Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chicken Marsala - Gluten & Casein Free

Chicken Marsala GF/CF

I have not made Chicken Marsala in years. I'm sure the last time I made it, it was not gluten or dairy free. But really, this recipe is very easy to adapt. I used the recipe on the back of the Marsala Wine bottle (which says gluten free right on it!). The pic is a little fuzzy because it was steaming hot and fogged up my camera lens! But it was so tasty. On the side I just steamed some spinach and drizzled it with olive oil. Delicious!!

Chicken Marsala - Gluten Free & Casein Free
Adapted from the recipe on the Holland House bottle.

4 Chicken Cutlets, boneless and skinless
2 Tbsp. Flour - I used GF Pantry All Purpose
2 Tbsp. Butter - Earth Balance
2 Cups Mushrooms
3/4 Cup Holland House Marsala Cooking Wine
1/4 Cup Water
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, Chopped
1/4 Tsp. Rosemary (optional)

Pound chicken cutlets until thin, dredge in flour
In large skillet, melt butter and saute mushrooms over medium heat until brown - approx ten minutes.
Remove and set aside.
Add chicken to skillet and cook through, 4 minutes each side.
Remove to serving platter.
Return mushrooms to the pan, stir in Marsala, water, parsley and rosemary.
Heat and pour over chicken. Serves four.

I like my Marsala sauce thick so I cooked it down quite a bit, but it's up to you how long you cook the sauce at the end. I also did not add parsley or rosemary. It was just fine without them. I prefer to serve my Chicken Marsala over pasta, so I cooked Tinkyada brown rice pasta shells and mixed them in at the end. Enjoy!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Crohn's Disease Support Network


Visit Crohn's Disease Support Network - CDSN


Very recently, Jason Leitman started the Crohn's Disease Support Network to give us Crohnies a place to go to support each other and socialize and also to help raise awareness for Crohn's Disease. The group has already gained over 300 members! It's a fun place for people with Crohn's or people who know other people with Crohn's to go for information and support and I love it. I've been on a few different Crohn's Disease message boards and things like that and for the most part I find them to be very negative. A lot of people just complaining about their sad situation. CDSN is more of a place where people are not letting CD get them down, the mood is almost always upbeat and happy. I highly recommend you check it out by clicking the box above. You can also follow CDSN on Twitter @CrohnsDiseaseSN and if you're not already doing so, follow me! @MySugarAndSpice :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Fishy
Taken at the New England Aquarium yesterday.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Popping In.

I'm sorry it's been quiet! I haven't had much to say that's new and exciting. I'm feeling great, still med free. I ran out of Better Batter so I'm not baking anything, not to mention the sugar issue. My Great Aunt June "Auntie June" passed away yesterday so the next couple of days will be filled with sadness. She was very frail and I know she's in a better place, hopefully reunited with my Uncle John who passed a long time ago. So it will continue to be quiet for a while here. Be back soon. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

We are what we eat, so eat the right stuff!

This is a topic I've been pondering for a while now, but after reading this article yesterday I decided to write about it. There has been a lot of talk lately about the difference between corn-fed beef and grass-fed beef. Many people have started making the switch to grass-fed, organic beef because of the ethical aspect. I don't know the facts, and I haven't watched Food, Inc. yet, but I hear that in many instances, corn-fed cows are packed into tight quarters, fed unnatural diets to fatten them up, pumped full of antibiotics and hormones and just all around treated poorly. Grass-fed cows on the other hand are raised naturally and healthfully and therefore give us healthier beef. At least, that's the theory anyway.

So if corn-fed cows tend to be less healthy in life, does that mean their beef is less healthy for us to eat? Would eating grass-fed beef be healthier for us in more ways than we think? Well that's one topic to ponder, but this blog post isn't actually about that. I came here today to make a different point entirely.

Read that article again. Read this paragraph again:

Studies have shown that corn fed beef (this includes meat and dairy) has lower nutritional value. It often contains more total fat, saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol. At the same time, it has a decreased amount of essential nutrients, such as vitamin E, vitamin c, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Grass fed beef, on the other hand, is lower in fat and calories. It has been shown that grass fed beef can have as much as 1/3rd less fat than corn fed beef. Additionally, it also contains more omega-3 fatty acids, which are the "good" fats. Omega-3 accounts for 60% of the fat found in grass fed beef.


