Saturday, July 31, 2010


Growing up, I loved making pizza. Take an English muffin, some spaghetti sauce and sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese and nuke it in the microwave or put it in the oven for a few minutes! Easy! As an adult, I still fell into that habit for making my own pizzas instead of buying a frozen one. I recently discovered pre-made pizza dough that was dairy free in the bread section of stores. I loved the more grown-up version of pizzas. I have two stand-by lactose-free pizzas: sun dried tomatoes, basil & goat cheese, and a Hawaiian - pineapple, ham, & goat cheese. Finding pizza dough that is gluten and lactose free is pretty easy. I have a bunch of different mixes and already made doughs that are ready for taste testing! On Thursday, my Pampered Chef pizza stone and basting brush arrived so I was anxious to break those in. Since I have never mixed my own pizza dough, I cannot say how gf dough compares to traditional dough. From a traditional bread making perspective, it is really similar.

For my first ever gf pizza, I used Hodgson Mill's pizza crust mix. It is billed as "Light Crispy Delightful". My "gently spread the dough to fit the pan" skills are a little rough (the box makes two 12" crusts) so my dough was a little uneven and an inch or two smaller than recommended. After mixing the dough and letting it rise on the pizza stone, you cook the pizza dough for a several minutes and then take it out of the oven and brush oil on it before adding the toppings and cooking it for several more minutes. For the sauce, I used can tomato sauce mixed with basil and a little oregano. I added cooked ham, canned pineapple, and crumbled up goat cheese on top. Delicious! Since my pizza was smaller than recommended and I cooked it for the minimum time, it was very soft - just the way I like it! Hands down, it was the best pizza dough I have ever had! It was fully cooked, but still had a light doughy texture. Needless to say, this was a great start to my pizza adventures! I was concerned that I would need to keep some traditional pizza dough at home for when I'm cooking for friends (covering my pan with tinfoil for an easy clean-up, of course) but this is a dough that I can make for friends without any food allergies and they will never know the difference!

Birthday Brownies!

For my first gf and second lactose-free birthday, I asked my boss to make me rice krispie treats (without the brand name version since those contain malt flavoring which is on the "no" list.) I figured they were easy enough to bake in a gluten-filled kitchen since the cereal substitution would be easy. (See my Cookie Fail post to see why gf baking scares me.)

So imagine my wonderful surprise when I had brownies! With frosting!!! My boss made me the Chocolate Truffle Brownie Mix from Gluten Free Pantry and boy was it delicious! As is true for most (wheat) flourless desserts, these brownies were really rich! In a testament to their tastiness, my coworkers gobbled up the whole pan before lunch! (Sometimes, you need a brownie to start your morning off right!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mom's Sweet Corn

On the bus ride home today, I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I was going to make for dinner since I did not feel like cooking.

Um...I have a bunch of meatloaf and meatballs in the fridge! The dishes aren't even all done from that, but I forgot all about last night's cooking. To be honest, the meatloaf wasn't that memorable. Compared to a lot of the foods I have been having lately, the meatloaf is too bland and uninspired. It is filling, but where were my improving knife skills besides in the tiny pieces of onion?
So tonight I warmed up some meatloaf and made corn the way my mom taught me. Her steps are:
Add some lemon juice and sugar to the water.

That's it? I can handle that. For those of you who do not regularly cook corn, you may be looking for further instructions from that. (I know I was when I started cooking! Every fresh ingredient I bought was quickly google searched for whether or not it goes in the refrigerator and what the preferred cooking method was.) The way I cook corn is I put a large pot with water on the stove, add about a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice to the water. Turn the stove on. Husk the corn. Place corn in water. Remove from water when done. Turn off stove. Sprinkle with season salt. Eat.

I made this before for someone from Indiana who swore that she knew corn. And it was the best she ever had, she said. (Or she was being REALLY nice.) It is an easy way to make something sweet even sweeter! Plus corn is in season! And super cheap! Yay!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Three Pounds of Ground Beef

Back while I was juggling a day and one or two theatre productions, I decided I was not going to go the fast food route. I needed good food to give me enough energy to work 14-hour days. So I spent my precious few hours cooking large quantities of meat and freezing individual portions. One of my favorite things to do was cook three pounds of ground beef (bought in a log of in the freezer section.) I would turn to my Betty Crocker cookbook (the one my mom insisted was the best cookbook I will ever have) and create two recipes that lay on facing pages: meatballs and meatloaf. Without any pressure to cook enough meals to last me for a few weeks, I decided to cook old school.

The Italian in me loves to eat pasta with meatballs. The oh-dear-god-I-need-real-food-to-eat in me loves how easily they freeze. I literally have two freezer bags stuffed with cooked meat already portioned into smaller individual bags. I would cook pasta at midnight while creating rehearsal reports and would a bag of meat to the refrigerator to defrost for my lunch or dinner. How easy! The recipe is so simple and rather plain. I need to spend some time figuring out how to make a meatball that is truly bursting with flavor. The biggest substitutions to make a meatball gluten and lactose free are the bread crumbs and the milk. Everything else should naturally be "safe." The milk is super easy - I used some more of the rice milk I opened for my not-my-dinner chocolate shake last night. I have had good luck with rice, soy, and traditional milk in these meatballs. For the bread crumbs, I used bread from my first gf bread purchase. The bread had a hard and horrible texture, was so dry, and I could barely eat a slice. Per the instructions, it went into the freezer right away to stay "fresh." I was not going to throw away a five dollar loaf of bread! So I followed the bread's instructions and defrosted some pieces wrapped in tin foil in my oven. Once defrosted and warmed, I broke the bread into pieces and made bread crumbs in my blender! I made over a pound of meatballs. Some are smaller that will one day find a home in soup. Others are your more traditional spaghetti-and-meatball size.

Growing up, I never understood why some kids hated meatloaf. After all, it is simply a hamburger you eat without a bun. In our family, our hamburgers and meatloaf had the same fillers so they always tasted delicious. One of the greatest reasons to cook meatballs and meatloaf at the same time is to minimize on dishes and ingredients! Chop a larger onion, throw another piece of bread in the blender, reuse that teaspoon! Throw it in a bread pan and start doing some dishes! Meatloaf is one of the easiest things to make and everyone seems to have their own twist for the ingredients as well as what sauce (and how much!) goes on top. Mine is still the traditional Betty Crocker version and needs to be spiced up a bit. (P.S. I don't like how my meatloaf matches so well with my counter top!)

