searchingtheshadows


A Gluten-Free Life and A Giveaway

Whole Grain Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Whole Grain Gluten-Free Banana Bread

It has now been approximately 5 months since I went gluten-free, and I’m feeling wonderful. I still have my days where I’m tired and exhausted, but I think I can safely blame that on life and stress. However, I am no longer in pain, and the couple of times I’ve accidently had some gluten filled food my world seems to get turned upside down. I become a non-functioning zombie, except I’m not convinced zombies feel pain. The absolute best part of going gluten-free has definitely been all of the side effects going away. The headaches, cramps, nausea, lower back pain, fatigue, etc. that preyed upon me for several months of my life has finally been captured and locked away. All in the name of gluten. (Several of my friends have benefited from some food which lurked in my cabinet attempting to prey upon me.)

I never suspected such a simple thing, such a natural element in my life, could have such a devastating impact on my body. So many people affected by such a simple, everyday thing. Off the top of my head I can think of 9 people I personally know that are also intolerant to gluten in some way. Wow! Who would have thought?

I also never imagined that going gluten-free would allow me to discover a new hobby and passion. Baking! Sure, I baked some stuff before, I did my share of cooking, but never like this. It was so easy to grab a box and throw it all together. A boxed cake mix, a couple eggs, maybe some oil, who needed anything else. I occasionally made the homemade chocolate chip cookies, but that was about it. However, since going gluten-free that has become a lot harder. Sure, I can still grab the small loaf of gluten-free bread from the store and grab a gluten-free brownie or cake mix from a box, and I occasionally do. But more than anything I now experiment. I use multiple types of flour, I research recipes, I’ve actually, with interest, read about different types of flours and how they work together.

Now granted, I don’t spend much time reading about them, as I’ve always preferred hand on learning. So instead I learn in the best way I can, experimentation! Oh the fun and relaxation this can be. It also helps that my husband will eat almost anything, so even when the experiment fails it’s usually still edible enough that it gets eaten! This definitely helps my experimentation as I don’t have to worry to much about the food getting wasted.

Of course, it’s also come with its challenges. Going out to eat or over to friends houses, seeing this food that looks amazing, and having to question almost every ingredient. Now thankfully I have amazing friends! Friends so amazing that they will spend extra time, effort, and sometimes money to cater to my needs. The Lord has truly blessed me with so many people in my life.

But there’s another challenge. Probably the biggest and hardest to overcome. The Price!! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Try walking into your nearest grocery store and finding the (probably quite small) gluten-free section. That little loaf of bread I mentioned early, the one that is about half the size of a normal loaf, it costs approximately $5.50! For a loaf of bread!

Now, for the millionaire who discovers he/she is intolerant to gluten or has celiac disease, this is probably not a big deal. They can spend a little more at the grocery store to purchase these specialty food without much trouble. But for the rest of us? This is a bit more challenging. Sure, we make it work, we make changes to our budget and our meals and we cope. And coped I have. I even in some ways enjoy the fact that I’ve had to cope. Not only do I eat healthier for me, but I tend to eat healthier in general now. Fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free after all, much more so then those delicious Little Debbie brownies. Oh, and I can pick and choose some of the flours I want in my recipes, which adds more variety and flavor to it all.

Whole Grain Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Whole Grain Gluten-Free Banana Bread

So, with all that in mind, I would like to share more of my gluten-free experiences with people. I want to write more posts that pertain specifically to being gluten-free. This might include more recipes, failed and successful experiments, etc. In addition, I also want to try and collect resources and ways to save money and live the gluten-free life on a limited budget, so eating gluten-free frugally basically. In order to do this effectively I’ve decided I’d like to start another blog devoted solely to that and leave this blog for the random stuff and my family, leaving this site to share latest news and slight updates on my life for friends and family.

In thinking about that goal, I have a challenge for you. I am horrible at coming up with names, so I’m asking for your help. And for your help I am going to offer a prize. I am looking for a creative name for a new blog, but also one that is fairly short and easy to remember, making it easy to type. If I choose your suggestion, or use an idea contrived based off of your suggestion, I will send you a homemade, gluten-free baked good, straight from my kitchen. (Don’t worry, I’ll make sure it’s one of my successful experiments before giving it to you.)

What are your suggestions?


