Thursday, August 16, 2012

To be or not to be gluten free?

Going gluten free is definitely trendy, and I'm not one to try out a new diet or meal plan just because it's popular right now. However, after not feeling well for over a month, I decided to take a break from gluten for the time being and see if it affected how I was feeling.

And so my experiments with gluten free cooking and baking started. Gluten free cooking was not a big adjustment since we eat brown rice and quinoa often anyway, and using brown rice pasta tastes about the same as whole wheat. Since we also mostly eat clean too, I didn't need to do an extensive refrigerator review either.

However, the baking has been a challenge since there is no easy way to replace all-purpose or whole wheat flour with a gluten free substitute. Hopefully in the coming weeks I'll take up the challenge, but for now I'll share some easy - but delicious recipes - that did not require flour.

First up, is GreenLiteBites Banana, Oatmeal, and Chocolate Chip Muffins

I stuck to GreenLiteBites' original recipe except used regular almond milk instead of the vanilla flavored one, and I added a couple more tablespoons of chocolate chips at the request of my hubby. These are wonderful with a smoothie or yogurt parfait in the morning... or as a sweet treat in the afternoon!

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup almond milk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3 cups gluten free rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp. chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray, or use liners.
  4. Divide batter between 12 muffin cups, filling almost to the top.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or just until edges start to brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.
  6. Let muffins cool, and then remove them from the pan - they won't stick this way.
Lentil and Quinoa Veggie Scramble

This dish I invented on my own after having a little bit of lentils left over from the night before. I called it a scramble because you can really thrown in any combination of vegetables you have on hand, and it should taste great. It's also a scramble because I didn't measure anything precisely - hopefully you can follow these rough estimates and make it your own.

Serves 2
1/2 cup cooked lentils
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
Ground black pepper, seasoned to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chickpeas
Few handfuls of spinach
Lemon juice from 1/2 of a small lemon

  1. Cook lentils and quinoa according to package instructions. After they cook, mix them together with balsamic vinegar and 1 chopped garlic clove. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in pan and add chopped onions. Let brown for 5 minutes. Add in bell peppers and mushrooms with the remaining garlic, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, and ground pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in chickpeas and spinach, cooking until the spinach is wilted. 
  4. Turn off heat, and add lentil mixture. Squeeze lemon juice over top.

If you're wondering how I'm feeling after being gluten free for a week, I can definitely notice a difference in my energy levels. I also have less aches and pains and headaches. However, the combination of being settled in the new house and work slowing down has probably contributed too. After a visit with the doctor yesterday, she recommended that I stay gluten free until I feel 100% back to normal and then try slowly reintroducing gluten and keep track of how I feel. She said sometimes our bodies just need to be "re-calibrated" so to speak.

I'll keep you posted. And if you have any other easy gluten free baked goods recipes for me to try, please send them my way!

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