Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Beer Me!

I cut out beer from my diet long before I realized that I was intolerant to gluten. No, it wasn’t to lose weight (although I did) but because I was having such a weird reaction to it. When I drank beer I would swell. And the swelling continued to get worse over the years.

Let’s step back to high school. Yes, I know, shocking that I indulged as a minor but I feel that to really give you the history I need to be honest. My mother would bust me the night after I drank beer because my face would swell up like a balloon. A natural reaction to beer right? I thought so. Then college came around. And yes duh, we drank beer. And my face swelled. And my tummy. I thought that was just typical from drinking beer a lot. Freshman Fifteen anyone? But I ate a healthy diet, worked out 6 days a week, and seemed to be holding a lot of bumbling bloat that I couldn't beat.

About junior year I met my husband and things REALLY took a turn. Not only was I swollen feeling/looking but also my hangovers were horrendous! I would get very sick, even if I just had a couple beers. One morning I woke up and I couldn’t even bend my fingers all the way because they were so swollen. It was time to figure out what the heck was really going on with my body.

After I talked to a friend of ours about my situation he said that I was probably allergic to it. Maybe the hops? Or the histamines? He had many friends with the same problem. His advice was to cut it out for a week or two. See how you feel.

So I did.

And I felt better. I really didn’t miss it all that much either. I could tell my body was thankful because I noticed my health improving as well as my body. I dropped all the swollen weight I had been carrying around. Things were good for a bit. Well, the whole other food side hit soon after but this is the fairy tale beer story so I am going to give you a happy ending.

I had cut out beer for a few years when I found out that I was intolerant. I heard that there was gluten free beer but I didn’t really have an interest at first. I had lost the taste for it. But, like I said, I wanted to be the guinea pig so I gave a few a go. Here are some of the ones I tried and what I thought about them:

RedBridge- Anheuser-Busch, Inc., the company that produces Budweiser, Michelob, Busch, Bass, Beck’s, Kirin, Stella Artois, Rolling Rock and a ton of other alcoholic drinks, has come out with a full-bodied gluten free beer called Redbridge. It has a very light, clear amber color with a smooth texture and a floral, sweet aroma.
This is my favorite! My husband even said he liked it better than the beer HE was drinking! That’s a huge compliment in my book because this man knows his beer. Some what of a beer snob if you will.

Bard’s Sorghum Beer- The Original Sorghum Malt Beer, sometimes known as Dragon’s Gold Lager, is an American Lager with low bitterness and a floral aroma, containing sorgum, yeast, hops, and water (no wheat, oats, rye, or barley).
This is actually the first beer I tried and I liked it! It’s a bit heavier in my opinion to the RedBridge but has a good flavor.

Daura Pilsner Lager- This beer is brewed by the Estrella Damm brewery in Barcelona. Estrella Daura is a 5.4% mainstream pilsner lager with a universal flavor and character. It is fruity and floral on the nose with a hint of sweet spices.
Hmmmm, not my favorite to be honest. I have never been a huge pilsner fan myself though so don’t let my review discourage you to try it!

These are the only three I have tried thus far. Writing about them gives me an idea for a beer tasting though!

Any takers?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Food For Thought

The other day I received an email from Rudi’s Organic Gluten Free Bakery

“Dear Heidi:

I see that you blog about gluten-free food options, and I wanted to reach out to you on behalf of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery. I hope you have already heard of our gluten-free breads! If not, I’d love to introduce you to them.

Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery was launched by Boulder, Colo.-based Rudi’s Organic Bakery. Rudi’s leveraged its more than 30-year heritage of making better, brighter breads to create a line of gluten-free products that look, taste and feel like regular bread, and that contain only the highest quality, wholesome, all-natural ingredients. Rudi’s Gluten-Free breads are certified gluten-free and carry the Gluten-Free Certification Organization’s (GFCO) recognizable GF symbol.

As a gluten-free blogger, we would like to send you a package complete with bread samples and Rudi’s gear.”

I was thrilled! I was going to get to try new bread and share the experience and my personal review with YOU dear readers. I have written about quite a few different gluten free breads so I was anxious to take a bite into something new. I had seen their products at Whole Foods but not anything from their gluten free line.

The package arrived about a week later.

I was anxious to see what goodies lay inside!

Special Gluten Free Delivery!