Now make a parallel comparison between cows and humans. Cows that eat an unnatural diet are fatter and unhealthier. Cows that eat the foods that they were intended to eat are healthier. Humans that eat unnatural diets are fatter and unhealthier. Humans that eat foods that they were intended to eat are healthier. Take it one step further and say that humans are supposed to eat meat. (I know there is some debate, but guess what, we wouldn't have been born with incisors if we weren't supposed to eat meat!) Therefore, healthy humans should eat healthy cows! That's actually a side note.

The point I'm trying to make here is that we should be eating what our bodies were intended to eat. All the crap that sits on grocery store shelves is NOT healthy, no matter what the "made with whole-grains" or "healthy choice" labels say. And I'm not just preaching to you all, I'm talking to myself too. You can argue until the cows come home that you can't afford or don't have time to eat healthy but guess what, you can and do. Do your homework, plan your meals, you will not break the bank by eating the right way. And the benefits you'll see and feel in your body will make it all worthwhile.

If you're new to this blog, you'll quickly realize that I truly believe that the reason this country is so sick is directly related to what we eat. Autoimmune disease is a combination of genetic predisposition plus environmental factors. Sure there are a ton of environmental factors that COULD be the trigger, but there are thousands, maybe even millions, of people out there healing themselves through diet. I am one of them. I'm living proof. Doctors and scientists are starting to catch up but sometimes I feel that they can't see past the end of their noses. I feel like the answer is staring at them in the face but for whatever reason they reject it. It's up to us to take control of our health. "Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food" - Hippocrates - see, this isn't a new concept!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Updates and Whatnot

I've been med free for a month and a half. It took me a little while to get back to 100% GF/CF compliance but I've been there for a while now. I feel awesome. Simple as that. Awesome. I'm still working on cutting back on sugar and incorporating more fruits and veggies into my diet. It's a slow process but I'm getting there.

I am still unemployed but I'm working on that too. I'm considering interviewing for a position that would require significant travel. I'm nervous about the diet and the Crohn's but also I feel that both are manageable and in fact would make for a much more interesting blog! Ha. Yeah I'm thinking about blogging in relation to a job. It would allow me to see the country and get paid for it. I'd be working in hospitals and doctors' offices in a technology position. My Mom doesn't want me to travel, of course, but I'm starting to think I'd be crazy to pass up this opportunity.

On the other hand, I'd been trying to think of ways that I could build up my freelancing to a point where I could possibly take a part-time position and do more freelance work. Just today I booked two photography sessions. I don't think I could pull it off financially, so the travel position is looking like the better option. I'm not getting calls back on any of the other resumes I'm putting out there. And there are a few other factors that are making me think that this is something I just have to do.

I do admit that time off is awesome, but I hate the feeling of not knowing what's next. It would be great if I could just not go back to work, but that's obviously not an option so I'd really like to get this settled! In the meantime, I'm spending as much time with my niece as possible, she is just amazing!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Glow Gluten Free Cookies!!

Well, just as I pressed "Publish Post" on my sugar rant, the postman dropped off a package. Although I must admit, I knew it was coming. I guess the sugar detox will have to wait another day because in the package was:

Glow gluten free cookies!!

COOKIES!!!!!!!

Jill from Glow Gluten Free was kind enough to send me a free sampler pack of all four kinds of cookies that she makes. These cookies are gluten free, casein free, trans fat free, preservative free and all natural. Just the way I like them. Of course I dove right in and tried one of each. I couldn't resist. They looked soooooo good. And I was definitely not disappointed!!

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In my haste to catch the last sliver of delicious sunlight for my photo, I dropped the plate of cookies. And then promptly put them back on the plate and took the photo. I still didn't get the light I wanted. That is why they are broken, they were all intact when they arrived. There are four different varieties. I'll talk about each one.

The first, my all-time favorite, is the Double Chocolate. Crunchy, chocolately deliciousness. You know those little 3 packs of Peggy Lawton cookies? I LOVE them, and these remind me of those. Without all the junk. So yummy!

Next up I tried the Chocolate Chip. In the brochure Jill dares me to put some ice cream between two of these babies. I wish I had read that first because these are the perfect ice cream sandwich cookies. I even have a pint of coconut milk mint ice cream in the freezer. I know what I'm doing tomorrow... These were excellent.

