Monday, August 5, 2013

Nut Free and Dairy Free!!! Yes!!! It Can Happen!!!

My five year old niece is allergic to nuts. I love her but you have to find or substitute certain items so she does not get into anaphylactic shock. I posted on Facebook my goodies that I have been recently baking. My cousin asked me if I had any recipes on nut free baking. I've been baking a lot of gluten free fav....white chocolate chip pumpkin cookies! Yum!!! Orange Blueberry Pound Cake...Mmmmmm!!!! Etc, etc... So, as I said in my first post, I want to not only make a gluten free blog, I want it to make it nut and dairy free.  There are items that I have baked that do have almond flour or any nut flour and also dairy products. Yay for me that I can have those ingredients for my gluten diet, but boo for those that do have a nut and lactose allergy. 

I've been baking a lot of cakes and for the cake batter, I have substituted any nut flour for coconut or rice flour instead of nut flour. Well, what about the dairy part. Yay for so many other alternatives!!! Instead of butter, there is vegan butter of I use coconut oil. Can you tell, I love coconut. Mmmmm such an awesome substitute. If you do nut like coconut, then there's different oils or other flours of course. Why I like coconut, it's because with coconut oil, yes there is a lot of fat but this type of oil does not process and stays in your body as much as other oils, that the fat goes through your system quicker. Or if it asks for milk or cream, there is almond, soy or coconut milk that you can substitute also. 

What about frostings?!?!?!? Its made out of butter or milk/cream. As I said, there is vegan butter that you can use or substitute the cream with almond, so or coconut milk. If you want something thicker, there is canned coconut cream that you should refrigerate and because of the cooling process, the coconut cream and milk separates and you can scoop out the cream.

Of course the texture or taste is never the same, but it's a very, VERY close second to the real thing. You just need to learn how to change your palate. I did make amaranth bread and since I live alone and bake and cook for a three families, I bring my goodies to work or give it to friends. They love my baking/cooking. They asked for my recipes and I had asked to cook for a wedding! WOW! But I promise you, once you get to a science down on measurements and sooooo many errors I had made, you will figure out how to make your cooking/baking taste great, stay moist and not break down faster than usual. So sad, but yet fun for me, but at this point, I would rather stay in the kitchen than go out now. With the exception of some great outdoors adventure, of course! I love the outdoors! I love the mountains! But it's worth it to me and I hope to you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is All Hard Liquors Gluten Free??? Please say YES!!!

So I actually had just one cheat day after four months of starting gluten free. As a disclaimer, the only reason why I cheated was because this "cook off" that I had planned way in advanced, way before I started my gluten free diet. And it was of course a meatball cook off. Dope!!! I was the host and I love balls! I could not resist and try my friends balls! All different kinds and nationalities of balls! But that was my only cheat day! Instead of the cornucopias amounts of beers I had in my place, I was good and drank vodka.

If I had to pick my favorite liquor, it would be vodka. But.....what is vodka made out of? Answer: Vodka can be made from any organic material that ferments. Many commercial vodkas are made from grains like rye, oats, barley, or wheat. Some other commercial vodkas are made from caraway, molasses, fennel, corn, grapes, aniseed, pepper, sugar cane, potato, honey, or cherries.

Oh crap! I thought. I'm drinking the wrong thing. Gin - made from juniper berries, tequila - made from the agave plant, rum - from sugar canes and sake - from rice. But I love vodka!  So I did a bit more research on what I can or can't drink when it comes from hard liquor with my sensitivity. And the more I researched, the more I was falling in love with all liquors!!!

So this post is going to be similar to my vinegar post. But as I always have said, please do your research and read labels!!!  So here we go.....It's all about the distillation process of the alcohol. It breaks down the gluten proteins and therefore is gluten free. With whiskeys/whiskys(whatever spelling you prefer depending on the country you're in...and yes, I used to be a bartender at the time), they are usually made by the three major glutens: barleys, ryes and wheats. UGH, for you celiac lovers that love whiskeys. Per Celiac Sprue Association, it is not recommended for the celiac disease allergen's, but the distillation process breaks it down to less than 20 ppm(parts per million) that it considered gluten free. That means for all you guys that have a gluten sensitivity, YAY!!!

There is a list of alcohols that is recommended that you can drink in celiac disease website. I remember, not too long ago, I had a horrible, crazy and stressful day at work and my coworkers and I had decided WAAAYY in advanced to go out for a libation or two or more.... Well, after work, my friend decided to start off the night with "Fireball" shots. My friend forgetting that I was gluten free, he realized that those shots were made out of whiskey and decided to tell me after we did a shot or two after my double tall vodka grapefruits. Awwww crap, I thought, my cheat day I guess. It was well deserved after a horrid day of work.  After that, I began to do some research and realized, yes! I can drink those shots, hence because of the paragraph above! Thank you distillation process and parts per million! There's always a way out!