Long time, no post and a new puppy

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. Oops! Anyway, within those few weeks I have finished the winter quarter of classes and am now that much closer to Internship, only one quarter of classes left before I will be serving somewhere doing something. May 2nd is the official day to find out, as that is the day of the Vicarage/Internship service where they announce our placements. This day feels so far away and so close all at the same time.
My next and final quarter start on Monday and it’s a bittersweet reality. Back to structured learning and more of my friends will be around again. Unfortunately it also marks the end of my mini-vacation in which I have managed to get some stuff done around the house for once and been able to spend some wonderful quality time with my husband. 

On a less serious but still exciting note, we now have a PUPPY! Kara is filled with energy and has definitely brought lots of excitement and happy times to our house (as well as the obvious frustrations and messes) but she makes up for it with her absolutely adorable cuteness.

Oh, and I have an iPhone now, which means I now have pictures!

The color in the kitchen wasn’t very good on this day. I’ll get better pictures next time.

She loves to play!

Have you had any recent changes?


Free Chocolate

Like many of you, I love chocolate, so I’m loving this deal. Please note I have not verified if these are GF or not.

There is currently a $1/2 Butterfinger Snackerz coupon available at Coupons.com.

These are priced at $0.39 each this week at Walgreens. This will allow you to get 2 free at Walgreens.

Print 2 coupons for 4 free pieces of chocolate!

 

Thanks to joyfullythriving for the heads up.


Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

So I decided to try a science project this morning and it has received great reviews. Here’s the recipe, enjoy. This is similar to the peanut butter cookies that don’t use flour, but with a lot of changes by me. Once I have my iPhone (just waiting for the Verizon release in February) I’ll have a camera and can start posting pictures, until then you have the opportunity to use your imagination to visualize the recipes.

2 cups peanut butter
2 cups  sugar
4 eggs
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz (half a bag) of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix it all together and spread in a greased 9×13 pan. Cook for 25mins, will remain gooey. Enjoy!

Next time I’m going to try these hot with a bowl of ice cream.


Applesauce Recipe

I decided to attempt to make homemade applesauce today because I needed to use up some old apples. Since I didn’t really like the look of any recipes I found I just decided to make up my own. I think it turned out pretty good, so I thought I’d share my recipe.

 

Approximately 3 cups of apples (4-5 apples) peeled, cored, and sliced.
3/4 cup of apple cider (you could use water or apple juice instead)
1/4 cup honey (adjust according to sweetness of apples)
1 tsp cinnamon
mix everything together in a pot with lid. Bring to boil and simmer  covered over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until apples are completely cooked and soft. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then mix in blender until apples are in very small chunks and everything is mixed together well.


Epiphany, Gluten-Free, and More

Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season, I guess my Christmas decorations will be coming down this weekend now. Although, I’m contemplating the idea of leaving up my little nativity scene year round. It’s quite small and will easily fit on a shelf, plus it will be a great daily reminder of God’s many gifts to us and how truly blessed we are despite all of life’s hardships.

So this post will cover several things, my gluten free diet, some goals of mine, and questions on what you are interested in knowing, I am very hopeful that I will receive lots of feedback from you so this can become more than me just writing stuff. I’m also looking for some suggestions on a couple different topics, but I’ll get to that later.

I’ll start with some goals. Now let me be perfectly clear, these are not new year’s resolutions. New year’s resolutions seem to be these plans people make just because it’s new years without much thought, they come up with them on New Year’s Eve because everyone else around wants to know what your resolutions are. Nope, I’m not doing that. But I am sharing my goals in hopes that by sharing them I may be better at completing my goals and have some level of accountability in the process.

  • Create a blog post at least once a week, inspired by the postaweek2011 challenge. (I am hoping that future posts are more topic oriented instead of being a bit of everything)
  • Plan meals weekly
  • Make low cost, tasty, gluten-free meals
  • Exercise at least twice a week
  • Organize my house
  • Avoid the typical American culture of always being rushed.

Not life altering goals here, but one’s I certainly have a desire to complete. So starting from the bottom (which will probably be one of the longest) I’m going to work my way up and tell you a bit about my desire and ask for opinions, suggestions, comments, etc.

Avoid the typical American culture of always being rushed- Perhaps this is on my mind because of the end of Christmas, which of course means the continuing of classes soon. These last couple of weeks have been very relaxing and I’ve been able to enjoy some wonderful time with my husband, and lots of time getting things accomplished around the house. I have had time to breath and enjoy the time Christ has given me here on earth. However, I can’t help but look forward and know that with classes starting up again this period of relaxation will end, as it should. However, why are we American’s so rushed? What exactly is so important that we forget to stop and breath? More importantly, how can we avoid the constantly rushed feeling? There always seems to be something else to do, and it always seems that it needed to be done yesterday. Right now it’s just me and my husband and I know children have to add to this. What is it about America that makes us fill every moment of the day with stuff? What are your thoughts? How do you take time to breath? How do you avoid the constant useless business? I don’t have the answers, but I’m hoping you have advice and opinions, please share.