Then it as on to the Snickerdoodle. The first bite of this cookie took me to a place I've wanted to go for a loooong time. Let me explain. I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and I've been craving it hard. This cookie tastes JUST like CTC!! I swear tomorrow morning I'm breaking up two of these cookies and eating them out of a bowl with almond milk. Fantastic!

And finally, the Gingersnap. I've only recently begun eating ginger snaps, and really the only ones I've ever eaten are Mi Del GF Ginger Snaps which I love. These Glow GF ginger snaps are the real deal. They taste like fresh grated ginger. It's a little overwhelming for me, but it's still a great cookie. If you're a ginger lover, these are legit.

The bottom line is this - if you served these to your gluten eating guests, they would love them. You'd never have a clue that these are gluten and casein free. They are all delicious, crispy, crumbly (not in a bad way) high quality, wonderful cookies. I highly recommend them!! Thanks Jill for sending these my way!

Oh, and btw, I'm also a packaging junkie, I LOVE the brand design and packaging of these!

Let's talk about sugar again.

Sugar Packet

Remember my old blog header? My first one lol. Anyway this picture describes perfectly what I'm dealing with right now. The holidays set me way back on the sugar front. I'm in full on addiction mode. I went to Whole Foods the other night and walked out of there with KinniToos and a big bar of rice milk chocolate and then last night I picked up some coconut milk ice cream and chocolate syrup. I had an ice cream sundae last night. I used to eat like this ALL the time and last night I was thinking to myself "how on earth did I eat like this before??" I felt horrible!! And I used to eat the whole pint of ice cream, last night I just had a small serving! Just think of the damage I was doing...

Anyway, Kerrie asked me what sugar subs I use and honestly, I have still been using regular old sugar. I do have agave and pure maple syrup in the house but lately I haven't even been thinking about that. Honestly, the goal in my low sugar quest is to avoid baked goods as much as possible. Agave and maple syrup and honey are all less processed forms of sugar, but they are still sugars.

This year now that I'm in remission and off meds, my biggest goal is to really focus on optimal health. I'm starting to study again for my personal trainer certification and I really want to set a good example, practice what I preach. I've come a long way in my health and well-being journey and I'm not going to start going backwards now. I'm in a great place and excited to keep moving forward!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chasing Mrs. Budd

Chicken Pie

My absolute favorite food in the whole wide world is Mrs. Budd's chicken pot pie served over mashed potatoes or rice. I miss it with all my heart. So I'm now on a mission to re-create it gf/cf style. This was my first attempt at a homemade pot pie ever. Nevermind that it was gf/cf. And it was pretty good! Not even close to Mrs. Budd's but as chicken pie goes, pretty tasty. Too much thyme but that's ok. I am not going to post the recipe until I get it just right, but check that out, looks good doesn't it? The crust was super simple. Better Batter, melted earth balance and water (or rice milk? I forget), mixed together until dough forms and then just spread out on top of the filling, baked at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. The crust tasted great but wasn't nearly the same as the flaky pastry dough pie crust of Mrs. Budd's.

On another note... I went to see The Doc yesterday. As you may know, I've been off of my medication for a month now because my white blood cell count had dropped. I also found out that my red blood cells have enlarged, he thinks due to the B12 deficiency. Interesting thing is, my B12 level went back up 15 days after going med free... coincidence?? Anyway, so I went yesterday hoping that I'd be able to convince him that I should stay off the meds, at least for a little while longer. As it turns out, I didn't even have to ask. Because my WBC is still low, he wants me to stay off the meds for another 3 months. He thinks that my Crohn's is going to be manageable for the long term and doesn't think I'm a good candidate for stronger treatments like Remicade and Humira. I was SO happy to hear that. So basically there aren't a lot of options for me at this point since I refuse to go back on steroids or Pentasa. He might want to try a lowered dose of the Azathioprine (Imuran) once my WBC rebounds but I feel (and I think he will agree) that most likely my body will reject it again eventually anyway. So the goal is to keep going with this strict gf/cf/low sugar diet and show him in 3 months that I'm doing great and convince him to let me stay off the meds as long as possible. If I relapse I won't hesitate to rethink our strategy but until then, I'm all about doing this naturally. Just like I've wanted all along. I can't believe I'm at this point!!

