Thursday, February 13, 2014

Living Gluten Free: Cookbooks, Restaurants, & Resources

Now that I covered the basics of my gluten free life and what's in my pantry...I figured it's only appropriate to share where I find all my delicious recipes and where we go when we feel like a night on the town : )

First off let's start with cookbooks and my other recipe sources.


  • Against All Grain: My current favorite cookbook. Although it is based on the Paleo diet which I don't follow, it does have some of the most amazing grain free, dairy free recipes I've tried so far
  • Eat Clean Diet Cookbook: Fabulous clean eating ideas using non-processed foods. Though this is based on a specific diet concept, I use the book mostly for the recipes
  • Plenty: A gorgeous coffee table book with amazing veggie recipes. Nearly everything is gluten free in this book and while I am certainly no vegetarian, it offers super tasty ideas for side dishes or main course meals
  • Wheat Belly Cookbook: This has fabulous gluten free and low glycemic recipe ideas including pizza crusts, breads, etc. It's a nice book to look to if you're trying to step away from buying the pre-packaged gluten free products
  • Make Ahead Paleo: I actually don't even have this cookbook yet but I have heard rave reviews and it's next on my list to buy : )

  • 100 Days of Real Food: This was the blog that initially got me thinking more about giving up processed food. Though this family doesn't restrict gluten or dairy, there are a lot of really great ideas on incorporating real foods into your diets. It's very non-pretentious and, well, real!
  • Against All Grain: Same woman that wrote my currently favorite cookbook, this blog offers amazing paleo recipes...which of course means being gluten and dairy free
  • Deliciously Ella: I just recently came across this blog thanks to my friend Katie, and I'm pretty sure I have already pinned every recipe on her website!
  • Gluten Free Girl and the Chef: This is the blog that first made me realize I might have an issue with gluten. When I read her 'About Me' section, I cried. I felt very similarly and it confirmed that I was not alone. I don't refer to her website as much for recipes, but there are some great ones on there!
I know there are thousands of blogs out there with tons of fabulous recipes but those are my main go-to sites. I also use Pinterest a lot. So feel free to check out my Whole Food Recipes board and my Gluten Free board. I also have several gluten free recipes on this blog, granted many are from several years ago when I used more processed food...they are still great recipes!

  • In Defense of Food: This is the book that made me question all of the processed food I was eating. It's a very important and informative book and I would highly recommend it.
  • Women, Food, and God: A great guide to open you up to mindful eating. I would not consider myself a religious person...more of a spiritual person so don't let the God part freak you out if that's not how you's really more about connecting with your higher power, whatever that is for you.
  • Wheat Belly: Though I don't necessarily agree with every idea in this book, it is another great look at what wheat can do to do the body, and what high glycemic foods in general are doing to your body. It made me rethink how I was incorporating certain carbs into my day. I started noticing a crash with cravings after certain foods. Since changing things around, I rarely have those peaks and valleys anymore.
And last but not least...restaurants! I have to say, since I started to listen to my body more, I find I feel the best when we cook at home. There is really no way to know what kind of oil your food is being cooked in and whether or not they are using butter or frying something in oil shared with gluten products. I used to just say screw it and go out and eat what "should" be gluten free like fries and certain salad dressings...but I quickly learned that the feeling I get after eating those things is not worth it at all. There are a few restaurants we've eaten at where we've had good luck so far. If it's a independent, non-chain restaurant and you order a salad with simple olive oil dressing or the meat with veggies and potatoes, it generally seems to be safe. I always ask about gluten free options when I get there and most places have special menus too.