Opening the box...are you feeling the anxiousness that I felt?!

See now that was worth the wait wasn't it? They sent me their gluten free multigrain bread to try as well as a little sandwich holder. I was a bit smitten with it all.
(Yes, I realize it's just bread but it's the thought!)

Anyhoo, I immediately took out a piece and dug in. Plain. Nothing to hide or mask any flavors. And I have to tell you, it didn't need anything on top. It was rich, fluffy, buttery... If I may be so bold, the best gluten free bread I have ever had. Honestly. I haven't had non gluten free bread in a while though so I wanted to make sure that my judgement wasn't clouded. I gave out some pieces around the office without telling them that it was gluten free and everyone LOVED it! I couldn't wait to bring it home to my husband and son. Surprisingly my son, who is not gluten free, usually prefers my bread. What can I say, the boy has taste!

Shortly after, I received another email from their marketing manager informing me about their mission with the bakery and what they strive to do with their campaign. I was captivated and was immediately eager to share the news. She informed me that soon I would be receiving a special package from them announcing a program we just launched to support the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).

Here is some food for thought from Rudi’s Organic Gluten Free Bakery:

“As you may know, there are an estimated 3 million people in the U.S. suffering from celiac disease, yet only 160,000 are diagnosed. We’re pleased to announce that Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery is working with NFCA to support education for the diagnosis of celiac disease, with our new Spread the Bread charitable program, which launched in late December.

For every dollar coupon downloaded, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery will give a dollar to the NFCA, up to $20,000, to help in its efforts to better educate physicians in the diagnosis of celiac disease. Coupons are available on the Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery website and Facebook page.

We are also proud to announce the launch of our new Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery website. We hope this new website will provide all the detail you could need about our new gluten-free breads – from product ingredients and nutrition facts to local availability – as well as helpful information about local gluten-free events, a variety of gluten-free recipes, links to our partners and educational resources, including NFCA, the Gluten Intolerance Group, Celiac Sprue Association and Celiac Disease Foundation.

In addition to the website, we’ve also launched a new blog, Baked on the Bright Side, where we’ll be providing all of the latest news on Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery and the gluten-free community. We’re eager to hear what you think of the blog and website!”

Gluten Free or not, you should try this bread! And hey, it's a buck off and you'll be contributing to a good cause. It's a new year and a great way to start off with some new good deeds.

Oh and in case you haven't guessed, recipes with this bread are soon to follow this post!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wanna Samana?

Samana : Responsible for the digestion of food and cell metabolism (ie. the repair and manufacture of new cells and growth). Samana also includes the heat regulating processes of the body. Auras are projections of this current.

I have been visiting Tracy at her Brookside Restaurant, Café Samana, for months now. In fact, if given the option, I would probably visit her restaurant almost everyday. There is something very special about Tracy, her restaurant and her food. Her cuisine and the atmosphere, like her, is warm, comforting, and inviting. I often think of her as a little food fairy sprinkling magic into the sumptuous meals on her daily menu, which changes with the season. Organic, gluten free, local, healthy, vegan, vegetarian…whatever label you want to stick on it, Samana’s food romances your taste buds and soothes your soul. The restaurant is nestled in a quaint space on brookside, but you feel as though you are dining in a European cafe. Eclectic second hand pottery presents the daily meals on the tables adorned with floral and paisley cloths. Local artists are displayed on the walls, and the natural light from the big front windows and door pools in creating an ethereal, homegrown feel. If that's not reason enough to visit, I'll add that the staff is the most helpful in town. I tend to be specific and picky in my orders sometimes and they are always willing to accomodate me. To the Samana staff, I thank you for your amazing service and patience!

I perpetually devour a restuarant's menu. Meaning I have to read every darn thing on the menu which ironically causes me to most often end up ordering the same thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s my first time or millionth; I graze and dissect until my order optimizes exactly what I am desiring.

Sounds exhausting huh?

So imagine what happens when I have a menu in front of me that entices all my senses to order one of each because NOTHING is restricting my decisions. A menu that caters to the gluten free. A menu that is packed full of fresh seasonal vegetables dolled up in spices. OOO man, shall we have lunch together at Samana and I can show you? It would quite the scene I assure you.