I feel like a normal human being again and I love it. I'm doing great with the diet, I'm still struggling with cutting out the sugar but as far as gf/cf I'm right on. The thought of cheating and relapsing keeps me focused this time. I know I've done this on and off for years but this time feels different. I have no meds to fall back on this time. I have years of proof that this WORKS. I'm very happy and excited to move forward on my journey to excellent health.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review: Kinnikinnick Breads

365-4.2

A while ago I noticed that Stop & Shop started carrying a ton of Kinnikinnick products. Muffins, breads, donuts... cinnamon and sugar coated donuts... oh my gosh the donuts. Right. So anyway, it's a bit annoying to have to go to a minimum of two different stores to buy all of my groceries. I'm happy to see that Stop & Shop is really stepping up the stocking of the gluten free shelves and freezer cases.

In the past month or so I've had the white sandwich bread, italian bread, and hamburger rolls. The three different breads basically tasted the same. I love the italian bread or white sandwich bread for toast with eggs, or a small sandwich. The hamburger buns are great for a small hamburger or a sandwich. This pic is of a hamburger roll with chicken salad inside. Yum! These breads come frozen and definitely need to be toasted. The flavor is good, not to much of that gluten-free flavor, with a hint of sweetness.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My 365

365-3

For those that were looking for a link to my 365 Project, I added a Flickr link in the left sidebar. I used to have that little square of my four most recent photos but I removed it a while ago and can't find the code for it. I'll keep looking but for now, you can use the Flickr link in the left sidebar. If you have a Flickr account you can add me as a contact. Find me at Jennifer Lynn Photos & Design in a people search.

This was my photo from yesterday. It's been snowing and snowing here and as much as I protest, I actually love playing in the snow. I just hate driving in it. Today's photo ought to be a good one... you have no idea what just happened in my basement.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Review: Better Batter Gluten Free Flour

Cupcakes and Christmas Lights

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I've been having a lot of baking struggles lately. I don't know what happened, I feel like last year I was so much better at this. I've baked probably five different cornbreads and thrown away all of them. The last one was almost a success, the flavor was better, but after a day the bread turned into a dense brick.

Last week on a random afternoon I decided to make the trip out to A New Leaf in Needham, MA because I heard it's a mecca of gluten free deliciousness. It really is too, shelf after shelf of gluten free products. I went to get a box of Better Batter gluten free all purpose flour mix. I also knew that they stock Joan's Gluten Free Great Bakes. Their English Muffins are $12 for 6 but they are SO incredibly good that I couldn't resist.

Pardon the iPhone pics:

A new leaf 1

A new leaf 2

So anyway, back to the post at hand. The Better Batter. My first experiment was cornbread. I used a regular cornbread recipe from allrecipes.com and subbed the flour 1:1. I've learned over the years that the key to gluten free baking is in the mixing process and I usually dissolve the sugar in the eggs/milk mixture before adding it to the dry ingredients and then folding the two together very gently. This usually gives me a light fluffy end result. I wasn't paying attention when I made the cornbread and I forgot to do this and ended up with some pretty dense stuff. It tasted good but I ended up throwing it away because it was like a rock after one day.

The next experiment was cupcakes for the New Year's Eve party. I used another basic recipe from allrecipes.com and again subbed the flour 1:1. This time I remembered to dissolve the sugar and it worked perfectly. Light, fluffy cupcakes!!! Not crumbly or gritty, no gluten-free aftertaste. Delicious!!!! I made a chocolate buttercream frosting and that was heaven. I used Earth Balance buttery spread and Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla milk for the dairy substitutes. I believe the almond milk is what's giving my cupcakes their greyish hue. I am going to use rice milk next time to see what happens. I highly recommend Better Batter, it works perfectly as a 1:1 substitute in your old gluten filled recipes and the taste and texture is fantastic. It even smells like wheat flour in the bag I think. I love it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's On.

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If you have a Flickr account, you may be aware of a little something called the 365 Project. It's where you take a photo of yourself every day for a year and post it on Flickr. I'm typically not the type of person that likes to make such a commitment, but 2010 is the year of challenging myself and accomplishing goals. I figure this would be a great way to document all of that, so it will be an accomplishment that documents my accomplishments. Wow. Cheesy. I love it.

This photo is horrible. Because it's 9pm and I just decided to do this project thanks to Lauren and I'm still in my pj's, un-showered and lazy on New Years Day. My first project of the year is to put together my cookbook. The one I started forever ago. Not one I'm going to publish or anything, I just collect all your best recipes and print them out for myself to use.

Did you notice that I'm using a cooling rack as my laptop desk? Oh yeah, that's right.