Next goal up, Organize my house- This is a pretty obvious one, and a constant battle, which I know will get worse once classes start again. Any suggestions? How do you keep your houses organized and clean while juggling the rest of life?

That one was short, this one will be too, I promise- Exercise at least twice a week. For Christmas my husband and I received a Kinect, I also now have the “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” game to go with it. It seems really good so far, although have only used it once. I plan to continue this and try to stay on this goal.

I’m going to mix the next two, as I feel they go hand in hand. Plan meals weekly and make low cost, tasty, gluten-free meals-  This one poses it’s own unique challenges. As many of you will understand, we shop at the co-op weekly on Tuesdays. A large amount of our food comes from the co-op. However, going gluten-free makes the shopping experience a bit different. For me this rules out almost all cereals for breakfast, EVERY pasta which the co-op has, as well as almost all soups, gravy mixes, and bread. This also eliminates all breaded food, including the abundant amount of breaded chicken which is provided by the co-op. However, despite all of this I still find the food co-op to be a wonderful blessing for our meals. We eat a large amount of sausage, potatoes, and rice, as it’s the most commonly available at the co-op. This also leads me to continuously search for more recipes in order to have more variety of meals. Any ideas or recipes here would also be greatly appreciated.

So, my meals are attempted to be planned around what I can get from the co-op and being gluten-free. Since the co-op is only open on Tuesdays for shopping this also means meals mostly need to be planned mid-week, during the rush of classes, to accommodate. However, I’m actually hoping to have an outline for meals before Tuesday based on what the co-op usually has, allowing for some modifications after my shopping trip. This meal plan will probably figure most lunches to be leftovers as I will either be at work or school making a meal is not likely. I’m also going for 5 dinners a week instead of 7. If I do not have enough leftovers I can then fall back 1 or 2 nights a week to something easy and simple, rather then struggling all 7 nights with no plan. This will also be based off of almost everything being homemade and mostly from scratch. Since wheat (one source of gluten, the others are barley and rye) is in most things this includes breads, pizza crusts, cookies, desserts, etc. However, most recipes are either naturally gluten-free, they contain gluten(flour) and I substitute my own for it, or could easily be modified to be made with regular flour instead of the gluten-free flours.

A bit more about me being gluten-free. Here’s the facts I can give you. I don’t know that I actually have a gluten intolerance of any kind, I have not been to a doctor about this, and I have not undergone any medical tests. What I do know, however, is that since starting this diet my symptoms have gone away. I have also experienced an increase in energy most days and overall have felt much healthier than I have in quite some time. I also know that the couple of times since I started this diet that I have had things with higher amounts of gluten, once on accident, and once where I intentionally cheated (it was a soft pretzel, and totally worth it VERY occasionally.) At least some of the symptoms returned and I had a decrease in energy again. This has convinced me of one thing- Regardless of if I have a medical intolerance to gluten, I am maintaining this gluten-free diet, despite the cost. Gluten-free ingredients are more expensive but completely worth it for my own selfish desire to feel healthy. On that note I will mention that this has also made me smarter about what we purchase and where when it comes to groceries and has not yet been a huge increase in our food budget outside of an initial Amazon order which provided us with a couple of months+ worth of noodles and gluten-free flour substitute.

On this note it will tie into my next (and last, yes, I’m almost done, hurray!) goal. Create a blog post at least once a week, inspired by the postaweek2011 challenge. (I am hoping that future posts are more topic oriented instead of being a bit of everything)- What would you be interested in knowing? Since we’re all busy people are you interested in knowing what meals I plan for the week and what the recipes I’ll be using are? Are you curious about my feedback on recipes? Maybe you’re interested in knowing about books I’m reading/read or movies. Let me know what you want to here about as I’d love to share something useful with you. This feedback will help me in keeping to a topic rather than being so scattered. It will also keep my posts shorter!

