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jan 21 2 014

 

What makes them ooey-gooey?  The chocolate chips!  That’s right, baby.  Nestle chocolate chips are gluten-free.  Milk them for all they’re worth, I say!

There is quite an abundance of gf brownie recipes online so this afternoon I picked one and set the stand mixer to twirlin’.  I did make a couple of minor modifications so I’m gonna give you my modified recipe because well, they turned out rather splendidly.

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The recipe calls for 2 cups of vegetable oil. 

“Nay,” said I.  “That is too much oil.”

Enter: natural applesauce. 

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You’ll see my modified oil:applesauce ratio in the recipe.

Xanthan gum may as well be powdered diamonds.  It costs fifteen bucks for about a cup.  Thankfully, you typically only use a teaspoon or two in any one recipe.

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“What IS xanthan gum?” you ask.  It’s a natural thickening agent derived from corn.  If you’re eating gluten-free, you NEED xanthan gum

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See the ooey-gooeyness?  Oh yes, yes you do!

These brownies are somewhat dense and delightfully cakey.  They’re not really healthy, so to speak, so as with any baked treat you shouldn’t chow down on them with reckless abandon.  The one and a half I just ate suited me quite nicely.

They passed the Small-Blondie Taste Test, too.

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Success!

Let me know if you try them.  🙂

OOEY GOOEY GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES

4 eggs

1 c sucanat

1 c sugar

1/2 c vegetable oil

3/4 c natural applesauce

2/3 c cocoa powder

2 c gluten-free flour mix

1 tsp xanthan gum

2 tsp gluten-free vanilla

3/4 c chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Grease 9×13 pan.
  • Beat eggs until thick.  Add sugar and mix well.
  • In small bowl, mix together oil, applesauce and cocoa powder.  Add to egg mixture and mix well.
  • Add flour, xanthan gum and vanilla.  Mix well to combine all ingredients.
  • Spread batter evenly in pan.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Enjoy, and thank you from the bottom of my gluten-free heart for reading!

 

A New Approach to Food

 

Seriously, why did I not just do this long before now? 

I guess I wasn’t willing to give up my favorite cereals, breads, pastas and baked goodies.  It’s not like I hadn’t considered it.  When it came down to it, the thought of living without these delicious foods was very unappealing.  Seemed impossible, really.

The last eight days have been incredibly eye-opening. 

I’ve been reading Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book, The G-Free Diet:  A Gluten-Free Survival Guide.  Elisabeth has celiac disease and talks about how ridiculously underdiagnosed the disease is, as is gluten intolerance as a whole.  This needs to change. 

When doctors performed a panel of stomach tests on me over ten years ago and declared the results to be “perfectly normal” for each and every one, they finally diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Yep, good ol’ IBS – the be-all, end-all, “we have no idea what’s wrong with you” diagnosis. 

This excerpt from Hasselbeck’s book speaks volumes:

What’s behind these terribly low diagnostic rates?  “One of the reasons celiac disease is so grossly underdiagnosed in this country,” says Dr. Green, “is that the pharmaceutical industry has such a major role in the direction of health care here.  In many countries around the world, where there are national health plans , doctors are actively encouraged to diagnose celiac disease.  In this country, the pharmaceutical industry provides eighty percent of the money for medical research.  It also provides a lot of money for postgraduate education, and there just aren’t any drug companies that are interested in researching celiac disease [and gluten intolerance].  There’s basically no money in it – no drug company will provide funds for the research.”

Simply put: Since there are no drugs to treat celiac disease, pharmaceutical companies stand to gain no profits from encouraging its diagnosis.

“It’s a general problem in our culture,” Dr. Weil said of these lopsided priorities, “and I think it’s both that people don’t have the information and motivation to take responsibility for their wellbeing, and that the system is economically locked into paying for interventions with drugs, not for lifestyle counseling.  The whole system is dysfunctional.  It’s all one big knot, and I don’t know where you begin to push. In general, we’re so locked into using pharmaceuticals to treat everything that when we come across conditions that we can’t treat with drugs, we tend to pay less attention to them.”