Here's what I learned tonight:

I need a new toaster. I am not going to put any gf bread in there. I don't think I can ever get it clean enough to feel comfortable using it. It will be my only true "replacement" purchase.

When cooking meatballs to have a spaghetti dinner, I need to remember to start cooking the gf pasta right away since it takes around 25 minutes to make. Not 5.

I need to create my own meatball recipe.

I need to figure out if I can tolerate oats (the jury is still out on whether oatmeal is gf or not - there seems to be a split right down the middle) so I can use that as a binding agent rather than making breadcrumbs.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chocolate "Milk" Shake

If my mom asks, this was NOT my dinner tonight... *shifty eyes*

A year and a half ago, I was drinking milk shakes a few times a week because my stomach hurt so much and I was not hungry. They were easy ways to get much needed calories, but my stomach still hurt. I was stuck in this vicious cycle until a friend suggested that I was lactose intolerant. I insisted I wasn't - I drink milk all the time. How could it make me sick? I did some Internet research and looked into lactose intolerant testing. I did the milk challenge that week (as found here: and obviously became really sick. I slowly weaned dairy out of my diet. At first, I could still have low levels of milk, such as if milk was one of the last three ingredients in packaged food. I was eating butter for the next few months still, but by November, I was completely dairy free. My health then started plummeting (due to the gluten-intolerance flaring up) so I never had time to figure out what foods I was missing that I could easily create in my own kitchen.
When Eliot ordered a shake at the Chicago Diner, it really brought to the forefront that this was something I could make myself but just wasn't. I LOVE milk shakes. So what was preventing me from having one that was lactose-free? Nothing, honestly. Tonight I had my first milk shake since March 2009. And it was infinitely better than any dairy-filled milk shake I would have made!

I used So Delicious chocolate velvet ice cream, Jif peanut butter, Rice Dream classic rice drink, a banana and homemade chocolate sauce (cocoa, sugar, water, and vanilla extract.) One of the foods I miss most as someone who is lactose-intolerant is peanut butter cups. So with some peanut butter and chocolate, I should be able to replicate some of those flavors in the shake. Since cooking with food allergies requires you to think outside the box, what was preventing me from drinking my shake from my fanciest wine glass? Nothing! I'm really happy with how thick and chocolaty my shake was, but I was even more thrilled with my creative plating! I poured some chocolate sauce down the inside of the glass before adding the shake! What a delicious dinner! (Er, Mom, don't read that last sentence. Thanks.) This was a great way to cap off a summer weekend!



While at Trader Joe's, they had quinoa featured on a display at the end of an aisle. It was labeled as gluten-free so I decided to buy it (a good reason, I know.) The food was featured in some of my gf books, but it never jumped out at me as a staple for my pantry.

Apparently this is my quinoa weekend! I bought it on Friday night and then had it as part of my Chicago Diner dinner. I'm currently watching "The Next Food Network Star" and one of the contestants made a dish with quinoa, which is a protein. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is quite good! Find more on this food here:

For a late lunch, I made Garlic Chicken Stir Fry with Quinoa, Peppers and Basil (recipe courtesy of the Quinoa box). I have noticed a marked improvement in my knife skills! I was able to get the peppers and onion really thinly sliced. Having more confidence (and breaking out my new knife) seems to be the key. (Okay, and watching Eliot show me how to properly cut a pepper helps a lot, too...) Preparing the quinoa was interesting. You have to rinse and drain it first. I have never had to do that before. Thankfully, my strainer was JUST small enough to let me rinse the quinoa without loosing any. When draining, the quinoa felt like wet sand. After cooked, it was fluffy and a really welcome alternative to rice or pasta. The rest of the recipe was easy since I have become a pro at cooking chicken and vegetables. This was a really easy dish to create and a very healthy lunch. I plan on cooking with quinoa more in the future.
Does anyone have good quinoa recipes?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

I just finished re-reading Bette Hagman's "Living Well Without Wheat: The Gluten-Free Gourmet." The first time I read gf books, I was so hungry to learn everything that I could, I was merely skimming the surface without absorbing anything. So the re-read was much slower and deliberate. Her popover recipe washed away my fears of cooking bread. A few of her bread recipes call for powdered milk, or non-dairy powder for those of us who are lactose intolerant. I have not been able to find this in stores and have not been able to bring myself to buy baby formula as a substitute yet. (I know this day will be coming soon, but I only need a small amount in my baking so cannot justify such a bulky and expensive purchase. Why do none of my good in the city friends have babies whose food I can steal?!?) So I decided to do a cookie recipe instead. I wanted to do something simple before I graduate to more complicated multi-flour recipes, so I went with her Peanut Butter Drops. Three ingredients: eggs, peanut butter, sugar. Here are the reasons why I love these cookies so much:

1) They look like cookies!
2) They taste like cookies!
3) Peanut butter is so good for you! This past week, a number of people have been suggesting that I just eat a jar of peanut butter to help me gain weight.
4) They were so easy to make!
5) I'm willing to share these cookies with friends without being embarrassed!
6) I can be creative.

Once the cookies came out of the oven, I wish that I had a sugar mixture to sprinkle on top. One of my favorite cookie recipes when I was little was Honey Bee Cookies and I have fond memories of sprinkling some sugar mixture on top of them within seconds of my mom pulling the tray out of the oven. (Perhaps brown and white sugar? Or white sugar with cinnamon?) Or even chocolate chips! Since I know have a successful "base" recipe, I feel like I can make them again and again with modifications. And with only two eggs in the recipe, it is super easy to halve the recipe for test batches. As the recipe stands, the cookies are so moist and delicious. The peanut butter (obviously) has such a large presence. These cookies are much better than just having a jar of peanut butter with a spoon!

