Gift Guide: For The Celiac In Your Life

Pull someone who has Celiac as a secret Santa? Not sure what to get for them but still want to make it special? Below are just some suggestions on things that I’ve found handy over the past couple of years (and at various price points, too!)

UNDER $15:

Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free

I received this book from a Secret Santa the Christmas after I was diagnosed with Celiac. The diagnosis was still fresh and this book helped make the news more bearable. Packed with gluten-free recipes, funny stories, and relatable advice, this book is a great ‘under $15’ gift for any gluten-free friend.

UNDER $20:

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime

After my diagnosis, there was a huge learning curve on 1) how to cook in general and 2) how to cook for my new dietary restrictions. This cookbook has great recipes that are easy to follow and with very few ingredients. Between this and Hello Fresh, I’ve graduated from novice to basic chef. That’s a small jump, right? Anyway, this cookbook would be the perfect ‘under $20’ gift for a fellow Celiac.

UNDER $30:

Gluten-Free Spiced Apple Quick Bread Mix

Not into gifting books? That’s okay. A gift basket filled with GF treats would make any Celiac smile. These gluten-free spiced apple muffins are so good and so easy to whip up. Add in Williams-Sonoma’s lemon cake and pumpkin bread mixes and you’ve got an excellent ‘under $30’ gift. PS – They’re currently on sale!

UNDER $50:

Hello Fresh Meal Delivery Subscription

Like I said earlier, I quickly had to learn how to cook for myself (and Josh) after I got diagnosed. Ordering take out or going out to dinner wasn’t as easy as it used to be, so I had to adapt. Hello Fresh’s easy-to-follow recipe cards made the transition to the gluten-free lifestyle super smooth. They have so many recipes to choose from weekly, and many already come gluten-free. I always keep rice (an easy swap for tortillas to create a bowl) and GF pasta on hand, so whipping up meals for Josh and I is no problem! A subscription (or maybe just their first box) would be an awesome gift for a Celiac.

 

If you’re a fellow Celiac, what gluten-free gift ideas are you asking for this year? If you’re gifting a Celiac, what are you thinking about getting them? Comment below or on my Instagram post – I’d love to hear from you! 

Stella Barra Pizzeria

Ever since I was diagnosed with Celiac, I’ve been on the hunt for the best gluten free pizza out there. I began my search in Detroit, home of some of the biggest pizza companies in the nation, and am now in search of the perfect GF pizza pie in the windy city.

Before I officially kicked off my carb-filled journey into pizza-food-baby-happiness (or sadness in some cases?!), I decided that I should jot down some notes and share my findings with the interwebs. For the sake of consistency, I chose to rate each pizza (1-10, 10 being the best) on several attributes to help me determine Chicago’s best gluten free pizza:

  • Visual appearance
    • Is it burnt?
    • Does it look store bought/mass produced?
  • Texture
    • Is it too dry?
    • Does it fall apart? Conversely, can it stay together when you fold it?
    • Does it hold up well with the sauce and toppings?
  • Flavor (I can still vaguely remember what a true gluten-filled pizza dough tastes like, so I try to compare to that.)
    • Are there any off flavors?
    • If it’s made with alternative ingredients (like cauliflower, quinoa, or zucchini), are they too pronounced? Do the flavors blend well with the sauces and flavors of the toppings?
  • Re-heatability (I don’t do cold pizza)
    • How well does it hold up on day 2 once it’s put in the oven or toaster oven?

My quest began at Lincoln Park’s very own Stella Barra Pizzeria, where they’re known for their artisanal handcrafted pies. After many minutes of intense deliberation, I decided to order the “Quattro Formaggi” with proscuitto on their potato and rice flour dough. The “Quattro Formaggi” is topped with parmesan cream, mozzarella, gruyere, and taleggio cheeses. For those wondering, yes, I popped a Lactaid prior to eating. I also took a Glutenease because I knew there’d be some potential for cross-contamination.

GF 2

“So how did it go?!” you’re probably asking. Here’s how they performed:

  • Visual appearance: 7
    • Lost points due to some burning along the edges
    • Gained points because it’s clearly hand tossed with irregularities in shape
  • Texture: 10
    • Crispy, but also let me fold it without that typical gluten-free break, which is the worst – right, GF friends?!
  • Flavor: 9
    • I couldn’t even tell I wasn’t eating gluten-filled dough. In my opinion, potato and rice flours tend to yield better results than other gluten alternative products.
    • I know it was most likely due to all of the cheeses, but I felt like the crust portion tasted just like a Chez-It, so I was into that.
  • Re-heatability: 8
    • Does any pizza hold up as well the next day?? Brownie points for getting crispy again in the toaster oven, but just wasn’t the same as day-of.
  • TOTAL SCORE: 34/40, 85%, B
    • Honestly, I think we started off on a pretty high note. I’m super interested to see how the others compete with this one.

