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! 

What I’m Making For Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays and it’s mainly due to the amazing comfort food (and the fact that you can get away with wearing stretchy pants and laying around after the meal, but I digress…). When I was first diagnosed with Celiac, Thanksgiving was super daunting to me because so many of my favorite dishes were filled with gluten – stuffing, gravy, pie… Luckily, we live in a time of heightened awareness of what’s in our food and so many food manufacturers are not only calling out allergens on their packaging, but they’re even creating separate gluten free product lines for Celiacs and anyone out there wishing to eliminate or decrease their gluten intake.

Stuffing:

  • This year, I’ll be using Schar gluten-free bread to make my breadcrumbs.
    • I like Schar better than Udi’s – I just think it holds up a little bit better. (Note that it does contain soy, so be careful if that’s a sensitive food for you).
    • If you’re in a rush, they also have pre-made breadcrumbs, but I like cutting up the bread and toasting the pieces myself for a larger crumb size.
  • Chicken broth (and most other broth flavors while we’re at it) can contain wheat ingredients. I’ve discovered the Pacific Foods brand and won’t go back to anything else. Their broths and some soups are dairy free, gluten free, soy free, yeast free, corn free, and the list goes on. I’m using this organic broth for my stuffing this year.
  • I haven’t purchased the sausage for my stuffing yet, but I’ll most likely be picking up this Boar’s Head robust Italian chicken sausage because it’s packed with flavor and gluten free. I plan on using a trick I learned from Hello Fresh and slicing off the casing to use the inside only.

Gravy:

  • Since I’m not cooking in a kitchen near the turkey, I plan on using a mix to make my gluten free gravy – no judgment whatsoever to people who use the packets. It’s easy! I’ll be whipping up my gravy with this McCormick gluten free turkey gravy mix.

Dessert:

  • This one is simple – I make a sweet potato pie but just without the crust. I’ll share my recipe soon, but just know that it’s basically the same recipe as a normal sweet potato pie. Butter up the sides of your pan so that the sweet potato can crisp up and form a crust of its own.

What are YOU making for Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a creative gluten-free spin on a traditional dish? I’d love to hear what you’re cooking up! Reach out by commenting below or leaving a comment on my Instagram post.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

 

*Note: None of the links in today’s post are affiliate links. I’m not making any money off of them. I just really love these products and want you to love them too. 

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.

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“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!

 

Turkey & Chicken Andouille Sausage Gumbo

My first time cooking gumbo was definitely an interesting one. I’m a Michigan girl, born and raised an hour north of Detroit, so I’m pretty sure it can go without saying that gumbo wasn’t a dish that was frequently whipped up in my household growing up. I recently traveled to New Orleans (twice last October!) and fell in love with the creamy creole goodness that is gumbo. We’ve been through what seemed like 365 days of January, a snow storm, and then a cold, wet rain/sleet mixture, so naturally I’ve been reminiscing back to warm New Orleans and felt the need to recreate the gumbo that I grew so fond of.

Disclaimer: Let me just remind you that this was my first attempt at making gumbo, so there were most certainly a fair amount of mistakes made (man, that roux is tricky!). I have faith that the next attempt will be even better!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups (gluten-free) flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oil – We used canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups (4 whole) sliced chicken andouille sausage
  • 2 quarts gluten-free chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, cayenne peper, creole spice
  • 2 cups shredded cooked turkey meat
  • Steamed rice
  • Large soup pot

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Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make your roux: In your large soup pot, heat oil and GF flour together over LOW heat, stirring CONSTANTLY until it becomes a nice, dark brown color. This is where I messed up – I didn’t stir long enough before moving to step 2, so my roux was a more golden brown color vs. the darker, nutty brown that you’ll typically see. I didn’t notice a flavor profile difference in mine, but the visual just wasn’t the same.
  2. Once your roux has gotten pretty fragrant and met the dark brown color of your gumbo dreams, add in the onions, pepper, and celery. Stir frequently for about 4 minutes.
  3. Add in your minced garlic and the sliced chicken andouille sausage. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add stock, bay leaves, salt, cayenne pepper seasoning, and creole seasoning to taste. I added more seasonings to taste over time, so I advise starting with a little bit at first.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 hour.
  6. Add shredded turkey and simmer 30 more minutes. Feel free to taste test your yummy concoction and add more seasonings at this time.
  7. Gumbo gets better as the seasonings expose their flavors over time. Feel free to stop here, or simmer for even longer.
  8. Serve over steamed rice.

Enjoy!

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This recipe makes A TON of gumbo – I feel like we’ve been eating leftovers for years (I was naughty and made this a week or so ago and haven’t had time to post – sorry!). We’ve been keeping our leftover gumbo stored in our freezer and feel like it’s just as good or better each time we serve it.

I really feel like I went outside of my comfort zone with this recipe since it’s something I typically wouldn’t cook. To be completely honest, before my Celiac diagnosis, a lot of these recipes that I’ve been sharing I wouldn’t have made, but life throws you curveballs and you just have to adapt, right? I know it’s not the healthiest gluten-free meal option out there, but it’s comforting and definitely something we Michiganders need with this yucky weather.

If you try this recipe out, give me a shout – I’d love to see your results and know what you think! Give yourself time and enjoy the process – I know I did 🙂

Until next time, friends.

Bon appétit! 