So what are we to do? 

If you suffer from abdominal pain and discomfort that comes and goes – and is sometimes so bad that it has you lying on your bed in the fetal position clutching your abdomen – and you suspect gluten might be the cause, make an appointment with your doctor and show up to his office armed with information.  Be clear that you think it could be gluten intolerance.  If you’re concerned about celiac disease, make sure you tell your doctor you want a blood test and maybe even an intestinal biopsy.  Above all, don’t let him shove it under the rug. Gluten intolerance sucks and NEEDS to be taken seriously

And, for Pete’s sake, don’t do what I did and put off going on a gluten-free diet for years and years!  TRY IT.  Like, starting NOW!

I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of it but – there are many, many foods that contain gluten that you never would have thought contained gluten!  Read up on it.  Make sure that you let NO gluten cross your lips.  None.  Nada.  Zilcho.  This is the only way your body will tell let you know if, indeed, it cannot handle gluten. 

There is so much more information online and in books written on the topic.  If you have persistent, unexplainable stomach pain please do some reading.  There is much to know.  And there is hope.

Now let’s get practical.

A visit to Trader Joe’s and a wonderful independent health food store today proved encouraging.  When you discover that gluten does terrible things to your body, you begin to change your entire perception of food – and your trips to the grocery store change a whole lot, too.

Some of the things I bought today:

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And a LOAD of produce.  Naturally gluten-free food in all its delicious glory!

 

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When you endure years of bewildering, debilitating, extremely frustrating digestive problems and then you finally feel so, so very much better, you want to help others who may be going through the same thing. 

I hope this blog will do just that.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading!

 

Coffee Cake:  (n) A cake or sweet bread usually served with coffee.

 

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I am a believer. 

As of today I officially believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is possible to bake gluten free goodies that taste every bit as good as the original version. 

A few days ago we baked sugar cutout cookies.  I couldn’t have one.

Last night the hubby requested wild berry muffins.  I couldn’t have one.

If you know me at all, you know that I adore baked goods

Today, I said, “Enough.”  And I baked something I could eat.

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This coffeecake was warm, cinnamon-y, cakey bliss.  I had two pieces.  My taste buds and my belly are so very smiley.

 

GLUTEN FREE CINNAMON STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE

Streusel Topping:

1/3 c gluten free baking mix (I used Bisquick)

1/2 c packed brown sugar

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 c cold butter

Coffee Cake:

1-3/4 c gluten free baking mix

3 Tbs sucanat or granulated sugar

2/3 c milk or water

1-1/2 tsp gluten free vanilla

3 eggs

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Spray 9-inch round or square pan with nonstick spray. 
  • In small bowl, mix baking mix, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Using pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly; set aside.
  • In medium bowl, stir all coffee cake ingredients until blended.  Spread in pan; sprinkle with topping.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories 380; Total Fat 11g (Saturated Fat 6g); Sodium 570mg; Total Carbohydrate 62g; Protein 6g

Have a sweet day and thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading!

 

A Crust of Bread

 

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
– Robert Browning (1812-1889) English poet

 

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Warm, crusty bread.  One of life’s simplest, most satisfying foods. 

But what is a gluten intolerant girl supposed to do when bread is full of the stuff that makes her writhe in pain? 

 

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Why, she calls on Bob, of course.

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It has risen!  It has risen, indeed!

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After only ten minutes of baking, it has risen A LOT!

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The scent: heavenly.

The texture: perfect.

The crust: deliciously brown.

The gluten intolerant girl: blissfully, breadfully happy.

 

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Liss and Simon made sugar cookies (cuz in the words of the esteemed Kenny Rogers, “it’s Christmas every day”). 

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Have you ever had a cutout cookie break in half and then tried not to pop one of the halves in your mouth? 

It’s difficult. 

Like, use-one-hand-to-pry-the-other-hand-away-from-your-mouth difficult. 