Friday Night Dining

I had two really amazing restaurant experiences last night with my friend Eliot. Since we were still downtown after a long day of work and were browsing at a nearby store, I suggested Ed Debevic's, since Eliot has never been there. It is one of those Chicago traditions - you need to eat deep dish pizza, eat a Chicago-style hot dog, visit Navy Pier, go to Millennium Park and take a silly picture with the Bean and you need to go to Ed Debevic's. My suburban US History AP class went there for lunch during our field trip while I was in high school and I took my younger sister there (after taking a few silly pictures with the Bean, of course!). Since it was 7:00 on a Friday night, the restaurant was packed with lots of families and tourists. We went to the hostess station and asked about the wait time and what gluten and lactose free options there were. Without missing a beat, she said I could have the salad (I bit my tongue - I don't eat salad (yet)) or hamburger. I asked if they had a dedicated french fry fryer and she said they fry things like mozzarella sticks in there as well. We looked over the menu and decided we will go somewhere else and thanked her for her help. I knew exactly what I was going to be able to order without a long wait! Major props to the hostess!!! Even though we did not eat there and spent less than two minutes in the restaurant, it was really positive for me. I'm learning how to effectively and efficiently ask for what I need upfront!

So Eliot and I headed north on the Brown line to Belmont while we thought about some good dining options on more familiar turf. Then it dawned on us: The Chicago Diner. I knew it was a vegetarian restaurant and they seemed to be better than most about awareness of food allergies and sensitivities. When we looked at their menu, I was excited to see that dishes could either be vegetarian or vegan (vegan cheese!!! dairy-free!!!) and that they had gluten-free options. When reading their menu, I could not find anything that jumped out to me as gf. When our waitress first came to ask about drinks, I asked what they had that was gf. She came back with a gf menu! Yay! I had a few really good options and ultimately chose their Avocado Tostadas. It was so easy for me to order there. I am always a fan of menus that spell out what I CAN have, rather than seeing everything and knowing my options are small. When my food arrived, it was even announced as "Gluten Free Avocado Tostadas." My meal was super delicious and everything was very fresh. It was plated beautifully. I took a picture (please forgive the camera phone picture). Here's a sampling of the gf menu (note: some things were different from what I had when dining there, their menu changes.) Overall, I had an absolutely fantastic experience with The Chicago Diner and will probably turn into a repeat customer.

One of the downsides to dining out gf is that I can't sample other people's foods - Eliot's Reuben sandwich with sweet potato fries looked absolutely delicious and we decided to add the fries on our "things we should cook" mental list. He also ordered a peanut butter, chocolate and espresso shake. (This was one of those too-good-for-words drinks.) A good dairy-free "milk" shake is still on my list of things I should make since I haven't had any chocolate shake since February 2009 and those were my favorites. Thank you, restaurant, for inspiring me! Now I just need to dust off the blender on top of my fridge!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Warm Pasta Salad

After a visit to the downtown Farmer's Market during my lunch hour, I was much more inspired for tonight's dinner. Since I'm trying new things, one of the best places to challenge myself with fresh foods is at the market. Today's new ingredients were cherry tomatoes. I only have had them a handful of times ever and I have never cooked with them. Since I still had pasta in mind, I decided to do a colorful warm pasta salad.

Here's how I did it:

Cook your favorite pasta. (Hint: adding a pinch or two of kosher salt in the water before you start cooking to make your pasta even MORE delicious!)

Meanwhile, boil water in another pot. Cut green beans into 1-2" pieces. Add to boiling water and cook until they are done to your liking.

Thinly slice an onion. Add to a large pan (with about 1T of your favorite olive oil) and cook the onion. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half. Chop a few leaves of fresh basil. When the onion is done cooking, add some cooked chicken. Add about a cup of extra virgin olive oil (read your labels carefully!!!) and stir over low heat. Add your cooked green beans, cherry tomatoes, and basil and stir. Add some goat cheese on top. Eat!

This was really, really good. There is such an exciting combination of flavor and texture to this meal, in addition knowing just how healthy something like this is: pasta, veggies, poultry, and (lactose free) cheese! I'm excited to have this for lunch tomorrow as well! I really like making pasta salad in this style, I just don't like all the dishes it can generate because my kitchen lacks a dishwasher...

Spaghetti Dinner

Last night, I had a rather uninspired dinner. I had two rolls left over, so decided to make some pasta to go with it. The first time I bought gf pasta, I had one brand choice: Tinkyada. The advertising made me upset when I read it: good consistent texture, not mushy. If spaghetti needs to advertise this, clearly gf cooking is radically different. Are other pastas mushy? So far, I've only eaten this pasta, even though I bought a few other brands that were on sale recently. (If it is $2 rather than $3 or 4 - I'll buy it! It can be quite challenging!) I really like Tinkyada's pasta. It is a little softer than traditional pasta, but tastes like you cooked it for 9 minutes rather than the recommended 8.

Speaking of uninspired - I opened a jar of Prego Traditional tomato sauce (which happens to be gf based on my reading of their ingredient list) and poured it over the pasta. Garnish with a little fresh parsley (I had an herb garden in my window, that's why you may have noticed the consistent use of parsley) and add the final two rolls and that's it! Easy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thai Dinner

This whole "dine out once a week" may be easier than I thought... I caught up with a friend over a very last minute dinner on Sunday night (in an "I'll leave my place in two minutes" style.) I mentioned that I was gluten and lactose free so he said that I should pick. I chose one of my neighborhood favorites - Ben's Noodles and Rice on Bryn Mawr. When it came time to order, I told the waitress that I was allergic to gluten (in most soy sauces) and lactose. I asked if one of my standard dish would be safe to eat. She said that it was made with soy sauce and instead offered their curry on the next page, which did not have soy sauce, but did have coconut milk, if that was okay. I never had curry before, but I was up for the new experience. It was really good - a little too spicy for my tastes though. The waitress was really great and came back to make sure that I liked my food and was feeling well.

Overall experience: very positive.

Bread update: I finished the last of Bread Attempt #1 today. The bread stayed fresh and soft in a plastic container on my counter. Yay!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bread Attempt #1

After my Betty Crocker disappointment, I knew I needed to start even simpler with baking. Originally, I thought all of the gf advice for baking was for people that did not know how to bake period when it really was for the people who knew how to bake with gluten who need to learn baking all over again. I was very excited when I saw the number of recipes in Bette Hagman's Living Well Without Wheat: The Gluten-Free Gourmet - Revised Edition. I used this book when I was stocking up on flours, thanks to her helpful descriptions. My first bread recipe came from her book exclusively because of its introduction:

Easy to make and impressive. This better is very forgiving and always turns out.