Anyhoo, of the MANY visits I can share with you, I suppose there is no visit like the present! My sister and I dined at Samana for lunch today and of course Tracy and her staff did not disappoint me. Tracy immediately informed me that the special of the day could be made gluten free. Ah, no menu perusing for me as my decision was made. Okay, I admit, I still looked it over. But I did order the special! Surprisingly, I do change up my order there and believe me you can NOT go wrong. I could go on describing the meal but they say a picture is worth a thousand words and well, I have a few!
Acorn Squash & Apple Soup

Black Bean Burger with Tomato, Greens, & Garlic Mayo. On a gluten free bagel of course!

Someone asked me the other day about where I eat in town when we go out. I said that I can find something to order off a menu most anywhere which of course I probably can. Who knows if I would truly enjoy it but I could cope. But, if I HAD to choose only ONE local eatery to dive into for lunch only ONE place immediately hits the brain…Café Samana.

Address 3807-F S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK, Brookside
Phone (918) 742-3559
Mon - Thurs: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Fri: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sat: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

Monday, January 17, 2011

New No Bake Memory

There is always that cookie that reminds you of your Yiayia’s (grandmother’s) house. That cookie that sparks so many memories. Whether you made it with just her, or with your mum, or your cousins, or occasionally if you were feeling nice, your little sister. Have it in your head? Are the sweet smells swarming around you as you read these words?

THAT cookie for me would be No Bake Oatmeal Cookies.

I remember the smells and sounds of her kitchen while we prepped and prepared these sweet little gems. We would anxiously circle my Yiayia while she stirred the peanut butter and chocolate, her always grabbing the oats at just the right time. We would anxiously grab our spoons and clump the mixture onto wax paper, our breaths growing quicker as we tried and get the cookies on before they cooled in the pot. After the stressful task of dolloping we would enjoy the bits of batter that stuck to our spoons. Then we waited. I cannot say patiently because inevitably one of us would end up with chocolate dipped fingertips from ‘testing’ to see if they had dried. Anyone who has made these know that you can visually tell when they have dried on the wax paper but we pretended that we didn’t of course.

Unfortunately my friends, when I have made these mementos outside of my Yiayia’s kitchen it’s just not the same. Maybe the memories that were created in her kitchen are so closely attached to that recipe that nothing can really compare. All the more reason to create something just as memorable though right? And lucky for me, one of the blogs I follow posted a no bake vegan almond butter chew recipe for me to try. Only 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of my time. Which was perfect timing for me because my son had a sleepover and I had to sate their sweet tooth cravings STAT. Trust me, if two hyper first graders demand sugar, you provide sugar. Unless you have a death wish.

I varied from “oh she glows” blog’s recipe slightly in ingredients but obviously our directions our the same.

Here is the link to her recipe:

No Bake Vegan Almond Butter Chews

•1/4 cup chunky all-natural almond butter
•1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
•1 cup rice crisp cereal – I used Nature Path’s Organic Koala Crisp
•3 tbsp organic brown rice syrup
•2 tbs chopped bittersweet organic chocolate – I found a small container in the produce section of whole foods that was delicious!

Line a plate with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the almond butter,

brown rice syrup, and vanilla. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir well and immediately add in the rice crisp cereal and chocolate. Stir until all the cereal is well coated.
Wet your hands thoroughly and shape the mixture into ‘golf-balls’. Press mixture together firmly so it will hold. Wet hands after each ball is formed so the mixture will not stick to your hands. Trust me you need to do this or you will make a sticky mess. Plus it makes it so much easier to form the cookies.

Place the balls onto parchment paper and freeze for 10 minutes. You can keep these chews in the freezer in a sealed container. I really enjoy them straight from the freezer. They remain nice and chewy.
Her blog Makes 7 golf-ball sized chews. I somehow managed 10-12 chews but I tend to not exactly measure my ingredients. Guilty… but I ended up with more chews so we aren’t complaining!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

No E-I-E-I-Oatmeal

I love breakfast food. I honestly cannot recall a time recently when I have skipped this very important meal. It jumpstarts my metabolism and keeps me satisfied until my mid morning snack. It’s such a versatile meal too. I feel like the list of possibilities can go on and on. So which do I want to share with you today? Cereal, toast, eggs cooked countless ways, cold pizza, French toast, pancakes, waffles, casseroles, oatmeal…WAIT STOP! Oatmeal. That’s the one I was looking for. And not just any kind of oatmeal. Vegan Blueberry Oatmeal.