 

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Energy Balls

We’re smack dab in the middle of Snowstorm Mateo here in Detroit, which means we have another cozy weekend inside ahead of us. After seeing the snowy forecast, I was able to run to the nearest grocery store to stock up on goodies for some fun new (gluten-free) creations in the kitchen.

I cannot wait for you all to try this recipe! I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting different versions of these oatmeal energy balls and had been dying to try to make them myself. They were a little messier to make than anticipated, but they’re SO delicious, healthy, and inexpensive to make – all worth the quick clean up in the end. Plus, pop them in the freezer and you’ve got yourself a quick fill-up that’s ready when you are.

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Here’s what you need:
  • Large bowl for mixing
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup ground flax seed
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. In no particular order, combine all ingredients into your large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix. I started with a wooden spoon but later switched to kneading with my hands to really make sure everything was evenly distributed. This contributed to my messy counter, but it’s okay – that’s why they invented sponges!
  3. Place the entire bowl in your freezer – set aside for about an hour. Some people will tell you to just set in your fridge, but I found my mixture held together better post-freeze sesh.
  4. Using your hands, roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Mine definitely varied in size, but that’ll just help when I need a bigger snack later on, right?!
  5. Place balls on a plate and set aside in your freezer for another half hour or so. Feel free to nibble on any falling pieces – I sure did!
  6. I stored my energy bites in a Tupperware container and am keeping them in my freezer until I’m ready. Enjoy!

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These little bites have the perfect combination of peanut butter, chocolate, and coconut and are sure to add that extra boost of energy needed post-yoga, during the mid-day slump at your desk, or as an easy grab-and-go breakfast. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Let me know what you think by posting a comment below or posting one on our instagram: AgainstTheGrainDET

Bon appétit! 

February 2018: Kristie

When I started my blog, I wanted to make a point to include other voices besides my own. I’m not the only one out there who is struggling with a love/hate relationship with food. I think it’s important to not only share MY story with you guys, but also let others use this outlet to express their learnings. What surprised me most in this process is how many of my friends are working through similar dietary restrictions as mine. The Guest Contributor Series in Against The Grain will include these friends (and possibly some of you!) sharing their journey and some recommendations for you all! 

I’m so happy to share one of my closest friend’s story with you today – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Here’s Kristie: 

 

To Cheese, or Not to Cheese, That is the Question

Kristie here. First time guest blogger, and so incredibly honored to type here. Much like Amanda I live a life with a diet that requires restriction. Unfortunately, my frenemy is cheese. This begs the question, who doesn’t love cheese? There are so many kinds that pair great with crackers, wine and conversation; however, cheese does not love me.

I discovered my affliction for cheese later in life, after my college graduation. I guess I always felt discomfort from the golden dairy goodness but it took my desire to begin a healthy post college lifestyle to discover a true sensitivity. I cut cheese from my diet temporarily, among many other things, like gluten, in order to get in shape. Once I began incorporating the omitted food back into my diet, I began to get sick. It took nearly 1 year to realize my illness stemmed from cheese.

Now, 6 years later, I am cheese free, but not completely dairy free. This may sound confusing but I somehow managed to develop this sensitivity through my restrictive diet to only cheese. It certainly perplexes any server who discovers my cheese, but not necessarily dairy free, ordering habits; however, I have learned to live with it. So today my contribution to Against the Grain will be my go to favorite dishes from various local restaurants. As a disclaimer, I don’t dash for cheese substitutes when I dine (I think this is mainly because I remember what the real thing tastes like). Instead, I go for dishes that come without cheese or are easy to order without it. As a result, a majority of the dishes I recommend are not completely dairy free. So order wisely if you are dairy free!

1. This first one is a recommendation I should have made to everyone about 1 month ago. The mushroom vegetarian dish from Craftwork Restaurant in West Village Detroit.  Unfortunately this dish is no longer on the menu; however, it is my absolute favorite. It is filled with mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes and covered in a creamy, hearty, red sauce that tasted like it had mozzarella cheese in it. Seriously I had to ask my server like 10 times if she was sure there wasn’t cheese in it! It even comes with a grilled slice of baguette bread for dipping into the savory, pretending to be cheesy, sauce. Craftwork constantly changes their menu, including their vegetarian entrée, and it never seems to disappoint. This place is vegan and GF friendly.

2. The Caesar Salad from GreenSpace Cafe in Ferndale. It includes almond parmesan “cheese” on top and it is a vegan and completely dairy free dish! GreenSpace is the only spot that truly understands how to re-create the cheese taste. Really anything from this place is amazing for those who are vegan, gluten free, nut free, and even soy free.

3. The Marinara Pizza from Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina in Royal Oak. I just call this place Biga. It is cheese free with Oregano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I like to add chili flakes for an extra kick. You can even get GF crust. They also have other locations in Ann Arbor, Southfield, and a traveling food truck.

4. The grits with a fried egg, chives and omit the cheese from Public House in Ferndale. The grits are creamy and delicious without the cheese and they add sriracha sauce for a kick. This place is great for brunch, dinner, cocktails and beer.

5. The wok fired brussel sprouts and seaweed salad from Peterboro in Detroit. The brussel sprouts are filled with garlic and some spicy heat, while the seaweed salad has crispy quinoa, chilies and pickled mushrooms. This is a Chinese spot, which means there’s basically zero cheese in their dishes. Hooray!

I could go on for days with all of my cheese free recommendations, but hopefully this is a good start to provide your taste buds with as much happiness as mine!

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!