Sign me up! Her ingredients for "Popovers" are simple - water, shortening, potato starch flour, rice flour, salt and eggs. The batter was really fast to make. And guess what - they looked like bread. I may or may not have had four of them straight out of the oven... (Translation: they were just that good!) The popovers had a delicious texture and were just the slightest soft and gooey on the inside. I would never have known that these were gf. Success! I have a bread recipe! This alone is reason enough for me to add her book permanently on my bookshelf rather than just as a borrowed library book. We'll let the pictures speak a thousand words here:


At the farmer's market on Thursday, I bought some leeks. Why? They looked good? I don't know. It was more of an impulse buy. I could not even tell you a recipe that included leeks at the time, let alone I have never eaten one. My cousin said that potato and leek soup was delicious - I just need to be sure to rinse out every layer of the leek so I can remove the sand and prevent my food from being grainy.

I spent some time researching leek receipes. It seems like potato and leek soup is the classic way to go. I wanted to go a fancier route, so I turned to, which has turned into my go-to source for good recipes lately. I decided to make Rachel Ray's BLT and P (bacon, leek, tomato, and potato) Soup.

The receipe says that it takes 25 minutes and is "easy." The instructions were pretty easy to follow, but I didn't have all my food laid out when I started, so I pulled the ingredients from my fridge or pantry as I needed them. If I had everything already chopped or had a sous chef, this reciepe could be fast, but I don't know if I could have this on the table within half an hour of starting. I spent about an hour making the soup this time. There was a lot of vegetable chopping; I should have used my food processor. It would have been really helpful to have seen some cut all these vegetables since they have pretty specific suggestions for their shapes and sizes. Overall, it was a good recipe and a very filling soup (I only used 1 quart of vegetable stock and used the entirity of the diced tomatoes and juices). There are a lot of vegetables in this, so it makes for a very healthy alternative. (Even with the bacon - yum - bacon!) And this much better and richer than soup from a can!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Her Beef Stir Fry

In cooking, things always need to be in balance. If you have a sweet flavor, you also need salty. I showcased "His" beef stir fry, so now it is time for "Hers."
I was actually planning on making beef stir fry this weekend before Eliot suggested it. (I've had a LOT of chicken lately, so am trying to broaden the varieties of meat I eat.) I had the beef already in my refrigerator - I just needed to buy the stir fry vegetables and start cooking.

Here's my secret to having a variety of stir fry combinations: I religiously pick up Chinese and Thai carry out menus.
Why? They list all the ingredients and types of sauces. For free. What better way to be creative without really needing to be creative yourself!

I bought "old fashioned green beans" at the Farmer's Market at Daley Plaza on Thursday during my lunch hour. Not sure what made them old fashioned, but they were bigger than the traditional green beans. Green beans, beef, and garlic seem to be a popular stir-fry combination, so I tried my hand at it!

I turned to my handy Better Home and Gardens cookbook for a sauce recipe. I didn't have all the ingredients they wanted, so I made do with what I had and it still tasted delicious. I used dry sherry, soy sauce, water, cornstarch, ginger root, sugar, minced garlic and pepper and had to pass on the hoisin sauce and crushed red pepper. For the stir fry, I sprinkled the wok with a little bit of kosher salt before adding the beef. (It's an Eliot trick - I take no credit for it.) The meat quickly cooked while I chopped and washed the green beans. When the meat was done, I removed it to a plate and cooked the green beans, garlic, and sauce for a few minutes before adding the meat back in and stir frying for a few more minutes. Delicious and easy! If I were to do this meal again, I would boil the green beans for a few minutes since these still had a crunch to them. I'm sure this had more to do with the type of green beans I used rather than as a general rule. This was a really fast meal to create - it took longer for my rice cooker than anything else. I really liked having the sherry in the sauce. I may use a little more next time...or pour myself a glass to have with dinner as well!

His Beef Stir Fry

I saw my good friend Eliot on my lunch hour this week and he asked what I was doing that evening. I said nothing and he said great - I should come over to his place for dinner. Fantastic! He's a great chef and always creates delicious meals. But then I added the "Do you have gluten free foods?" He said he'll think of something.

Probably almost half of his pantry is gluten-filled foods. Courtesy of me. So it is a bit harder to think of things we can create last minute. (We are both part Italian - so his pasta supply doubled after graciously taking my pasta stockpile.) After work, we went to Whole Foods and bought food to make a beef stir-fry. When looking at the produce, Eliot asked me if I liked certain vegetables, since he knows that I'm traditionally the queen of picky eating. I told him that I'm saying yes to things and trying new foods. Great! He chose some mushrooms, summer squash, onion, and green bell peppers. He was free to be as creative and imaginative as he wanted with the produce. Since all his sauces were gluten-filled, we looked at the selection provided and there were a lot of gf choices! Obviously, a good number of the sauces contained the soy sauce made with wheat, rather than soybeans. When making his selections, Eliot said that he was only getting gf sauces so that way he can always cook for me worry free. He doesn't want to cook with anything that makes me sick! He's so good to me!!! I offered to buy smiley face stickers to put on things that are gf and dairy free in his pantry so we know those are safe. He offered the opposite - get skull and cross bone stickers instead since he has the tendency to add lots of ingredients and doesn't want to grab anything unsafe. Now where to find these not around Halloween time...

Cooking with Eliot is always a treat because I can learn so much! I should have taken notes on what he does and all his tricks, but I'm sure the opportunity will arise again in the future...many times. He showed off the box method for cutting the green peppers - which was a lot safer, easier, and faster than my made-up method, which closely resembles carving a pumpkin... One of his greatest kitchen gadgets is a large food processor. Those mushrooms were perfectly sliced in no time! Eliot does not understand why people buy already sliced mushrooms, he was saying as his food processor was working its magic. "This is cheaper and a lot more fun!" He handled the stir fry and as his sous chef, I was in charge of the rice. Since I received a rice cooker for Christmas, I have become used to putting water and rice in the cooker, stirring it for half a second, putting the lid on, pressing the button down, and walking away and coming back to perfect rice when the cooker button pops over to warm. On the stove, rice needs a little more loving, and sometimes a little extra water.

We had a delicious, colorful meal that had a lot of good flavors. I normally hate mushrooms because of their texture, but I found myself liking them because of their texture! The variety they gave was needed. I'm now open to the possibility of cooking with them myself.

I'm afraid I also didn't have my camera with me while we were cooking, so you are left with a picture taken of my leftovers. It doesn't do the food justice because it was not plated properly. Like any good friend, he sent me home with a container filled with leftovers - enough for two and a half meals!