Restaurants: (around the Twin Cities, MN)
  • Chipotle: I would die without this staple. If I am out running errands or don't have time to cook, the burrito bowl is my savior. I usually order brown rice, fajita veggies, double chicken, corn salsa, and double guacamole. This will last me at least 2 meals with the extra chicken and guac...and it's damn tasty!
  • French Meadow: Great gluten free menu items! Thanks Megan for finally getting my booty there! (Mpls)
  • Ecopolitan: Everything is raw, organic, vegan, and gluten free. They have amazing juices and dessert...I can't wait to go back and try more! (Mpls)
  • Namaste Cafe: Great Indian/Nepalese food with many gluten free options...thanks to Katie for this recommendation and also Ecopolitan (Mpls)
  • PF Changs and Cheesecake Factory: Both chains but both have great gluten free menus (Edina)
  • Good Earth: Great cafe with great gluten free options (Roseville)
  • Dolittle's Woodfire Grill: I'm a sucker for rotisserie chicken...and this place has a gluten free menu as well (Eagan)
  • San Pedro Cafe: Worth the drive to Hudson! Amazing Caribbean food, jerk chicken, mango name it! Most of the menu is gluten free : ) (Hudson, WI)
  • Cafe Levain: Cute little place in south Minneapolis, great food and many gluten free options. We went there with friends a few weeks ago and the chef made me a small plate of cornmeal crusted onion rings since he knew I was gluten was so sweet and they were tasty as heck! (Mpls)
  • Dominos, Pizza Luce, and Davanni's for gluten free pizza. I have also heard great things about Pizzeria Lola and Punch's gluten free crust but haven't been to those places yet.
  • Supatra: Amazing thai food with tons of gluten free dang good! (St. Paul)
  • Brasa: So good! Most everything is gluten free! (St. Paul & Mpls)
  • Happy Gnome: Great patio atmosphere, cider beer, and a gluten free menu! (St. Paul)
  • Moto-i: Great food, another great patio, and a gluten free menu : ) (Mpls)
  • Pei Wei: Good option for chinese food to go, good gluten free menu (Woodbury & more)
  • Buon Giorno: Best salad bar ever. (Mendota Heights)
This is just a small selection of restaurants but it's a great place to start. Here is another resource for other twin cities area restaurants. I will be sure and share other great places to eat as I discover them!   : )

Hope this post was helpful! As always, let me know what questions you have! 

Living Gluten Free: Getting Started

Several people have contacted me or approached me after my recent blog post about what I eat and how to start a gluten free lifestyle.

I figured it was easiest to share a few tips on the blog so those people can refer back to it if need be : )

First off I would just like to say that going gluten free is not for everyone. It is not a cure all and it is not a magical weight loss solution.

For me, it was a means to improve certain ailments I was suffering from. For me stiff joints, digestive issues, and headaches were all things that were eliminated by cutting out gluten. Some other unexpected benefits have been clearer vision, clearer mind, less moodiness, and fewer cravings for carbs/sugar. So with that being said, it has been more than worth it for me and if you feel like you may benefit from this lifestyle change I say go for it!

If you think there is a possibility you may have celiac disease, please get tested by your doctor before eliminating anything from your diet. You want to be eating it when you get tested for it for the results to be accurate.

I do not have celiac disease and have been tested twice. The first few times I attempted to go gluten free (2 years ago), the negative test result gave me permission (in my mind) to slowly start eating gluten again. And even though I felt ok at first, it didn't take long for the old symptoms to return and for more problems to be added.

In June of 2013, I finally started listening to my body. I was having pretty severe joint pain and headaches and I knew that wasn't normal. I noticed that after just a week of eliminating gluten, all my pain was gone. I found this shocking, scary, and awesome all at the same time. This time around, eliminating gluten was not about losing weight and being disciplined enough to avoid bread but rather it was about improving my overall health and eliminating some pretty scary symptoms.

I have to be honest, it's not an easy road at first. Depending on the amount of carbs/gluten you currently eat, chances are good that you'll have some pretty serious cravings for bread products initially. This will go away after a week or two, I promise. You just have to get through will pass! It is easy in the beginning to miss all those delicious bready items you once indulged in regularly. I have found that focusing on all the wonderful things I can still eat has been key for me. If I get caught up on feeling bad that I can't eat Papa John's pizza dough anymore or a burger with a bun, it would send me into a negative spiral. I have been there before when I tried eating gluten free previously and it is not helpful at all. There are so many healthy, delicious, and incredibly filling things you can still eat and if you focus on those you will soon forget about those things you used to love. Eventually, after you've been eating gluten free for a few months, you'll find if you get a bite of something you used to indulge in, you'll be surprised that it doesn't really taste all that great after's just what you were used to and comfortable with.

I also have cut out most processed foods. I will occasionally eat tortilla chips, pre-made pizza crusts etc. but for the most part I try to avoid anything processed and eat whole foods. In the beginning of this journey, I was all about the gluten free packaged products and that was a great way to wean myself off eating foods you are used to in a gluten free form. Eventually you can try eliminating the pre-packaged stuff when you're ready but be kind to's a lot to learn and change!