This is gonna be a challenge.  A lifelong challenge.  And I accept, fully and completely.  I am ALL IN.

Because so far I am

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Hopefully I’ll have plenty of beautiful, gluten-free food to dish about soon. 

Thanks for reading!

 

….ain’t nothin’ right in the world.

ibs

Sounds cheesy, but it’s so true.

It’s also the reason I haven’t blogged in days. 

For the past month or so, my lower abdomen has been giving me a LOT of trouble.  Pain, cramping, and discomfort so severe it has me feeling nauseous and almost entirely incapable of doing anything besides laying on my back. 

Stomach pain is not foreign to me.  About ten years ago I was diagnosed with IBS and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder).  Paxil and regular meetings with a God-sent Christian counselor gradually transformed me back into the person I knew was in there somewhere.  Regular exercise worked wonders, as well.  (To this day, that is one of the main reasons I work out very consistently: I’ve experienced firsthand the healing and restorative power of exercise.)

To this day I am still on a maintenance dose of Paxil, and for the most part the IBS and anxiety have been under control.  Praise God!

However, since roughly mid-December my belly has been giving me grief again.  I honestly can’t think of anything more debilitating than stomach pain.  When it hits, I am useless.  I am out of commission. I can’t read.  I can’t cook.  I can’t crochet.  I can’t blog.  I can barely even talk.  It gets that bad. 

So where am I at right now? 

I am on day two of eliminating gluten from my diet entirely. 

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And I am feeling significantly better already.

Could going gluten-free be helping that quickly?  I don’t know.  But my gut says “probably.”

I have suspected gluten intolerance on and off for awhile now.  Several months ago I greatly decreased my gluten intake but until now, have never cut it out one hundred percent.  Just three days ago I also began taking daily multivitamins that include a powerful probiotic.  I am quite confident that this will help, as well. 

So here it is, 3:00 in the afternoon, and I have felt great since the moment I woke up this morning.  (Yes, there is wood nearby and yes, I am knocking on it.)  Is it a fluke?  Or is it a direct result of eating NO gluten for the last day and a half?  I don’t know yet. 

Two things I do know:

  • Not even the teensiest-tiniest bit of gluten will cross my lips ever again if my belly continues feeling as calm and relieved as it does right now.
  • This blog may just evolve into a gluten-free eating blog. 

If the pain comes back I will be seeking help from a gastroenterologist.

There are so many people who are plagued by miserable, agonizing stomach pain.  The reason can be difficult to diagnose.  For some, the reason is gluten intolerance.  Maybe I’m one of those people, maybe I’m not. 

I just wanted to update my dear readers on why my blogging has been so sporadic lately.  Thank you sooooooooooooo much to those of you who have been keeping my aching belly in your prayers – continued prayers would be so so much appreciated.  And if you or someone you know has stomach issues or gluten intolerance, send them my way and maybe we could continue exploring this together.

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For more information on gluten intolerance click —-> HERE.

Your comments are most welcome.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading!

BBQ Meatloaf and Cornbread

 

All of it CLEEEEEAN as a whistle!

 

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There is just something about meatloaf.  Some consider it a comfort food.  It’s one of my favorite things to make for dinner because it’s SO easy and very satisfying.  Makes the kitchen smell divine, too. 

Tonight I adapted a meatball recipe from a new cookbook, The Best of Clean Eating to make a loaf. 

 

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It turned out absolutely fabulous.  I hope you’ll try it!

 

CLEAN BBQ TURKEY MEATLOAF

Pure olive oil spray (I use a Misto spray can, above)

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 lbs extra-lean ground turkey

1/4 c basil

1/4 c marjoram or oregano

3/4 c whole-grain breadcrumbs

2 Tbs tomato paste

1 egg

3/4 tsp sea salt

3/4 tsp ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400 and spray loaf pan with olive oil spray.
  • In large bowl, gently combine all ingredients.
  • Press meat mixture into loaf pan.
  • Bake until inner temperature of loaf is 175 degrees (40-50 minutes).