So for all you hard liquor folks that is reading my blog, here is my advice: If you have celiac disease, the true and real kind, my recommendation is to stay away from anything that has or had gluten. If you have more of a sensitivity, and you love your whiskeys, bourbons, vodkas, etc, etc, it's okay to drink it, but remember that there was gluten in there before the distillation process.

For more info about whiskeys and how it's broken down, click here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Beer!!! Say It Ain't So!!! Why Do You Have Gluten?!?!?!?!

I just hiked my fourth 14er yesterday! Mount Bierstadt! It was easier than the other three....okay, okay, well not as tough. If you like to hike, you know that 14ers are mountains over 14,000 feet. In the state of Colorado, there are 53 of them. Now you know where I live, the beautiful and awesome state of Colorado. So what does this have to do with this topic....well, let me tell you!!!! So once I got to the summit(the highest elevation of the mountain), not only was I excited and happy, I was hungry. All I brought with me was some cut up mangoes and Ranier cherries. My friends and I hung out for a bit up at the summit and headed down. As hiking back down to my car, my friends were about 10-15 minutes ahead of me. They are tall and have long legs. I, on the other hand, am short and have short legs. That didn't bother me that they were ahead. Looking at beautiful mother nature made me at peace and got me to contemplate about my life and personal issues. Well, one of them was(it's how I got the idea to write about this topic), my friends were having a BBQ and beer brewing party that day after the hike. My hunger pains for food now was getting stronger but worst of all, it was more my increased thirst and love for beer! I cried silently while hiking down the gorgeous mountain because all I wanted was BEER! I was craving for my Tucher or Pliny the Elder or Blanche de Bruxelles(known as the pissing baby ooorrrr I can't say the other name....sorry guys, too explicit). Give me a PBR(not my fav), the hippie beer, or an Old Style or Natural Ice Light(Natty Light as we say). I didn't care how great or horrible the beers were, I just wanted to taste the yummy gluten beer goodness! Yes, I can cheat and just drink beer, but I didn't and I'm happy I didn't.
Beers....."It just taste so good when it touches your lips!!!" For all of you gluten free people, as you know, we can't drink beer. It has all those wheats, ryes and barleys that we cannot eat. The three main glutens. However, there are alternatives to drinking beer. We all know there are gluten free beers. Some good, some bad, and some ehhhhh..... Most gluten free beers are made from sorghum or rice. But don't be fooled, some rice beers add some type of gluten like wheat to their beers, so please read labels! There are some beers that start out with gluten products but through the beer making process, it breaks down their proteins where it is considered to be gluten free, less than 20 ppm(parts per million). So what about ciders? Most ciders are gluten free, especially the popular ones you see in restaurants or bars, Strongbow, Woodchuck's Cider, Ace Pear Cider and Magners Cider. But, as I keep telling you, not all ciders are gluten free. Some brands add barley to their ciders, so beware. Click here for Top 10 Gluten Free Beers
To end all beer topics, I for one love beer, love everything about beer, can talk to you about different types of beer. My personal opinion is that gluten free beers are not the same as regular beer. There are some good gluten free beers, but for my love of beers, it's so hard to tell you I found the best gluten free beer ever! That's because I have not and still willing to try some out. I just stick to vodka(liquors like vodka will be another topic I will write soon) and grapefruit. I'm happy with this right now. I promise you, if I find a great gluten free beer, I will not hesitate to tell you what I found, but I am a beer snob and it's going to be hard. how I missed you sooooooo......

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Vinegars.....Gluten Free or Not Gluten Free??? That is the question???

Okay, so here's the deal about vinegars and the soy there gluten???? As my new lifestyle change in food, eating healthy is important to me. Before I get into facts and opinions about this subject, let me just tell you, I'm not a big fan of salads. I eat it and I have a craving of it at least once a month. But when I do eat them, I love vinaigrettes. Ranch...blah! Blue cheese...only for hot wings! 1000 island dressing....I miss Reuben sandwiches!! But salads, give me vinegar!!! Plus I love vinegars because it enhances and gives big flavors to dishes. I'm salivating over my quinoa dish I make often. Mmmmmmm!!!!