Also, I’m looking for one more piece of advice from you all. I’m trying to come up with something (probably crafty) that I can do with my hands that is in some way productive and could be relaxing. This would need to be something quite so when I sit done with my husband for a movie or watch him play a video game I could potentially do. Preferably something small and easily portable, so possible for the occasional long car drives. Something I can learn mainly on my own and most especially something that would be fairly inexpensive to start doing. Actually making something would be beneficial as then I won’t feel it’s a waste of time. I know this limits a lot but I’m looking for any suggestion that you might be able to provide and I trust you are full of ideas and much more creative than I.


Reformation Day

I’ve finally decided to start a blog. I have two excuses. 1. People wanting me to keep them updated on how my gluten-free diet is working out and 2. I just want to write stuff down about my life and have not successfully started a journal, maybe this will help with that. So this will serve both purposes and possibly even prove to be a fun hobby.

Halloween evening is upon us and the trick or treaters are as cute as ever. I believe they are done for the night as it’s been a few hours since we’ve had any knocks on the door. Reformation day at church this morning was nice, I especially enjoyed joining the congregation in singing A Mighty Fortress with the help of a full praise band.

This week has been quite interesting. I have been attempting to go gluten-free since Wednesday night, I am committing to the diet for one month to see if I feel better. I haven’t been feeling good on and off for several months now and after talking to some other women I was encouraged to attempt this dramatic change in diet. Although I did not initially realize just how drastic a change this would be. I struggled trying to find meals for the first couple of nights when I opened my cabinets in the evening and seemingly everything had Gluten in it. I have mainly been watching for wheat and slowly trying to learn what else contains gluten.

Friday night  I finally decided to quite torturing myself so much and I grabbed a couple empty boxes and started pulling all of the gluten containing products out of my cabinets. Thankfully my husband is very supportive of this endeavor and has agreed to go gluten free in the meals at home also, so I am not attempting to make us separate meals. Which means the boxes have been moved into the spare bedroom out of site (and hopefully soon out of mind) and  I can attempt new meals and new ways to make some of our favorites.

The rice cooker has been a life saver so far, this was a lucky find at the co-op some time back and I absolutely love it. I am also quite thankful to have a couple friends who are already gluten free so I can get lots of suggestions and recipe ideas from them.
My discoveries and experiments of Gluten free food so far has been limited, but expanding. For people with food allergies who have troubles finding places to eat in Fort Wayne, I recommend trying Flat Top Grill, they have lists of options for people with different allergies, including gluten-free! Between the company and the food is was a very enjoyable meal.

For dinner I was able to make Pasta with the help of Quinoa Rotini noodles, not much of a taste difference from regular noodles. If I wouldn’t have known better I never would have guessed they were gluten free. I also picked up some Betty Crocker gluten-free brownie mix when I went shopping yesterday and baked that up for dessert tonight, I was impressed! Certainly more expensive than regular brownie mix but just as enjoyable, this is probably one of my favorite finds so far.

I have also picked up some Pamela’s gluten free baking and pancake mix, which I am told can be used as a cup for cup substitute in recipes for regular flour, so I’m looking forward to trying this soon, I had already picked up some Bisquick  gluten free pancake mix so I’m thinking I’ll make up a small batch of both one evening this week and do a taste comparison for future information.

As of yet I’m not sure if the new diet is helping me feel better or not. I woke up easier this morning than usual and outside of a 15min catnap this afternoon I think this is the most energetic I have felt in a long time, a very nice feeling, one that I hope will last, but to early to get my hopes up about the diet yet, we’ll see how the next week or so goes. However, I’ve also had a harder time sleeping through the night the last few nights, with troubles getting to sleep (even when extremely tired) and then waking up a minimum of 2-3 times in the middle of the night for seemingly no reason.

Overall, I’ve discovered that knowing I can’t eat certain foods makes me want to eat them even more, even with things I don’t have on a regular basis. If anyone attempts this diet I strongly suggest one of the first things you do is remove the food you cannot eat from your cabinets, I found simply having to see it every time I opened my cabinet (which was usually when I was already hungry) was just tortuous when I knew I shouldn’t eat it. No longer having them in my cabinet is helpful and encourages me to attempt to find gluten-free options for otherwise normal food. Also, the other change in my diet is that we’ve switched from Soy Milk (My husband is lactose intolerant) to Rice Milk. If the gluten-free diet doesn’t work I think my next attempt will be to cut out soy, my only hesitation in doing this is that most chocolates seem to contain soy and I’ve noticed a lot of other food does too. The gluten-free diet will be increasing my grocery bill significantly enough that I will be waiting to attempt anything else. Now to get ready for the start of the week! Only 2 weeks left of the quarter.