Another gluten free member of the family

I just looked back at the blog I wrote on July 12th talking about our switch to a gluten free diet due to Dan’s GI problems. Well it’s been 5 months and Dan is still gluten free, there have been a few glutinous foods that have snuck back into the house, for the kids. And the fact that Beth works at Great Harvest Bread Store 2 days a week means that she is bringing home treats that she hides in her room. But Dan has stuck with it, it has helped his GI problems significantly, or at least enough that he sticks with the diet without any complaints. We were hopeful that it would help eliminate some of his back pains but it hasn’t seemed to make a difference with that.

As for me I followed along with the diet MOST the time but every now and then I would eat some of the treats that the kids had around. And often when I was out I would eat whatever. Until I decided that my food choices needed to be revamped and I went back on the Fat Flush Diet for a few weeks. As I’m sure you remember from my daily blogs: all grains, sugar and dairy are eliminated. So I was on diet boot camp for several weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, then I had 4 days of eating all the yummy thanksgiving days foods and leftovers.

That’s when it hit me, the CONSTANT itching that had plagued me for years, that would wake me up nightly, and my constantly itchy scalp had all stopped while I was on the Fat Flush but had come right back during my Thanksgiving feasts. A friend of a friend had been advised by her Dr. to give up gluten to help with her itchy skin. It made me wonder were they tied together. Was I actually allergic to gluten thus all the itching. Sure enough the night I decided to eat pizza I woke up itching. Then another thing occurred to me, the really dark circles that are always under my eyes, that my mom is constantly harping about, they had gone away. Dark circles usually mean allergies, were they tied to the gluten too? Well the circumstantial evidence was enough for me. I’m off the gluten and enjoying my itch free nights!

Peppers, peppers and more peppers

Last week when the weather was turning really cold I decided it was time to finally harvest all the green peppers that were floating around the yard. Dan likes to put pepper plants wherever he can find space.

I ended up with 5 big bowls of peppers; sweet, medium and hot.

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First I decided to pickle the hot peppers. I ended up with 12 jelly jars of pickled peppers. Dan had pickled 8 pint jars of peppers earlier in the summer, so I think we’ll have more than enough pickled peppers to get through the year.

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The next day I chopped up all the Poblano peppers and sealed then in freezer bags, I ended up with 10 bags, each with 2 cups of peppers. Even with gloves on I could feel a little bit of the heat getting to my fingers. These pepper plants were super prolific, each plant had at least 30 peppers on it.

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Then finally a few days later I got around to chopping up the sweet peppers. I decided to chop up some onions also and seal the mixture in freezer bags. I got 4 bags with 2 cups peppers and 2 cups of onions each.

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I didn’t have as many bags of sweet peppers as I usually do for the winter, which is too bad. I really don’t like to buy peppers since the organic ones are so expensive and almost all the peppers are coming in from Mexico. I guess the kids will just have to learn to live with the heat of the hot peppers.

Durian the stinky fruit!

Daniel has always been my kid that likes to cook. Before he went away to college we used to watch several different cooking shows regularly. After he went away I had to stop watching those shows because it made me too sad to watch them without him. He didn’t do much cooking when he was at school unless you count microwaving ramen noodles. So the other day, after working all day, he decided to needed to stop by an Asian grocery store on the way home and buy a durian (I do not know what goes through that boys head.) Not an inexpensive fruit he shelled out $10 for the massive thing.

Anyone who watches Andrew Zimmern’s show Bizarre Foods, knows that this is 1 of only 3 foods from around the worlds that made him throw up and he eats some really nasty stuff. He compares the taste to “completely rotten, mushy onions.” Anthony Bourdain, a lover of durian, relates his encounter with the fruit as thus: “Its taste can only be described as…indescribable, something you will either love or despise. …Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”

Here’s some more info from Wikipedia: The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust. The odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.

Which is why Daniel is cutting up the fruit outside, on the back porch.

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I am one of those people that find the smell to cause “intense disgust” so much so that my gag reflex was acting up, my stomach was turning and it was making me salivate (and not in a good way.) Daniel seemed to be able to move past the smell to the point that it didn’t bother him (at least that’s what he said, I don’t believe him.)

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When you cut into it, it has these strange pods that you can scrape the custard-like fruit off of.