You May Have Won Round One, Miss Betty Crocker...

...but I'm not going down without a fight!

So there were two things wrong with my Betty Crocker Gluten Free chocolate chip cookies last time:
- There was a light dusting of flour on my hand mixer. That needs to be cleaned thoroughly before I bake again. My first incident of cross contamination occurred in my gf home. Go me.
- I don't know all the baking secrets yet. Some tricks I've seen so far including putting the pans in the freezer, refrigerating the dough, adding extra ingredients, among others.

And since Betty's gf mixes are only $3.69 on sale at Dominick's today (beating out Jewel's regular $4.99), I'm going to try this again. I also bought a cake mix. For good measure.

I was feeling rather urban this morning. With my returned high energy level, I decided to ride my bike to the grocery store. I only needed strawberries, raspberries, powder sugar and cocoa powder, but left with some cake mixes, pasta, Rice Chex. At the Dominick's just north of Thorndale and Broadway, there really isn't a gf section. Their produce section is always huge and amazing, however. I went down the pasta aisle and lo and behold they carried gf pasta...on sale. It's a really small selection (I only noticed two options) but they had a Gluten-Free Item tag - similar to the sale tags they use to catch your eye. So this store will be good for me for some of the basic items that are already gluten and lactose free, but their selection of gf/lactose-free items is still small and I do not know what brands work the best for me yet, so I still need a larger variety. I also needed to buy hoisin sauce, but there was only one option and it contained wheat. I think I need to head south a little bit to the Argyle neighborhood for a wide variety of Asian options.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I'm a very goal-oriented person. I love accomplishing things. And if I say I'm going to do something, I tend to do it since I am just that stubborn.

So here are my goals for the next year:

Eat out once a week. And my weekly "treat" to Chipotle for lunch does not count! I need to feel comfortable speaking up and asking for a gluten and lactose free meal when dining out. I already have restaurant cards that just need to be modified to include dairy.

Read a book once a week. There's a lot of great books about being gf, but also Asian cookbooks are a wealth of information since those meals lean towards being gf by nature.

Bake once a week. I already do a lot of cooking - I make all my own meals except for the above mentioned Chipotle weekly lunch. My great cookie failure has discouraged me, but I need to bounce back from this defeat. There are so many helpful gf hints for cooking, I feel like I need to compile them and post them on my refrigerator and memorize them! (Lactose free cooking is so easy - the one-to-one substitution makes converting any recipe a piece of cake. Pun only partially intended.)

Cook. Easy.

Improve my knife skills. My good friend Eliot is already showing me how to properly cut up vegetables with ease and speed.

Say thank you. A number of stores, restaurants, and brands are joining the gf revolution. Either hand write or e-mail a thank you to help reinforce their amazing decision to help make life a little easier for those with food allergies and intolerances.

Gain weight. These food intolerances seem to have removed some of the more fattening foods from my diet and I am currently dangerously underweight.

Blog often. Let you read about my success and (laugh at my) failures. And learn something along the way. Maybe share some recipes, tips, and tricks.

Say yes. To whatever I CAN eat. Regardless of whether or not I would have eaten it a year or two ago. Growing up, my diet was dairy, bread and meat. With two sides of that triangle removed, it is very hard to eat a properly healthy meal.

I can do this.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gluten-Free for a Healthy Life

My first week and a half of being gluten-free, I stuck to obvious gf foods. I bought a bag of pasta and a box of crackers so I wouldn't go crazy (or starve). I only went to the grocery store for a few things, likes meats and veggies during that time. I knew that I needed to do a major overhaul of my pantry, so tried to weed out all the g-filled food I could. (Thankfully, I spent the two weeks prior expecting to hear a celiac diagnosis, so ate as much of my cookies, crackers, and pasta stockpiles as I could!) I went to the Harold Washington library and found their gluten-free books, checked out a few of them, and read them on my way to my mom's house for the weekend.

The first book I read was Kimberly A. Tessmer, RD, LD's Gluten-Free for a Healthy Life. This book is extremely comprehensive and answers a LOT of questions about going gf. Her conversational yet informative tone lets people realize that this IS possible, it will be hard, but you can do it and do it well. Some of her most valuable sections to the newly diagnosed (or those wondering what exactly gf entails) are her lists of foods to eat, question and avoid. There were a lot of foods and ingredients that I did not necessarily think of when calling to mind the standard wheat, rye, and barely (and sometimes oats.) She also has a section of "Tips from the Experts Themselves" - people who are living gf and eating well. There are a handful of recipes as well as suggestions for gf meals and snacks. I highly, highly recommend this as the first book to read regarding gf and celiac. I used her listing of flours and recipes to make my grocery shopping list and even took the book to the store with me so I could consult it. Tessmer also provides great resources and practical advices for families and children who are gf.

For me, this book gave me so much hope. There is a FAQ section and in it she addresses lactose intolerance and its relationship to gluten intolerance. She says (p 177) "Lactose intolerance is usually only temporary until the condition is under control and the small intestines heals." I constantly remind myself to focus on the word "usually", because my body does not like to respond in the "usual" ways, but even though I will always be gluten-free, I love knowing that one day I can try lactose again and maybe be able to reintroduce that in my diet.

I'm currently rereading this book and am working really hard to not dog ear important pages or highlight every bit of advice since this is a library book. I have read some sections of it aloud to my mom as I help her understand what changes need to be made in my foods, as she always cooks for me when I'm home. (Her recent solution was steaks! Brilliant!) I have added Gluten-Free for a Healthy Life to my "must purchase" book list to add to my growing personal library of cookbook and allergy-related resources.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Perishable Dinner - Veggies, Chicken and Chips

Last Monday, I stocked up on some cheap produce. A week later, I still had some in my fridge about to go bad. So today was a perishable-filled dinner!

