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How do I envision living in a better gluten-free world?

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Good day to you.  My vision of living in a better gluten-free world is rather simple:  Having gluten-free food choices and being able to enjoy all of those choices in all settings.  That’s a simple enough statement isn’t it?  But where would or should those same gluten-free food choices and settings be?  That, my friend, is the more difficult question isn’t it?

Currently, food choices have greatly expanded in the main-stream Grocery store and the Health Food store for gluten-free food items.  Choices have also expanded with gluten-free menu items with National restaurant chains and with some Independent restaurants as well.  We celiacs, and gluten-free, are also making progress in regard to being able to purchase gluten-free food items more conveniently and at a cheaper cost than in the past.

However, I’m going to turn the silver-lining of the cloud of optimism upside-down.  There is a stigma of celiac, gluten-free which exists with family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. I only state ‘stigma’ as there is no knowledge easily accessible out there, without specifically researching “celiac, or gluten-free diet” in regard to celiac, gluten-free on the Internet.  Eating gluten-free in settings such as your family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers without risk of cross-contamination is no small undertaking.  Education in regard to how your personal involvement with family, friends and acquaintances, and co-workers react to your gluten-free world is paramount in regard to your survival and health.  Most do not know the consequence of you even eating a crumb of gluten and how it will affect you.  It is your job to educate others.

A better gluten-free world?  People close to you will have to educate for themselves on what a gluten-free, celiac world means to you.  But others will not.  It’s up to you to figure out who is your advocate, and who is not.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free.

Peace be with you.

Cooking From Scratch with Nutrition and Health

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Good day to you.  If you follow this blog and my Twitter feed, you know me to be very conscious of health and nutrition when preparing meals.  As a celiac, I feel it is most important to eat as healthy as I can due to the damage already done to my digestive system.  With more nutrition packed into each meal, the more nutrients are absorbed and the healthier I am.

When I’m in my kitchen, I like to cook from scratch with recipes whenever possible.  This is helpful to me on a lot of levels.  Foremost, I am in control of what foods go into my dishes.  I’m also in control of the quality of those foods in regard to freshness.  Additionally, I’m able to control the amount of preservatives, sodium, and artificial dyes and flavors in my dishes.  When I cook from scratch, it enables me to have control over each ingredient in my dishes.  I like having this much control as I feel more confident I will not be “glutened” in my own kitchen.  Also, I’m not dependent on any manufacturer of pre-packaged food items in regard to the accuracy of their nutritional and allergen information.

As you probably know in your own lives, I don’t think its possible to cook from scratch every day for every meal.  Life is just not like that.  That said, I’ve seen tips from others whereas they spend the majority of one day cooking for the week ahead and freezing food items in serving size portions.  I’ve seen other tips whereas people will cook items for more than one dish – like chicken for stir-fry with vegetables one night and tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese the next.  Or, make a salad with fresh greens and vegetables as a side dish for dinner, a lunch the next day, and dinner the next night – cooking from scratch is still being achieved.

As I’ve stated in previous blog posts, I do not live in your household.   You may already have ideas or practices in place to maximize cooking from scratch in the amount of time you have in your kitchen.  If so, good for you!  If not, please reference the Internet and Twitter for good ideas to maximize nutrition and health while cooking from scratch.  Live well and be healthy.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free – and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness for April.

Peace be with you.

Back to the Basics – What any Celiac (or other) Chef Should Have in a Well-stocked Kitchen

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Good day to you.  In this blog I would like to go back to the basics and explore what should be in a well-stocked Kitchen for you, celiac – tools!

Why do I mention tools?  Everybody mentions food, recipes, nutrition, and how healthy celiacs and autoimmune disease survivors should be on Twitter and blogs.  However, I don’t hear much of a mention on what you should have on-hand, in regard to tools, to make all of the great recipes that are available to you, celiac.

I remember moving into my first apartment and the lack of kitchen tools I had.  That was after I thought I had gotten all the “basic” stuff I felt I needed when I moved into that apartment!  With that said, what should the newly independent-living chef have in their culinary toolbox?  Here are some tips:

  • A set of knives.  If you are just starting out as a newly independent chef, purchase the best-quality of knives your budget will allow.  I recommend a set which comes with steak knives in a wooden holder.  You will not be able to dice, chop, slice or otherwise prep your healthy food without this tool-set.
  • A dedicated “gluten-free” cutting board.  Other than stating cross-contamination issues with gluten, I don’t think any other explanation is needed in regard to the need for acquiring this tool.
  • Pots and pans with lids.  A complete necessity.  When starting out, you will need at least a small and large sauce pan, a large frying pan or cast-iron skillet, and a dutch-oven or stewpan.  Over time, you can add other items such as a double-boiler pan, medium sauce pans, other sized sauté pans, etc.
  • Baking pans and dishes.  For basic home cooking, you will at least need a few varying sizes of casserole and/or baking pans.  In USA, 8 inch by 8 inch and 9 inch by 13 inch dishes (both square) are popular.  Also popular here is the 9 inch, 2 quart circular casserole dish with lid.  If you want to bake your own bread, guess what?  You’ll need to invest in a loaf pan or two.  What about cookie sheets for those home-made cookies and dessert bars you crave?  I would also suggest getting cooling racks for your bread and cookies.  Another nice item offered in the USA is an 8 to 10 inch pie pan.
  • Cooking spoons, spatulas, and tongs (metal, plastic, or silicone).  Once you have your pots, pans, and baking pans and dishes you’ll need to be able to stir, fold, and turn-over whatever you are cooking or baking.
  • Measuring cups – liquid and dry.  Yes, there is a difference if you are a beginning chef.  I recommend the basic USA Measure Cup system, British Measure in Ounces, or otherwise Metric in millilitres for liquids. I also recommend you getting at least one larger measuring cup for quarts, pints, and litres for liquids.  In addition, I recommend the basic US Measure Cup system, British Ounces, or Metric in grams for dry ingredients.  This item is generally offered as a set of graduating larger measures.
  • Measuring spoons.  I recommend the basic USA Measure system, British Measure in Ounces, or Metric in grams for wet or dry  ingredients.  This item is generally offered as a set of graduating larger measures.
  • Mixing containers.  You will need varying sizes of mixing containers (plastic, metal, glass, or ceramic) depending on the size of your healthy recipes.  At a minimum, I would recommend the universal “small, medium, and large” sizes.  If you are a more intricate chef, then expand accordingly as your budget allows.
  • Food container bowls for left-overs.  In USA, these usually come as a set  in gradually larger sizes with lids.  You don’t need to go to great expense for this item.  If you are like most home chefs, you either lose the lid, the container, or both to the same place the one sock goes to from your laundry!
  • Other helpful, needed tools:  can opener, whisk, baster, cooking brush (to apply sauces or glazes), kitchen shears, meat and baking thermometers, oil/fat separator, More