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It was quite the messy procedure:

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Lucky us we ended up with quite a large bowl of this disgusting fruit. Which he then wanted to put inside in my refrigerator. Daniel tried to appease me by telling me that fruit was naturally organic since it grows 80-165 ft in the sky and nothing can penetrate its prickly shell. He then found a recipe online (coincidentally, from a RAW food blog that I follow) for Durian Ice Cream, ooh yum, NOT!

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So while I was gone to my art class he proceeded to make the durian ice cream, in the kitchen. Which led to several arguments between Dan and Daniel about the smelly fruit. Daniel has become quite defensive of the odiferous substance.

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While the ice cream looks pretty good and tastes ok it still smells rank, which completely ruins the taste for me.

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Daniel is trying to convince us that he actually likes it. But I’ve noticed that the massive bowl of ice cream is still sitting in my freezer untouched! So if anyone wants to come over and try Durian Ice Cream, we have plenty to share. (*Mom & Dad guess what you’re getting for dessert Sat. night!)

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CSA June 17

This is the point in the CSA where the spring and early summer greens are ending but the mid-summer crop has not yet come in full force. So the pick up was not as much this week and we did get an apology from the farmers. I still thought it was a good amount of veggies, though.

And here is what we got:

Cherry tomatoes

Tomatillos

2 mini zucchinis & 2 mini yellow squash

2 onions

2 green peppers

1 cucumber

1 head of lettuce

The cherry tomatoes were eaten right out of the bowl and were gone by the end of the day.

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What are tomatillos you may be wondering; The tomatillo, or husk tomato, is a relative of the common tomato native to Latin America, where it is popular in cuisine. Tomatillos are sometimes difficult to find in conventional markets, but they are usually available in Hispanic grocery stores.

Tomatillos have a refreshing, crisp flavor that is an excellent complement to salsas and other Mexican dishes. They can either be eaten raw or briefly blanched in a pan until their skins burst, creating a smooth sauce to work with. The tomatillo is also rich in vitamin C. Chilies complement the cool flavor of tomatillo very well and can be mixed with a tomatillo sauce and fresh coriander for a simple salsa.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with the tomatillos. I had this same problem last year, the only thing I came up with was making up a bunch of hot sauces to freeze (still have lots in the freezer) so I need to find something different to do with them this year. I might try this White Bean Chicken Chili or Potato and Bean Enchiladas.

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I tried grilling some of these mini-squashes in my new grill basket, last night for dinner. But the slats are too big on the basket so the veggies kept falling out and my grill wasn’t working so we ended up with warm, raw veggies. I still thought they were OK, but they would have been much better if they would have been grilled for real and not just pretend. I also sliced one of the squash real thin and put it in the salad but turns out my family doesn’t like raw squash in their salads.

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The peppers were used in a salad along with some of the onions and the lettuce.

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This cucumber is still in my fridge along with several from my garden and some of the ones that I got from the produce co-op. I’ve made Cucumbers with sour cream and dill salad this week along with sour pickles that are fermenting on my counter top right now. I also want to try making Tzatziki Sauce but since we’re now gluten free, I’m waiting until I can pick up some GF pitas.

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And here’s the group photo:

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For more information about this CSA you can contact:

Ben and Lisa Sippel

Sippel Family Farm

www.sippelfamilyfarm.com

419-946-1394

All produce on the Sippel Family Farm is grown using
sustainable principles and without synthetic chemicals.
Everything that we sell at market and offer in our CSA
program is grown by US on OUR farm. We NEVER buy
wholesale products from auctions or other farms. We
encourage you to ask other producers at the market if they
do the same.

Fruit Utopia

We are in organic fruit utopia around here this week! A great friend just started up an organic produce co-op, where every 2 weeks we’ll get deliveries of all kinds of organic fruits and veggies. It works the same as our other monthly bulk co-op but this one deals only with produce. The delivery was wed and we’ve already made a good size dent in all this fruit!

I spent just under $100 for all this organic yumminess:

8 avocados @.80each $6.40
6# cucumbers @1.42/lb $8.52
2# strawberries @2.50/lb $5
2 pineapples @ $2.86/each $5.72
10# blueberries $38
6# cherries @3.33/lb $19.98
5# grapes @ 1.95/lb $9.75
10 peaches @.56 each $5.60
TOTAL $98.97

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1 package of cherries was eaten that first day, another sits in the upstairs fridge waiting to be munched. The other 2 bags will probably get pitted and frozen.