You'll notice in my pantry items and sample menu that I don't include dairy. I have cut almost all dairy out of my diet as well because I have found I don't feel great when I eat that either. I will occasionally eat cheese but usually at the cost of feeling pretty yucky afterwards.

So let's get are my staple pantry items. I am a big fan of Trader Joe's so you'll see a lot of items listed from there. It's reasonable and wonderful and it's my main grocery store. I also get a few favorites from Super Target, Amazon, Kowalski's, and Tailor Made Nutrition.

Grocery Items

Trader Joe's:

  • Greens (spinach, lettuce, etc.)
  • Fruits (apples, pineapple, bananas, etc.)
  • Peppers/Onions
  • Avocados
  • Herbs (especially cilantro)
  • Ginger
  • Potatoes
  • Organic, Free Range Eggs
  • Meats (Organic, Free Range Chicken breasts/thighs, grass fed beef, pork, etc.)
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Brown Rice and Quinoa Pasta
  • Tri-color quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Arrabiatta Sauce
  • Organic Olive Oil
  • Organic Maple Syrup
  • Canned Coconut Milk
  • Spices (any and long as they are gluten free)
  • Frozen Fruit (I love the organic pineapple, mango, strawberry, and banana combo back)
  • Fresh orange juice and carrot juice
  • Fresh pico de gallo ('s not too spicy I promise!)
  • Hummus
  • Gluten Free Oats
  • Chia Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Tortilla Chips (occasionally)
Super Target:
  • Applegate Naturals Chicken Apple Breakfast Sausage (amazingly delicious)
  • Applegate Naturals deli turkey 
  • Mini sweet peppers (amazing with hummus, guacamole, and with eggs)
  • Simply Balanced Frozen Organic Veggies (best price on organic frozen veggies: broccoli, corn, etc.)
  • Gluten Free Baking Mixes (for a special treat and if you aren't up for making gluten free goodies from scratch just yet...King Arthur's Flour is a great brand)
  • Organic Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • Free range rotisserie chicken (a great go-to for a quick meal, salad, etc.)
  • Organic fresh veggies for juicing or eating
  • True Dough frozen pizza crust (locally made and the best tasting pre-made dough I've can also make your own!)
  • Other gluten free options...they have a great selection!
  • Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil (I never thought I'd like coconut oil but I go through it by the tub now and only use olive oil on cold/room temperature price I've found by far!)
  • Nutiva Hemp Protein Powder
  • Amazing Grass Wheatgrass products (great addition to any smoothie...great natural energy)
  • Coconut Flour
  • Garbanzo Bean Flour
  • Almond Flour
  • Ground Flax (All flour is Bob's Redmill)
  • Coconut Aminos or Liquid Aminos (good soy sauce alternative)
  • Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

A local honey distributer that we get all our honey from. We no longer bake or cook with refined sugar. Honey and maple syrup are a great substitute! We love the raw wildflower honey, the vanilla spoon honey, and the hot honey which is good with chicken : )

This is a fabulous store in Woodbury that is an all gluten free grocery store. It is a great place to go when you are first starting out on your gluten free journey. They do sell a lot of processed gluten free foods so I don't shop there too often but it's a great starting point!

An all gluten free bakery in Eagan. They have tasty cookies, cakes, pancake mixes, and take and bake pizzas! I have only tried the pancake mix and the cookies but they were both amazing!! (Monster Cookie...holy balls!)

Hopefully the list above can help you to make your grocery list. You certainly don't need to go to all those stores to get your shopping done but it's what works for me. On a regular week I will always go to Trader Joe's and Super Target and only occasionally go to Kowalski's. 