I put some cooking oil (about a tablespoon or two) in my wok and let that heat up. Then I added my chopped onion and some corn, cut right off the uncooked cob. While that was cooking on low-medium heat, I pretended to dice up a green and red pepper (pretended to because my dicing skills leave something to be desired). I add the peppers, some salt and some fresh ground pepper and cooked for a few minutes. Then I turned up the heat to medium and added some cooked chicken straight from the refrigerator. Once everything was done, I placed some corn chips on a plate and put my veggie/chicken mixture on top. Easy! And very colorful, too! I had enough for dinner tonight, some seconds, and tomorrow's lunch.
This was a recipe born completely out of necessity. If I really wanted to use all of my produce, I probably should have also tossed in some three week old brolly I didn't finish from a farmer's market...that should probably just be tossed...
The chips were Yellow Chips: All Natural Tortilla Chips from Garden of Eatin'. Clever name! They are made with organic yellow corn, so are gf and dairy free by nature. I really like the sea salt flavoring. They had a nice crunch and were firm enough to hold all my veggies and meat. I will gladly buy them again in the future. They even taste healthy, which is an odd observation, I realize.

In other news, last night I had a gluten reaction. I was completely gluten-free and have been re-reading all labels. I have narrowed down the potential triggers: my gf communion wafer touching gluten wafers or a few crumbs of flour that may have been left on my hand mixer or cookie sheet (very unlikely since I'm really good about washing dishes thoroughly and would have noticed flour.) My reaction was the same as after my last gluten dinner - difficulty breathing and chest pains, pain and discomfort in my abdomen, energy level crashing, no desire to eat and then some more. Did I really just fall in the super-sensitive, must-worry-about-cross-contamination camp? My lactose intolerance is so severe, I joke that I can't have any food that even looked at a glass of milk or a stick of butter. I'm still in the midst of the reaction - it should go away in a day or two. All I can do is ride it out, which sucks. I've been taking running leaps forward so the two steps back is even harder to deal with.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cookie Attempt #1 - Epic fail

I'm horribly disappointed. Depressed even.

When I went to the grocery store to get carrots and celery for my soup, I detoured into the baked goods aisle and bought a box of Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies for $4.99. They seemed like my perfect first gf cookie - a tried and true national brand making gf tasty goodies! The flour variety includes rice and potato with some potato starch. The chocolate chips are made without any milk so the cookies are gf and lactose free (but contains soy)! The side of the box even has a really nice story about how Betty Crocker is making gf foods because two of their workers are newly gf. I applaud their work and their dedication to having a gf processing facility. Hopefully more mainstream companies will follow suit.

I'm normally a baker. It actually runs in my family - my late grandfather worked in a bakery. I can make any delicious batch of cookies in minutes with consistent success. One of the reasons a standing Kitchen Aid mixer is at the top of my wish list is so I can make large batches of cookies with ease. Since I live in a studio apartment, I have to settle for a small but reliable hand mixer. I'm a pro at cookie baking from scratch. The last time I baked cookies from a box was probably in college when living in a small dorm prevented me from keeping anything resembling a pantry - only a stock pile of ramen noodles.

This recipe calls for one stick of softened (not melted) butter, gf vanilla, and an egg. The wording says "stir" - I'm used to mixing. After all, how does one effectively stir softened butter and a flour mixture without making one's arm tired? I used my dairy free butter substitute which normally makes my cookies even softer and richer. I've had great success with the fake butter. I mixed everything together on the lowest speed of my hand mixer. As promised, "dough will be crumbly." It wasn't too terribly hard to work with - a little harder than usual but I was expecting much worse.

I followed the rest of the steps exactly and was so excited when the timer went off 8 minutes later. The cookies looked undercooked, so I kept them in there for another two minutes. I had one thin, giant blob of cookies on my sheet. I quickly worked some magic and made my cookies even smaller and more spread out on the second sheet before putting them in the oven. They looked a lot more attractive than the first sheet when they were done in 8 minutes.

Now for the taste test. In the name of accuracy for this blog, I risked salmonella poisoning and had a little bit of the cookie dough (don't tell my mom). It tasted like any other raw cookie dough (again, don't tell my mom that I know what this tastes like.) Success there! For my cookie blob (the baked cookies that I should actually be reviewing), I had to carefully scrape the cookies off the sheet and I just ended up making one giant cookie mess. The cookie is currently in an airtight container (as the box directed me) and I'm eating it in small pieces. Honestly, I think I have some great topping for my soy chocolate ice cream. This is not a milk-substitute and cookie kind of cookie. The second tray turned out better but the cookies are so thin! I could see right through some of them when removing them from my sheet. The baked cookies are a bit grainy for me and do not have that delicious melt-in-your-mouth taste that I'm used to with traditional flour cookies.
I was reading the reviews on Most people talk about how wonderful these cookies are and how these are the best gf cookies out there. That really depresses me. This is as good as it is going to get? I just had the best? Hell to the no! I can't afford to keep buying the cookie mix to try all the different possibilities of making them gf and butter free and seeing what happens if I freeze dough balls and bake them later. Although, if I bought them in bulk, the boxes would come out to $3.58 each... But if I keep failing, that's a lot of wasted money and time. And there's only a limited number of butter substitutes out there. The amazon reviews were saying that butter is key - but I'm sure I'm not the first person to stray from non-traditional butter in their cookies out of necessity. What did I do wrong? Was it the mixing rather than stirring? Or the butter substitute? Have you had better luck with Betty Crocker's gf foods? I really hate to rule out their gf cookies if I can't make them look like cookies...

Soup - a success!

My chicken noodle soup is a success! I was debating between rice or noodles, but have decided that I have a lot of rice in my diet so need to switch up some things. With soup, I personally believe that noodles should be small and in a cool shape. Normally, I perfer small stars, but since I haven't found any gf (gluten-free) options, I went with a bag filled with children friendly shapes - like dinosaurs, bunnies, frogs, cars, trucks and more!

I slowly brought to a boil 3 cups of last night's chicken broth, 3 cut-up carrots, 3 cut-up celery stalks, about 6 cups of water, a bay leaf, and some salt and a few dashes of dried parsley flakes. Then when the carrots were softened a bit, I added Tinkyada's brown rice pasta. I boiled that for a few minutes and then let simmer for about 25 minutes before poritioning out bowls of soup.

In all, I had 6 full-meal size servings of soup. I placed three servings in zip-lock containers and put them in the freezer for future meals. I've had good luck before with freezing soup with traditional noodles. I think the gf noodles will hold up well - I'll keep the blog world posted on the noodles' freezer success.