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1 container of strawberries was used in a frozen strawberry “cream” pie (sweetened with a little maple syrup, using nuts for the creaminess, and a nut & date crust plus a layer of blueberries.)

The pineapples will be sliced up and eaten as snacks. We go through a couple pineapples a week, it’s the favorite fruit of at least a couple people in the house.

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Since we are also getting cukes from the garden these will be used to make fermented pickles. Unlike traditional pickles, fermented pickles are never cooked so they stay crunchy plus they have beneficial bacteria that’s good for your gut.

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We started with 2 big bags of sweet juicy grapes but Beth has already finished off one of them.

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and here’s 10# of organic blueberries, handfuls were eaten on the car ride home, a bowl was left in the refrigerator for snacking , a cup or 2 was used in the strawberry cream pie and the rest were frozen to be used in fruit smoothies. I love blueberries!

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last but definitely not least the peaches and avocados: The peaches still need to ripen so they’re sitting on the counter. Some of them are destined for a frozen yogurt recipe the rest will be munched on or used in smoothies.

The avocados will mostly be eaten by Daniel and me. I like 1/2 an avocado in my salads and Daniel likes to eat it right out of the shell. We’ll also make up some guacamole which everyone LOVES. And if there are any left after all that I can make them into an awesome chocolate mousse recipe (that you would never know the base ingredient is avocados!)

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We love our fruit around here!

CSA June 10

I love when I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. This past Sat. Dan and I did our regular stroll through the farmers market and came home with our bounty. So I cleared out all the veggies from last week in the refrigerator and made them into a big salad. Then i used all the scrap veggie parts to cook up some veggie broth for the week. It smelled so good, while it was cooking. I’m going to try and stay on top of all the veggies by doing this same routine each week.

And here is what we got this week:

Fennel (2 bulbs)

Garlic (2 heads)

2 zucchini & 2 pattypan squash

Cabbage

a bunch of kale

green leaf lettuce

okra

Dan tried lightly grilling the fennel last week and that just didn’t work out, it was too tough to eat. It really needs to be cooked a bit longer. And no matter what that article said it does still taste like black licorice to me. This week I’m going to try a recipe that was sent by Lisa (one of the owners of the farm.)

Squash and Fennel Sauté:

Slice 1 or 2 bulbs of fennel ( the white part)

Slice 4 small or 2 large summer squash (any will be fine, zucchini, yellow, or patty pan)

mince 2 cloves garlic

In a pan heat 2 TBS oil, add fennel and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the squash to the pan, cook an additional 2 minutes. Add ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp ground coriander, and the minced garlic. Continue cooking until you can smell the garlic, remove from the heat and serve.

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These are the PattyPan squash, Ben the other owner of the farm said these are similar to yellow squash but they don’t turn to mush when cooked. They can also be stuffed and baked.

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More cabbage… Here’s another recipe that Lisa sent out this week maybe I’ll give it a try. I had a veggie soup epiphany, so this cabbage is destined for that soup!

Thai Peanut Slaw:

In a large bowl add 1 head cabbage; shredded

2 large carrots; grated

1 cup snap peas; sliced thin.

In another bowl, mix together

1 cup Asian sesame salad dressing (Newman’s Own is my favorite)

1/4 cup peanut butter (I like chunky)

1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)

mix with vegetables and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Note: you can also make your own dressing if you would like: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 TBS grated fresh ginger ( or 1/2 teaspoon dry), 1 minced clove of garlic, and 1 TBS toasted sesame seeds or 1 tsp toasted sesame oil.

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This Kale will probably be added to a salad, I’ve been picking fresh Kale daily for our morning smoothies. I love having fresh kale in the garden!

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Green Leaf Lettuce

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Okra, not sure what I’m going to do with this. Maybe a pot of veggie soup?? That would also be a good use for the kale. I think the kids would enjoy a veggie soup more than another salad. OK definitely going to mix up a pot of soup this week.

This recipe from About.com caught my eye:

Cajun or Creole seasoning adds spice to this flavorful okra soup.

