

I want to explain in more depth what this new dietary plan will consist of. It is quite simple, really. Eat organically grown, non-GMO (genetically modified) foods that do not contain wheat, barley, rye, etc.

Two common sense rules I will also implement:

If it has unpronounceable ingredients, don’t eat it.
If its shelf life is longer than one week, don’t eat it.

Here are the basic lists….

Examples of foods I can eat (all organic/free range of course):
Beef (grass-fed), poultry, fish, and eggs
Almond milk
Coconut milk
Goat cheese
Non-GMO rice products (pasta, brown rice)
Fresh produce
Dried fruits

Examples of foods eliminated from diet:
Anything processed/pre-packaged
Soy in all forms
Breads and pastries not specified as gluten free and non-GMO
High fructose corn syrup
Barley, Rye,
Pasta (except those made of rice, kelp, etc.)

Foods that I am also eliminating in order to calm sensitivities and/or allergies:

This is not a complete list but gives a better idea of what is acceptable and what is not. I will continue to add to the list and get more brand specific as the blogging continues.

I was going to wait until next week to start this new lifestyle but I’ve gotten so wrapped up in the preparations that I am pretty sure I have already started without completely noticing. I went grocery shopping for the first time since the “big change” and I think I did pretty well (my lovely sister reassured me of that ☺). I found some really good products that I am excited to try!

Why the change?

Today is not just my first day in the blogging world, it is the beginning of something that brings me hope, excitement, and most of all fear. The fear of failing to change my unhealthy lifestyle into one that will hopefully make me feel lively and youthful again. I suppose I should explain in a bit more depth.

Let’s start with a little bit of self history. From a fairly young age I have had health issues. Aching pains in my knees, wrists, and elbows, urinary tract infections, irregular bowel movements, and acute pain in my stomach and pelvic area. All of this before I was even out of elementary school. My daily life at such a young age consisted of a morning cocktail of mineral oil and stool softeners to help with my stomach and bowel issues and a restriction of certain physical activities due to tendonitis. I figured the issues would soon pass and went about my childhood thinking that what I was experiencing was normal. The physical issues continued through my teenage years and into adulthood.

More recently, I have had several episodes of excruciating stomach pain that left me bed ridden at best. My lifes routine has become filled with consecutive days of severe nausea, painful constipation, agonizing gas pains, and/or disruptive diarrhea without a “free” day in between. The only consistent symptoms have been depression and my lack of energy.

After seeing many doctors, having countless procedures and tests done, and always being told that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is to blame, I finally found a doctor that cared enough to fight for my well-being. At first I thought this doctor (who had filled in for my primary physician on her day off) was a complete nut case. I saw her during one of my “episodes” and she wanted me to do blood tests, urine tests, give four different stool samples, and be tested for all allergies possible. I suppose my persistence about having Celiac disease (which I had researched for days before on the internet) could have annoyed her so highly that she figured she would cover all of her bases to ease my fears. The exciting results of all of those tests were that I have a moderate allergy to shrimp and a severe sensitivity to oats. I suppose I should have been happier about this, as the diagnosis could have been much worse, but without real answers I was losing hope.

Being as unsatisfied with the results as I was, the doctor insisted on more tests. For the next several months, myself, my new doctor, and her amazing assistant would fight my health insurance company to get an abdominal and pelvic CT scan approved. After several appeals, all resulting in denial, we finally got through to Blue Shield that I was not having unjustified “woman issues” (as they referred to them) but that my “issues” are real and have affected my daily life.

After reviewing the results from the CT scan, the doctor found signs of a digestive disorder known as diverticulosis, or pouches that form on the wall of the colon. Now, diverticulosis itself isn’t really something to write home about. It is the episodes of diverticulitis , or infections of the pouches formed when you have diverticulosis, that are worrisome, especially at my young age. This is only a preliminary diagnosis and my newly visited gastroenterologist  is skeptical that someone of my age could have episodes of diverticulitis. He explained that he has never personally seen a patient in their 20’s with diverticulosis and it is rare for people even in their 30’s to develop the condition. He added that he strongly believes that, even if diverticulosis is present, I am suffering from Irittable Bowel Syndrome as well.

I will be having a colonoscopy with the above mentioned gastroenterologist in early March for a solid diagnosis.

So, in short, my reasoning behind going gluten and GMO grain free is to rid myself of the constant discomfort and pain I have lived with for so many years. I am hopeful that these dietary changes, when implemented into my daily life and followed strictly, will create drastic changes in the way I feel.