Just about any type of bread makes a wonderful accompaniment to meatloaf, but I almost always make fresh, warm cornbread for a side dish.  Up until recently, I made “cornbread souffle” – a recipe that calls for boxed corn bread mix, a buttload of butter, and a can of creamed corn.  Lemme tell ya, the stuff melted in your mouth.  Now, however, that recipe may be used on special occasions, if at all. 

My new recipe calls for organic, stone ground cornmeal.  DO NOT BE AFRAID.  Bob’s Red Mill makes a wonderful cornmeal that I found at my regular grocery store.  There are other great brands out there.  You simply need to look.

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I give you my new, delicious cornbread recipe!  If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, go buy one tomorrow.  🙂

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CLEAN SKILLET CORNBREAD

1-1/2 c organic cornmeal (preferably stone ground)

1-2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1-1/2 c buttermilk

olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  • Add egg and buttermilk to dry ingredients and mix together to combine.  If batter seems dry add more buttermilk.
  • Lightly mist a skillet with olive oil and place in oven for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Carefully remove skillet from oven and pour batter into it.  Return skillet to oven and bake until top is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Before I go I need to let you know that when I post recipes, I encourage you to find the most natural/organic form of the ingredients that you can.  They go a long way, and they are absolutely necessary for healthy, clean eating.  Doooooo iiiiiiiit!

Much love and I’ll see you soon.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

Eating Out or Pigging Out?

 

You’re at a restaurant skimming the menu, trying to decide what to order.  There are so many yummy-sounding options: a bacon cheeseburger with fries, alfredo pasta, loaded mashed potatoes… Nevermind the massive portions most places serve.

I used to order whatever the heck I wanted.  Fat content, calorie content and carb content did not even cross my “gimme a great big plate of indulgent food” mind. 

Not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong.  Once in awhile when I’m out to eat, I splurge.  (Take yesterday, for instance.  Three yeast rolls smothered in honey-cinnamon butter made their way into my belly with the rest of my large meal!) 

As a general rule, however, I try to keep my wits about me when choosing a meal at a restaurant. 

Today my girl and I went to the Whistle Stop Cafe for lunch.

 

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I was hungry.  My eyes skimmed over the mushroom swiss burger and fries more times than I could count on one hand.  (Not even kidding: I sent the waitress away three times before I finally ordered!)

Ended up with a veggie wrap, a side of fresh fruit and – yes – a small serving of mashed taters. 

 

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Next time you find yourself perusing a restaurant menu, take a nice deep breath and remind yourself that eating out does NOT have to mean pigging out

Your heart and your belly – and probably even your next workout – will thank you. 

Show Meeee the Buttahhhh!

 

Sometimes when you’re jonesing for a specific kind of food, you drive forty-five minutes to make that food happen.

 

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As today is the last day of hubby’s two-weeks off of work and the end of Alyssa’s Christmas break, Texas Roadhouse was our “one last hurrah” this afternoon. 

The honey-cinnamon butter (all melty-amazing on warm yeast rolls) was more than worth the longish journey to Kenosha. 

On the way home, we stopped at the Pleasant Prairie outlet mall. 

 

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Look what we found!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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The best scent on the planet that is technically “discontinued” so I thought I’d never see it again as long as I live but we walked into the Yankee Candle outlet store and THERE THEY WERE!  Loads and loads of them!  We bought three!  Judging from how quickly I burned through five of these puppies last time (four weeks) I might be making another trip north very soon.

Have you seen this magazine?

 

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Wanna check it out?  What a perfect way to kick off the new year – with loads of delicious, healthy recipe ideas!  You will be blown away by how easy and cost effective it is to eat clean. 

I would love to send this most recent issue to one of my dear blog readers.  Just comment on this post with your answer to these questions:

What is your greatest health goal for 2011?  What are some specific things you’re going to do to reach that goal?