 

For a better understanding of what Stella Barra’s GF pizza looks like compared to a non-GF ‘za, here’s mine next to Steph’s (hers has an egg and is on the left):

 

 

Have you had some GREAT gluten free pizza lately? Let’s hear about it! Comment below with your favorite GF pizza and if you found it in Chicago, I’ll check it out.

The One Thing That’s Always In My Purse

Welcome to a new series of posts that I’m calling “Two Minute Reads”. These posts will consist of little blurbs or word vomits that don’t need a research paper to support. Hope you enjoy 🙂

Let me start off this Two Minute Read by saying that this is NOT.AN.AD. I’m not nearly cool enough to be sponsored – I just really stand by this product so much that I felt the need to share it with all of you!

Glutenease by Enzymedica has been a savior when eating out at restaurants and even at dinner parties at friends’ homes. Similar to Lactaid, Glutenease breaks down gluten proteins to make them easier to digest for Celiacs. It’s not perfect and I can definitely still tell that I’ve eaten something my body hates, but the pain is substantially less than what it could have been. It’s important to note that I’m not going around eating bread and pasta – this comes as a last resort if I think I’ve accidentally eaten something that’s been cross-contaminated, which we Celiacs know can happen more often than we hope. Glutenease isn’t cheap, which is a bummer, but it’s worth having around if you’re a Celiac like me. Bonus – it’s vegan, kosher, and non-GMO!

Do you use Glutenease or something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts – comment below!

 

Easy Kale Chips

Woah, you guys. It.has.been.a.WHILE. Apologies for going M.I.A. for a bit there – life got in the way. Selfish how it does that sometimes, huh?

If you’ve been following my story, you know that I went through a pretty drastic dietary change about 8 [wow, there goes life being all sassy and moving too quickly again!] months ago. I was informed that I had Celiac disease and that I basically had to eliminate all things that brought me joy. That’s dramatic, but you get it. Thank goodness that it’s 2018 and food manufacturers have learned to put disclaimers on their products that call out if an item is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, etc. Even so, preparing well-rounded meals was still pretty difficult and I had to teach myself to enjoy all the green “nasties” as I used to call them. And seriously, if you don’t believe me, ask my friends – they know I RARELY ate greens. I was even gifted this book.  Fast forward to today and I can proudly say that I LIKE KALE. GASP!

I have been dying to share with you the easiest kale chip recipe that I’ve ever seen. Okay, being honest here – I can’t see how it could be hard in the first place – and if I can do it, you can do it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Kale (duh) Not the baby kind – Get the good “adult” stuff.
  • Oil – I used olive oil
  • Garlic salt because YUM
  • Parchment paper – Optional, but I like using it because I’m lazy and hate cleaning dishes
  • Pepper

Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees. Low and slow is the method to go with.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Rinse and make sure to really pat the kale dry. This is key and helps them get nice and crispy.
  4. Remove the stems and tear into slightly smaller pieces.
  5. Place kale pieces onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil. Be light-handed here. Too much olive oil won’t allow the chips to actually become chips.
  7. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Toss!
  9. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and flip the chips. Return to oven for 10 more minutes. Patience!
  10. Best enjoyed right away.

Disclaimer: These don’t really work out the next day. I packed some in a plastic baggie for lunch the next day and they just didn’t hold the crispiness. They were still really yummy and flavor-packed, but lacked the chip-ness. I suggest just making as much as you’d like to consume that day. 

Enjoy!

Bon appétit! 

Completely unrelated from kale, but want to know something cool? I was featured on Metro Detroit’s own She’s Blossoming blog as a featured writer! Self-care is hard enough already, but when you add in a swamped schedule, it gets even harder. I share some easy tricks to set aside time to treat yo’ self. Head on over, give it a read, and let me know what you think!

 

 

Quick Quinoa Risotto and Chicken Andouille Sausage

Trader Joe’s is an inspiring place. I think every time I walk out of one of their stores, my wallet may be lighter, but I’m feeling ready to conquer any recipe I come across. I mentioned in my last post that I’m not a chef – I’d barely even call myself “handy” in the kitchen, but I’m getting there slowly but surely.

Last week, post-Trader Joe’s trip and amped up with motivation to crush another recipe, I got to work on this yummy (and quick!) quinoa risotto with chicken andouille sausage. I was never a quinoa girl before, so there was most certainly a learning curve when I was making this – did you know that a little goes a long way?! I definitely didn’t… I wish I had taken a picture of how much I actually made – enough to feed a small army at least. The cheesy, creamy tomato risotto balances out the spicy andouille sausage perfectly and was a great lazy Sunday meal with enough leftovers for a delicious Monday lunch.