Hey...did I lose you there? Have you stopped reading because I threw out the V word? Don’t disregard this tasty meal because it doesn’t contain anything produced by an animal. I eat those meals too so I am not preaching to that aspect,

but I can honestly vouch that this oatmeal tastes BETTER! Soy Milk, rolled oats, organic brown sugar, fresh sweet blueberries, ground cinnamon…Ok, are you back with me now?

It’s been absolutely freezing here in Tulsa the last week or so and I am NOT a cold weather gal. I begin to shiver when the temperature dips below 65. The only time I’ll stand and enjoy the cold is when I am in the mountains, preferably skiing.

That said, a bowl of cereal and cold milk ain’t cutting it in the morning my friends. I need something warm, filling, satisfying and healthy. And something that I can prepare and eat pretty quickly since it is after all a work morning.

This oatmeal is simple. And simply wonderful. Enjoy.

Vegan Oatmeal with Blueberries

• 1 cup rolled oats, or Quaker old fashioned oats
• 1 ½ cups Soy Milk ( I used light)
• Dash of kosher salt
• 1 tbs ground cinnamon
• 1 tbs organic brown sugar
• ½ cup -1 cup blueberries

Heat the soy milk in a sauce pan with a dash of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Add the oats and Stir. Reduce heat to medium and stir frequently for about 7-9 minutes for Quaker old fashioned oats or until most of the liquid is absorbed. I like mine thicker so I let it cook down a bit. Add cinnamon and brown sugar and stir.

Remove from heat and add blueberries. Place in bowls and serve!
This makes 2 big bowls for the hubby and me!

Monday, January 10, 2011

One Love, One Heart, One Gluten Free Pizza

Gluten Free pizza seems to be popping out of many restaurant ovens these days and I am lovin’ it! I have sampled Joe Mommas Pizza in the past and was pleased. I have tried Gina & Giuseppe’s pizza and it was quite delicious. But my friends, alas there is only ONE LOVE, ONE HEART, and ONE GLUTEN FREE PIZZA that truly tickles all the right pizza taste buds. A pizzeria that offers both Chicago style pizza AND gluten free pizza. A pizzeria where them belly full but we [AIN’T] hungry no more. A pizzeria where I don’t envy the deep dish pizza on my husband’s plate because mine is just as doughy and delicious. A place where I can get together and feel alright about eating gluten free at a restaurant. Enough hints? Well alright…

My no gluten, no cry pizza stop that satisfies my pizza cravings. So long cracker thin crust and hello again deep dish! Well, about as deep as gluten free goes.

I accidentally stumbled into this gluten free glorious revelation when my husband suggested we meet my parents there for dinner. I have been eating vegan/vegetarian anyway so I figured I would order a salad with some veggies and be on with my life. Pizzerias are never really my first choice when choosing dinner because I have to endure the wafting smells of oven baked goodness while I munch on lettuce. Don’t get me wrong, I love salads, but not necessarily in this setting. I went online and checked out the menu and saw that they offered gluten free. Wait, WHAT? Wow…You had me at local pizzeria. Add the clever name, setting, location (close to my house!) AND gluten free…Can someone pinch me please?

I have been back three times now, and it gets better every time. Especially yesterday.

I ordered a spinach, artichoke, and mushroom pizza and was blown away. Thick crust held a layer of savory and sweet marinara sauce.

Veggies were piled on with abandon. Then a gooey, stringy, melty (yes melty) mozzarella coated the top. AHHHHH. I be jammin’ with this place as much as possible.

The restaurant itself is a fun lovin' place to be. Surrounded by walls in an organized chaos of concert posters and the greatest musicians, TVs that blare the latest sports games, and the promise of live musical acts to come soon can't get any better in my opinion.

Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no pain”. I agree. And I adopt my own quote inspired by both him and my new pizzeria love. “One good thing about Marley’s g-free pizza, when it hits-you feel no pain.”
Marley’s Pizzeria
6104 E 71st Street
Tulsa, OK 74136

Thursday, January 6, 2011

SOya long Meat!