Here is a typical menu for my day as well. I plan to post some other helpful cooking tips, recipes for smoothies, and more but I will start with the menu : )

  • Two Eggs Fried in Coconut Oil with sauteed spinach, peppers, and onions (I also add turmeric, crushed red pepper and whatever other spices strike my fancy)
  • 3-4 Applegate Chicken Sausages
  • Tea or Coffee and Water
  • Smoothie (it's always green...either from wheatgrass or spinach...but it's delicious, I also always add chia and flax seeds)
  • Salad with veggies, chicken, avocado (dressing is olive oil with sea salt and crushed red pepper or olive oil and apple cider vinegar mixed)
  • Fruit (if i'm hungry enough)
  • Meat
  • Veggies
  • Quinoa, Rice, or Quinoa/Brown Rice Pasta
Sometimes I eat more and sometimes I eat really depends on how I feel. I do not count calories I just listen to my body and ask myself if I am truly hungry. I eat slowly and stop before I am full. Sometimes we eat a small salad for dinner if that's what we want...sometimes we eat a plate of's all about listening to what we want and need at that time. If I overeat or eat something I am not proud of I move on and do better next time. No need for shame! (And if I can have this attitude anyone can...I used to be the queen of shame and falling of the wagon after one bad meal)

I also try to have snacks on hand like power balls, granola, fresh fruit, hummus etc. in case I am hungry but not for a full on meal.

 I also do not fear fat. I use a ton of coconut oil and incorporate all sorts of healthy fats into my diet (like avocados and nuts)...and I truly feel that it helps me stay full longer and has helped me lose more weight than I would have otherwise. 

So those are the basics of my gluten free life. I am proud to say that I never feel deprived, disappointed in my dietary "limitations", or like I am on a diet. I eat tons of incredibly tasty food. It is possible to live a healthy and wholesome life even if you grew up eating only macaroni and cheese and hot dogs as a kid and mozzarella sticks through your teenage years (and early twenties who I am I kidding?)...that was me! 

I am more than happy to answer any other questions you may have but I wanted to have a good starting point. I hope you found this helpful!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chipotle Burgers with Honey Caramelized Onions (Gluten and Dairy Free)

When I was over at my friend Dana's house a month or so ago, she told me she still refers to my old blog posts for recipes she makes. This made me feel so good and it encouraged me to start posting recipes again. Though the recipes you will find now will be gluten free and often dairy free as well...I promise they are still delicious! You can always doctor them up with whatever you want too!

In an effort to change up our same old hamburger recipes (tacos and meatloaf primarily) I decided to try to concoct a burger that tasted so delicious it didn't need a bun.

I was the gal that never thought she would eat a burger without a bun...but turns out if it's juicy and flavorful enough it doesn't need one!

I made this last week and I already want to make it again. Hope you enjoy it!

Chipotle Burgers with Honey Caramelized Onions

 Burger Ingredients:

-1 lb grass fed beef
- 6 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce
-2 chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
-1/4 cup chopped green onions
-1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1/4 cup finely chopped green and red bell peppers
-2 garlic cloves chopped
-1 tsp crushed red pepper

1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl (add an egg to help hold ingredients together if desired)
2) Form into patties with a burger former or by hand
3) Cook til reaches desired temperature
4) Add onions (listed below), and if you want cheese add some organic grass fed cheddar or your cheese of choice and enjoy!!

Honey Caramelized Onions

-2 large sweet onions, chopped 
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
-sprinkle of sea salt
-1 tsp raw local honey

1) Melt coconut oil in fry pan, add sea salt to cut coconut flavor
2) Cook onions til soft and starting to brown on edges
3) Add honey
4) Cook until onions appear light brown
5) Add to burger and enjoy!

And of course don't forget...find a good, new gluten free cider to enjoy with the burger!!

The Famous Pistachio Granola

I made some granola recently that has been quite the hit.

I keep promising to share the recipe so here it is!

I got it from a mom of a patient I took care of. It's amazingly delicious. I saw her the other day and told her how popular the recipe has been and she said..."it's your recipe now...spread the love!".

And spread it I shall!

Fabulous Pistachio Granola

3 Cups Rolled Oats (Trader Joe's sells a great gluten free bag of oats)
1.5 Cups Shelled Pistachios
1 Cup Mixed Nuts
1 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes, chopped (again, Trader Joe's)
3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Kosher Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Cardamom

1) Mix all ingredients in large bowl
2) Spread on baking sheet
3) Bake at 300 degrees stirring every 15 minutes for a total of 45 minutes
4) Stir on pan and let cool

*if you like fruit in your granola, dried cherries are a great addition...add them after baking the granola  : )

 5) Let cool, break into chunks and enjoy!