Similar to last week’s post, this meal is packed with protein and flavor and is obviously Celiac friendly!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Season with salt to taste.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice the andouille sausage into half inch slices.
  3. Once water is boiling, add quinoa and stir. Turn heat to low and cover for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add a splash of olive oil to a hot pan and add sausage. Cook on high, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once quinoa is done, add in tomato sauce, chicken stock, cheese, and seasonings.  Stir.
  6. That’s it! Take a big ol’ heaping of risotto, divide between plates (or bowls if that’s more your style) and top with sausage. Garnish with any remaining shredded pecorino romano cheese.

Enjoy!

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I can’t wait for you guys to try this recipe – it’s seriously so simple and scrumptious. Let me know what you think – I’d love to hear from you!

Bon appétit! 

Homemade, Hearty, and Protein-Packed Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Let me first start by saying that I am not a chef by any means. I’m definitely still trying to figure out this whole cooking thing. I would; however, like to give a shout out to Blue Apron because my boyfriend and I had their meal boxes coming once a week for about a year and let me tell you – it really did help expand both my palate and my skills in the kitchen.

We’re in the thick of cold and flu season here in Detroit and it’s now my boyfriend’s turn to catch the plague. We’ve been pumping him with all the cold medications, but I really wanted to make something cozy for him to munch on. To me, there’s nothing better than homemade chicken noodle soup to make you feel better when you’re sick.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a yummy, gluten-free chicken noodle soup:

  • 1 Jumbo crock pot
  • 2 Small pots
  • 3 Chicken breasts
  • 2 Containers of gluten-free chicken stock (64 oz.)
  • 2 Large potatoes
  • 1 Box Banza chickpea pasta
  • 3-4 Stalks of celery – chopped
  • 1/2 Onion – chopped
  • 2 Cups carrot – chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Any additional seasonings you may enjoy (thyme, parsley, garlic, etc.)

What I love about crock pot meals is that they’re seriously the most simple meals to make – you just plop everything in there, put it on high for 4 hours, and wait. This meal is going to go from about a 3 [on the 1-10 scale] to a 4 only because you’ll need 2 other pots to cook your potatoes and pasta.

Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Place chicken breasts in crock pot.
  2. Pour in both containers of chicken stock.
  3. Chop celery, onions, and carrots to your liking and add those to the crock pot.
  4. Add salt, pepper, and any other seasonings to taste.
  5. Turn crock pot on high and set for 4 hours.
  6. Stir occasionally.
  7. With 30 minutes remaining on the timer, take chicken breasts out and use 2 forks to shred. Add shredded chicken back to the crock pot and stir.
  8. Cube potatoes and place in pot of salted boiling water for 20 minutes. We originally started cooking the potatoes in the crock pot with the rest of the soup but found that the potatoes weren’t cooking quickly enough – this is why I say to keep them separate until the very end. We want to make sure you’re not eating partially cooked potatoes!
  9. Banza pasta typically requires 9-11 minutes to cook. I recommend cooking for about 8 because once you add to the crock pot, it will continue to cook even on “warm” setting. Nothing is worse than overly cooked and gooey chickpea noodles.
  10. Stir both potatoes and pasta into crock pot.
  11. Salt and pepper to taste. (Did I mention I love salt?!)
  12. Divide into bowls, serve, and enjoy!

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The addition of potatoes to chicken noodle soup is a new development for me, but my boyfriend, being 1/4 Irish, never knew any other way to make it. I’ve got to say, I really enjoy having them in there – it adds a little bit more substance and heartiness to the soup. This recipe is packed with protein – from the chicken to the chickpea pasta – and leaves you warm, full, and hopefully feeling better!

I’d love to hear if you try out this cozy recipe! Leave your thoughts below or send me an email via the contact form.

Bon appétit! 

 

 

 

Day One. The Beginning of Against The Grain.

Hi everyone! Welcome to Against The Grain –  I’m Amanda!

I’m starting this blog as a creative outlet to share my experiences as someone very recently diagnosed with Celiac disease.

In August of 2017, I was admitted into the hospital with severe upper abdominal pain. After a diagnosis of acute pancreatitis and six extremely long days later, I was finally released from the hospital with plenty of unanswered questions about my health and what lay before me. The fact that the root cause of my pancreatitis was unknown motivated my doctors to perform a series of additional tests (separate from the ones done during my admittance in the hospital) that wound up being inconclusive. What they did find; however, was that my body rejected gluten – Celiac disease. To learn of this 27 years into life was extremely eye opening to me. It definitely answered a lot of questions about my health in the past – not only was I having stomach issues, but I realized that I was experiencing other symptoms of the disease my entire life. This blog is my outlet to share my story and to connect with others who may also have Celiac disease – or just to connect with those looking to eliminate gluten in their life.

I’ll share a little bit of my life, my favorite recipes, reviews of my favorite gluten-free meals at my favorite restaurants in my hometown Detroit and through my travels, and sometimes I’ll throw in a guest contributor’s thoughts on what they’re cooking up.

You can follow me on my Instagram (AgainstTheGrainDET & BaconAma) and Snapchat (BaconAma). Enjoy!