I have been on my veggie kick for a little over a week now and I am so excited to share a couple recipes that I have picked up. After doing a lot of research on vegetarian and vegan diets, I decided that it’s something I want to slowly adopt. I have tried the 30 day vegetarian challenge before and I craved meat like crazy! But this time is different. Want to know why? (start nodding your head because you know I am going to tell you anyway)I am cutting out the deprivation thoughts. That’s it! That’s my secret to living a healthy and happy lifestyle.

I was inspired by a blog my friend sent me recently (thank you to Laura Law) called “Oh She Glows”. I highly recommend you go and check it out, Angela's view on life and diet was truly inspiring and I decided that is what was wrong with my past diet trials. I openly went into my gluten free diet because I had to cut out gluten. It wasn’t a choice. But going vegetarian/vegan IS a choice. A choice that I can choose to carry out. If I want a piece of chicken for dinner, by golly I am going to have it! But to tell you the truth, in carrying on this perspective, I haven’t wanted it. Me, a turkey, chicken, occasional medium-rare steak lover DOES NOT want it. No cravings because there are no restrictions.

It’s been only a little over a week but I still want to give myself a pat on the back because I know this adopted way of living will bring me to what I want…you remember my resolution right? A Happy & Healthy Lifestyle.

Okay, dinner time. My temptation to try vegan options quickly turned into a Tempehtation when I was exploring whole foods vegan section. I love tofu and have cooked with it often but have never tried tempeh. Nothing against, just haven’t grabbed it. Like they say, don’t knock it till you try it! And try it you should! I am talking to you dear readers-meat lover or not.

So what exactly IS Tempeh?

“Tempeh originated from Indonesia, where it is still an important food. Tempeh is cake of soybeans, which have been de-hulled, cooked, mixed with a tempeh starter (culture of Rhizopus oligosporusor Rhizopus oryzae) and incubated for a day or two.

The white mycelium of the Rhizopus mold keeps the soybeans together to form a solid cake, which you can easily sliced.
In Indonesia, tempeh is traditionally made from soybeans only, but in Western countries you can find tempeh made from other ingredients, such as vegetables, grains or other beans. Since tempeh is made from whole soybeans, it is a fiber rich food. Tempeh is a rich source of proteins, minerals, soy isoflavones and saponins. It is also a generous source of nutrients such as calcium, B-vitamins and iron. IN addition, tempeh is a good source of monosatuarated fats and contains no cholesterol. The natural tempeh fermentation process also makes the soya more digestible. Tempeh has grown so much in popularity that it is now available in the refrigerated section of many supermarkets. Of course, you can also find it in health food stores oriental shops.”

Informative lesson over let’s talk food. I sampled two different marinated tempeh flavors from whole foods. I was meant to try it I decided because the packages were on sale 2/$6! Ah I love it when fate leads me to scrumptious adventures.
So hear are two recipes we tried out the last two nights. One using coconut curry tempeh

, the other lemon pepper tempeh.

Delicious, nutritious and delightfully easy to make! Let’s face it, most of us work late and we need a meal in under 20 minutes when we get home that isn’t delivered in a greasy box or plucked from the pantry in a can. Both these meals are well under 20 minutes. Take that Rachel Ray! My husband and I were delightfully full and content. Meat was not missed I assure you.

Coconut Curry Tempeh with Brown Rice Vegetable Medley

•1 pkg coconut curry marinated tempeh
•1 package Uncle Bens Instant Brown Rice
•2 cups organic frozen vegetables (lima beans, carrots, peas, green beans)
•2-3 tbs EVOO

I used a short cut and bought the instant uncle bens brown rice that comes measured out in 2 cup servings that boil on the stovetop quickly. Drain well and set aside.

Steam vegetable medley, drain well, and mix into rice. Divide onto two plates.

Heat EVOO in a pan until hot. Place tempeh into the pan and brown all sides, about 2 minutes each side. Place over rice & vegetable medley and enjoy!

Lemon Pepper Tempeh with Leafy Greens & Brown Rice

•1 pkg Lemon Pepper Tempeh
•2 cups 365 organic Leafy Greens mix (kale, collard greens, spinach)
•1 pkg uncle bens instant brown rice
•2-3 tbs EVOO

Steam your leafy green mix on the stove top. Drain well.
Cook your Rice and mix, drain well and mix with leafy greens. Divide onto two plates.
Heat EVOO in a pan until hot. Place tempeh into the pan and brown all sides, about 2 minutes each side. Place browned strips over rice and greens. Enjoy!