A little bit about Tinkyada noodles - I've tried a few different styles of noodles from them and have been really happy. You boil the noodles for 1-2 minutes and then let them simmer for 20. And their packaging boasts that they are "not mushy." I would hope so! To me, they taste a lot like regularly noodles - just a little bit softer - but that could always be due to cooking times. They are currently on sale at Jewel for $3.39 a bag (save 40 cents!) in their organic foods aisle. These were the first gf noodles I tried when doing my expermient and I was really happy to get off to such a great start.

It's everywhere!

I was talking to my mom today and she mentioned reading about gluten in Dr. Gott's newspaper column.

For those of you reading this without previous knowledge of gluten, be sure to read the article! It is helpful and compact overview of what it is and what it does to people with gluten sensitivities:,2_7_GOTT_S1-100711.article

If you want to read more about Celiac disease, check out his earlier column:

I was much better within one week of starting a gluten-free diet. My body was only having major problems with gluten in the past six months - before that any intolerance seemed inconsequential, or was at least overshadowed by the lactose intolerance.

Last week, I had my official diagnosis - gluten intolerance. My biopsies tested negative for Celiac, but there are some people out there with the intolerance without the disease. The self-imposed standard gluten filled diet was so sharply contrasted to the gluten free diet. Away from gluten, I feel like a whole new person - my energy levels are sky rocketing and the best part is that I'm hungry again and can hopefully gain some of the weight I have been losing. My body has been completely devoid of nutrition these past few months because no foods were really been absorbed into my body. I've even been complimented on my glow and happy personality. Parents always tell their children to eat healthy so they feel good, but who knew that food had THIS much of a powerful affect on the body?

We'll end this post with a statistic from

Recent studies and advances in diagnosis show that at least 3 million Americans, or about 1 in 133 people have celiac disease, but only 1-in-4,700 is ever diagnosed.

I've seen this reported from a few different reputable sources. I haven't seen any statistics yet about non-Celiacs who are gluten-intolerant, but I know there's a number of us - probably majority go undiagnosed.

With the rise of gluten awareness, it is becoming much easier to go shopping and order out at a restaurant. There is still a lot of hidden lactose and gluten in foods (soy sauce, meat sauces, salad dressings...) but the more companies are having milk and wheat listed in bold or at the bottom of the ingredients list which makes purchasing products SO much easier. Rice Chex is conveniently labeled "Gluten Free" and even the bottle of fancy ginger ale my friend bought carried the same great message. A year ago, I had no idea what gluten is, so I totally understand when people have questions or wonder what actually contains gluten. (Gluten is in wheat, rye and barley and depending on the person you talk to - oats.)

I meant for that statistic to close out this post, but I apparently had more to say. Now I'm off to create a delicious chicken soup and a few other tasty meals for this week!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Homemade Chicken Broth

I made chicken tonight.

Clarification - I made a WHOLE chicken tonight. By myself.

Why would I do such a thing when I can easily pay for the convenience of a package of chicken breasts? I wanted chicken broth and to get chicken broth, you need a lot more of the chicken. Plus I'm becoming quite the resourceful cook!

I was googling recipes for the broth and came across some good recipes for the whole chicken. Tonight, I made a recipe from Food Network's website. Check it out here:

The ONLY modification that needed to be made was the butter substitution. I've been stocking my fridge with Crystal Farms Dairy Free 70% Vegetable Oil Spread. They have a really long shelf life (er...refrigerator life....) so my fridge is pretty full. It is an easy one-to-one swap for anything calling for butter.

The recipe was really easy to follow and pretty basic. I just need to buy a turkey baster so I can "occasionally baste chicken with pan juices." There's no room for a spoon in the 8x8 cake pan I was using! Maybe I should invest in a bigger pan...I had to put the veggies in another 8x8 cake pan. They were still good, but I'm sure the chicken juices would have given them an extra kick. I also skipped on the sauce - although it seems quite tasty - I didn't feel that it was necessary considering the cooked chicken is going to become a part of several smaller meals.

I had chicken and veggies for dinner and then I started removing the meat from the chicken. My carving skills are non-existent at this point, so I resorted to pulling the meat off with my (clean!) hands. Make sure the chicken is cool before doing this... (Also, make sure to pull the meat thermometer out of the chicken with an oven mitt - metal is hot!!!) I have all of my chicken in a container in the fridge waiting to become a part of a few other delicious to-be-determined meals.

For the broth, I put the chicken carcass and fat, a bay leaf, an onion (quartered), two cut-up carrots and some salt and celery salt (I ran out of celery so thought this might be good?) in a wire mesh strainer in my new stock pot. I measured out 10 cups of cold water and let the water boil. Then I covered and simmered for an hour. After the broth cooled down a little, I started portioning it out into smaller containers. Last time I made broth with a friend (he cooked the chicken - I watched in amazement), we filled the containers and then froze them. Since so many recipes call for 1 cup of broth, I decided to fill square zip lock containers with only 1 cup. After they freeze, I hope to combine two cups into one container, separated by plastic wrap to save valuable freezer space. I have a few cups of broth set aside for soup. Chicken, rice, and vegetable soup, perhaps?

Since I now have fresh homemade broth, I decided I could toss the box of chicken broth I had in the fridge since I hosted a dinner party in February. I'm glad I did! I looked at the label and it said to use within 10-14 days and it contains gluten! No wonder so many gf people make their own I need to add things made with other people's chicken broth on my proceed-with-caution mental list.

What goes in your broth? Or do you have a favorite brand?

Chips, guac and salsa

When dining out with friends now, splitting an appetizer goes beyond what one person is in the mood to eat. My co-worker and I became menu sleuths for the appetizer selection at Heartland Cafe and read every item thoroughly. I have decided that I LOVE menus with descriptions that go beyond a few words - we knew what most of the ingredients were so we were able to narrow our selection before asking our bartender if our choice was gluten and lactose free. He checked with the kitchen. Our selection of chips, guac and salsa was a winner! (If they didn't put sour cream on it! Not an issue for me - but my friend was bummed when there was no sour cream for her. We should have asked for it on the time.) We feasted on corn chips and the dips. I'll admit - I've never had guac before. Ever. I've been meaning to try it, but never got around to it. Normally I eat my chips plain or with salt. But since I can't afford to skimp on any safe foods that are out there - I dove right in and really enjoyed the different tastes and textures between the guac and salsa.