So now with vinegars, why are there vinegars that have gluten?!?!?! So here is the research that I have read and talked to my favorite gluten free doctor I work with - vinegars use gluten grains in order to create vinegar. But in the process of making vinegar, it breaks down the gluten. They have a measurement - ppm(parts per million). If it is under 20ppm's, it is considered gluten free via laws from United Kingdom and United States. And for the most part, most vinegars are under 20ppms. So does that mean you can use vinegar for people that have celiac disease? They may still have a reaction, but people that have a sensitivity, for the most part, they will be ok. Fortunately for me, vinegars like me! My advice, try it out and you have symptoms to gluten from the vinegars, don't eat it!

Soy sauces have this controversial issue about gluten. It's made out of soy! Yes, you're right, but some certain brand of soy sauces add gluten grains to their fermentation process to create soy sauce. There are some brand names that do not use gluten grains and are considered gluten free. Yay! So please be aware and always read your labels or do some research on it. Trust me, it's worth it!

Let's talk about types of vinegars....For instance, the infamous malt vinegar, forget about it!!! MALT!! Enough said! That is one vinegar you need to stay away! Distilled vinegars, depends what they use. Certain distilled vinegars can use corn, wheat, wood and other items and can have a combination of items. So look at the ingredients please! Some can be gluten free. Wine, rice, balsamic and apple cider vinegars are less than 20ppm so it should be good too. But remember, it can depend on the brand. They might add gluten grains to these vinegars.

My advice: Read the labels! Do the research on certain brand name vinegars!!! And once you find the ones you like, ENJOY!

Funny, I want a salad now! There goes my salad craving for the month..........

For more info check out this post on vinegars and soy sauce 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

About Me And Why I Am Now Gluten Free

gluten free with imee
So I decided to do this blog because of a change in diet and lifestyle that came about this year.  First of all, let me tell you about me before I got into this gluten free lifestyle......I am a big foodie. I eat everything. I love food. I love to cook. I grew up watching my mother, father and grandmother cook. Not only my family got me into cooking, which was mostly traditional Filipino food and whatever my parents can afford at the time, I was in love of my two favorite cooking shows in the 80's(yes before the food network!), The Frugal Gourmet and the most well renowned Julia Child. I loved PBS!  I first made a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry puree and chocolate ganache for my friend's 10th birthday party. And I think that was when I just wanted to cook. So why not go to cooking school you ask? My parents raised me to graduate high school, go to college and get a degree and become a successful doctor or lawyer or mathematician(because my mom knew how much I love math).  So I did. I worked from a Fortune 500 company to a small web company that was less than 20 employees setting up websites, making GUI designs, yadda, yadda, yadda......I HATED it! Cubicles....YUCK!!! Now, I'm a nurse and I love it!. My free time consists of being outdoors and cooking and baking and trying and tweaking out recipes and going out to upcoming and new restaurants. Life was good.

Now, as a big foodie, why did I turn to gluten free?????  Well it started over a year ago, I had this huge stomach issue. Not to gross you out but having everything coming out the wrong way for three days and finally was slowly getting better three months later was such a horrible thing for me. I ignored it and continued to do my "foodie" adventures as usual. The beginning of this year, it happened again. I decided to try different GI(gastrointestinal) diets that I would read in health magazines or look up in websites, but it never worked. Finally, I talked to one of my ER doctor(now you know what department I worked for), and he said, "Try a gluten free diet."

"No way!!!", I said, "I love bread and pasta and so many gluten yummy goodness!" After a week of resisting, I surrendered and started the gluten free diet. My first week was so hard and horrible. What was I thinking?!??!! I was on vacation in Austin and I started this diet?!!?!?  And...... going to restaurants was the worst. I wanted to die, but in the end, after the first week of gluten free of my life, I LOVED it! My stomach felt better.

As a why didn't I see a GI doctor? Yes, I still should and still meaning to make an appointment, but my stomach is 100 times better, I feel healthier and I have more energy, and I love this new diet. Yes, I still need to do more research, but what I have going now, it works. Of course I miss my sandwiches and pastas, etc, etc, but this is working for me. And I will still see a GI doctor.  I know I don't have a gluten allergy, I think it's more of a sensitivity. All I know is that when I eat gluten, I don't like it...or in actuality, my stomach HATES it!

Now, to be up to date. I have created and experimented with recipes from friends, cookbooks and online and made them my own. I also would try to substitute certain ingredients to make them lactose free or people that have nut allergies to accommodate my friends and family. I'm still a foodie and have cheated twice so far and eaten gluten products. But this is my new diet/lifestyle. I love it and I want to share it with you. So hang tight. I'm, new at this and hopefully there will be more to come. I hope you will like it.