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 green onions, with most of green, sliced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I’ll use that veggie broth I made Sat)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained (still have some that we canned from last years garden)
  • 8 to 10 ounces okra, about 3 to 4 cups sliced, fresh or frozen, thawed (I won’t have nearly that much okra to add, but I’ll be adding other veggies, too)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (canned or frozen thawed) (we just happen to have some left over corn on the cob from the market so I’ll cut it off the cob and add it to the soup)
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • dash freshly ground black pepper
  • salt, to taste
Preparation:

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, and celery; sauté, stirring, until celery is tender. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, sliced okra, corn kernels, Cajun seasoning, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until okra is tender. Add salt to taste.
Serves 4.

Looks like I’ll be making this soup today but I’ll also be adding cabbage and kale.

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And here it is all together:

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For more information about this CSA you can contact:

Ben and Lisa Sippel

Sippel Family Farm

www.sippelfamilyfarm.com

419-946-1394

All produce on the Sippel Family Farm is grown using
sustainable principles and without synthetic chemicals.
Everything that we sell at market and offer in our CSA
program is grown by
US on OUR farm. We NEVER buy
wholesale products from auctions or other farms. We
encourage you to ask other producers at the market if they
do the same.

Diet confusion

It’s been at least 2 years maybe longer since I started transforming our diets. Since we’ve been eating more whole foods and less sugar that has eliminated A LOT of the baking that used to happen here. Sometimes I miss it and sometimes the kids rebel when I’m not home and attempt to whip up cookies by borrowing ingredients from the neighbors.

The newest change to our diets is the elimination of gluten. I had not embraced the gluten free lifestyle previously, I didn’t think gluten was a major contributor to our diets and I didn’t think that anyone had problems with it. I’m still learning about this way of eating and trying to figure out all the hidden sources of gluten, which is not quite as easy as you would think. One thing I have learned by cleaning out my kitchen we really did have way more gluten products than I thought.

I did attempt a similar diet when Beth was first diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, we tried to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet which pretty much eliminates all gluten, most dairy and all sugar and I can’t remember what all else. I wasn’t quite as kitchen savvy back then and most of the foods turned out pretty yucky and with Beth being young and sick she just refused to eat anything. So after a bit we gave up that diet. If I had known then what I know now that diet would have been so much easier to integrate into our lives.

Now I am looking at a gluten free diet again but for Dan. He has always had GI problems and we have often joked that Beth’s Crohn’s must have come from him. After years of testing, many drugs and nothing that has really helped I decided it was time to dramatically change his diet and see if that could make a difference. So step 1 remove all the gluten.

Oh my, as 2 pretty intelligent and very food savvy people you wouldn’t think this would be so difficult for us. I’ll get texts from Dan while he’s at work, I’m starving what can I eat. Me, umm i don’t know meat, fruit, veggies. Him nope, I don’t have any of that, can I eat mini-wheat’s? Me, umm seriously it says wheat right in the name.

So after telling Dan we were going to do this and him having  a complete break down about what he’s allowed to eat, I decided now would be a good time to go to the grocery store for some supplies. The shopping epiphany came to me while I was at Thomas’ dance class which gave me exactly 20 min to shop in a grocery store I’ve never shopped in before, looking for things that i have never bought before. I was completely overwhelmed, I did find the Bob’s Red Mill section of the store and I just started throwing things in my cart because the time was ticking away: GF flour, GF pizza dough, GF pancake mix (never mind that Dan doesn’t usually eat pancakes,) GF cake mixes (hmm haven’t baked a cake in years, I did put the white cake mix back onto the shelf) GF brownie mixes (ditto, but I did leave the store with 2 of these.) I don’t know what happened to me, I went GF crazy! On my drive back to the dance class I  thought what the heck am I doing? We’re supposed to not be eating processed sugary foods. Hmm…

OK time to breathe, I can do this. I have lots of GF and raw food blogs that I follow. I also put a ton of GF books on hold at the library. I know lots of people that eat this way without filling up on sugary processed foods. But still those brownie mixes will come in handy when we’re going somewhere that we should bring a dessert  and I want something quick and easy to make.

I think this is going to be quite an adventure. I just hope Dan see’s some significant improvements pretty quickly so he’ll be motivated to stick with it. Eating this way at home is fine and pretty easy it’s when he’s out on the road all day that the challenges occur. And unless he’s noticing some changes it will be easy to spiral back to unhealthy choices.