Monday evening I will randomly select the reader who will receive this fantabulous magazine!

It’s time to make the weekly grocery list.  Thanks for reading!

When you toss root vegetables with sweet dried cherries and sprinkle on some butter, sugar and cinnamon – well, you can’t really go wrong. 

 

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SWEET ROASTED ROOT VEGGIES AND CHERRIES

olive oil spray

6-8 c cubed root veggies of choice (I used sweet potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips and turnips)

1-1/2 c dried cherries

1/3 c Earth Balance, melted

1/3 c sucanat

2 Tbs pure ground cinnamon

  • Coat roasting pan with olive oil spray.
  • In roasting pan, toss veggies and cherries.
  • Pour melted Earth Balance over top of veggie mixture.  Sprinkle on sucanat and toss again to combine. 
  • Sprinkle cinnamon over top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours, stirring after first 45 minutes.

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When I roast veggies like this again, I will probably use sweet potatoes, butternut squash and regular potatoes – because, unfortunately, the three of us aren’t crazy about parsnips and turnips.  That’s the beauty of this recipe: You can use whatever root veggies you and your family love!  The dried cherries provide a lovely little burst of tartness with each bite.

This makes a wonderful side dish for just about any entree.  Tonight we had it with lemon-garlic grilled chicken breasts.  Deeeelicious!

Enjoy!

 

New Year, New Blog

I love blogging. 

So much.

And I love healthy food.

So much.

 

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That’s why I’ve been brainstorming ways to make my blog different.  Maybe better.  But very definitely different. 

As I sit relaxing in my cozy home, preparing to usher in a brand new sparkly year, I am filled with excitement and optimism… because I’m officially introducing you to my fresh, redesigned blog that has one purpose and one purpose only:  to make it possible for you and I to be our healthiest best

As you may have noticed, I also changed the name.  Welcome to Sassy Cafe!

Did you know that 80% of your body composition will be determined by your diet?   Yes, exercise is also important to health and to speed up fat-burning and muscle-building, but most of your results will come from how you eat.

With this hugely important statistic in mind, I strive to test, create and share recipes on my blog that will hopefully inspire and help YOU to be your healthiest best.

I am passionate about clean eating.

If you haven’t heard this term before, let me offer you a brief explanation:

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Eating Clean is treating your body right.

It is eating the way nature intended. You eat the foods our bodies evolved to function best on, and that makes you feel – and look – fantastic. When you Eat Clean you eat more often. You will eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. These practices keep your blood-sugar levels stable and keep you satisfied. The best part is that if you need to lose weight it will happen almost without you having to try. And yes, you can have a treat now and again.  Best of all, Eating Clean keeps you feeling great and full of energy. In fact, you can forget all about the days when “dieting” meant feelings of hunger, lethargy or deprivation.  Eating Clean is not a fad; it’s a way of life. When you Eat Clean your body will react by losing weight if you need to lose, maintaining a healthy weight if that’s where you are, and even gaining weight if you are too skinny. But regardless of whether you want to lose, maintain or gain, you will feel better than you ever have before."

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….I’ve been eating this way (well, mostly!) for a few months now and let me just say – EVERYBODY needs to eat this way.  Trust me on that.

I hope to share new, delicious recipes with you here every 2-3 days so please come back often.  Some of the ingredients might look a bit strange to you at first, but you will soon discover that using these wonderful clean-eating ingredients in your kitchen is MORE than worth it.  You and your family deserve the purest, most natural ingredients in the foods that you put into your bodies.

Remember:  Clean eating is not a fad diet.  It is a lifestyle.  All the more reason to ditch the processed junk in your kitchen and replace it with real food.

There will be special posts once in awhile that may not be food-related at all, and I will talk about my workouts here and there.  But mostly, I’ll be sharing amazing healthy recipes (and plenty of photos, of course!).  I hope you’ll give some of them a try and let me know what you think. 

Here’s to a very happy, very healthy new year!  Cheers! *clink*

 

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