So my last-minute dining out adventure was a success! I'm glad I was able to get off to such a positive start - this will help give me the courage to speak up at restaurants and not feel embarrassed. My biggest dining out fear is that I'll be viewed as that super picky customer. I would much rather suck it up and deal if my food is far from stellar at a restaurant, but now my health depends on it. The pain from lactose easily can get to a get-thee-to-an-emergency-room level within 20 minutes and the gluten pain and energy drop lasts two to three days. Not worth it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is one of my favorite naturally gluten and lactose free meals. There are plenty of vegetables, meat and rice to keep this girl happy and stuffed! I always make four peppers - two for lunches at work and two that go into the freezer. After the peppers cool down, I place them in quart size freezer bags, squeeze the air out, and toss them in the freezer. I defrost them in the fridge the night before I want to eat them and reheat them for about two minutes in the microwave (hint: cut the pepper in half before putting it in the microwave.) It is REALLY easy to make this recipe in bulk - especially since peppers are finally in season and are much cheaper this time of the year! I'm always excited to find these in my freezer! What a great alternative to a frozen dinner!

This recipe is a combination of a few different varieties and it is by far the fastest and easiest. When I made this latest batch, I only used a pinch of dried basil and used a few small fresh basil leaves that I cut up.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 green peppers (or red if you like!)
1 can of diced tomatoes (you only need half of an average size can - put the other half in a plastic container in the fridge)
1/2 onion
3/4 pound of ground beef or ground chuck
1/3 cup rice - UNCOOKED
1/2 cup water
1 T Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
1/2 t dried basil (or to taste)
1/2 t dried oregano (or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Note: remember to preheat your oven to 375 degrees!

Boil water in your largest pot.
Gut the green peppers so you are left with a beautiful, empty shell that will serve as a bowl.
Once your water is boiling, add your green peppers for about a few minutes to soften them. Then remove and set inside a square baking pan while you prepare the stuffing.

Dice your onion.
In a large skillet on medium heat, cook your onion and meat until done and drain the fat.
Stir in the uncooked rice, water, tomatoes (with some of the liquid), Worcestershire sauce and spices (and salt and pepper to taste) in with your onion and meat. Once the water stars boiling, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice is done.
Stuff your peppers! If there is any extra, spoon it around the peppers.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and enjoy!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Great Purge

Once I realized that I had to be gluten free (as well as lactose free), I began what shall be referred to as The Great Purge.

Every label was read. I even checked the labels of my cans of vegetables. Just to be safe. I learned a lot about not assuming a food's ingredients this past year. I would take a can of soup to work as an "emergency lunch" for days when I was too lazy to cook or pull something out of the freezer. I was about to open the soup when I noticed milk was an ingredient in vegetable soup. Frustrated, I handed the soup to one of my co-workers and had to go buy a new lunch.

Systematically, I read EVERYTHING. I knew that my gluten free days could be approaching, so I went a few weeks without restocking my dwindling groceries. Everything with gluten went on an end table. I was hoping it would only be a few things - the cookies, crackers, and noodles. I was surprised that some of my stir-fry sauces and Campbell's condensed soup contain wheat.

My greatest find was a box of Rice Chex - clearly labeled "Gluten-Free" that was sitting on top of my refrigerator. Back in November, I bought the cereal with every intention of making a batch of puppy chow but then my energy level sank and I was cooking only to eat to survive - not eat to enjoy. So I grabbed the box of cereal and was thankful to have a crunchy snack already at my fingertips.

So what was I to do with all this food that made me violently ill? I invited my gluten-loving friend to come over and help himself. I still have some gluten food in my freezer - frozen chocolate chip cookies ready for the oven, (nondairy) ice cream sandwiches, breaded chicken, and probably 3 pounds of my delicious homemade meatballs with breadcrumbs. Now when he comes over, he has a ready supply of food so I can make my (expensive) food last longer.

With bare cabinets and a recently reorganized fridge and freezer, I set out to restock my pantry. I cheated by going to the suburbs. I really wanted this blog to showcase how great and easy to find everything is in Chicago, but the cheaper prices and lower taxes are worth it. My first full gluten-free shopping trip took over an hour and a half. My mom and I kept reading labels and putting things back on the shelf. We strictly shopped for non-perishable items on Saturday. Our focus was on the cereal, rice, Asian, and gluten-free aisles. Yes, there was an entire section dedicated organic, gluten-free, and other specialty food items! Thank you, Woodman's!! My birthday is at the end of this month, so my biggest concern was having delicious baked goods - like brownies and chocolate cake. I bought mixes and will be crossing my fingers that the food is delicious and worth the price! Today, finished my shopping spree with a few other missed specialty items, like unflavored gelatin and cornstarch, and lots of fruits, veggies, and meat. Grand total was 101 items for $253.41. (I was expecting to spend $250.00 - I'm good!) The cheapest item was two bulbs of garlic for $0.55 and my most expensive item was Xanthum Gum for $12.89. All the speciality flours, egg replacers, and mixes hijacked a normally inexpensive trip. (On average, I was spending under $75.00 at the grocery store to maintain my pantry.)

And so I begin cooking lactose and gluten free in Chicago! I bought a 10-quart pot and an 8" chef's knife (which I don't think will fit in my apartment...) as well. Let the cooking begin!

Oh, and there's more food that isn't pictured - both phots are of my non-perishables only. Almost a dozen pounds of meat and plenty of fruits and vegetables are being saved from the summer heat in my refrigerator. And the juices and sodas I bought? Not that exciting.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


This blog should be viewed as informational and opinionated. It is not a source for nutritional information, nor does it even attempt to be. It is not a source for medical advice - this blogger graduated with a double major in theatre and creative writing. I will be using links to help point you to reputable sources from people who know much more than I do about gluten and lactose intollerances. This blog follows the life and food of a twenty-something who became lactose intolerant and gluten intolerant as a young adult and is taking charge of her diet. Always remember to read labels. Twice. Even if you bought the same thing last grocery trip.

Full disclosure: this is from the viewpoint of someone who used to be a VERY picky eater but had to reevaluate all food choices after quickly becoming severely lactose intolerant and then gluten intolerant a year later.

Join me as I start my gluten free life. This blog will be filled with easy-to-make and healthy (always lactose and gluten free) food, shopping experiences, book reviews, and restaurant adventures. I am new to gluten free living after figuring out lactose intolerance this past year. Living in Chicago, I am fortunate to have access to a variety of grocery stores and bakeries, especially those that cater to those with food allergies and sensitivities.