Category Archives: Gluten-free

The Food Mini-Series

Nothing to do with anything.

A few more of my friends have gone gluten-free, and I’ve been thinking about diets and nutrition and giving a lot of advice and (hopefully) support. Being gluten-free seems so easy to me now (six years later) that I’ve almost forgotten what they’re going through.

All this and the changing of the seasonal produce from winter squash and sweet potatoes to lettuce and green beans has been stirring up thoughts on nutrition and diet. I can feel a series of food-related posts coming like a storm brewing.   

I have a friend who is particularly fond of the television mini-series, claiming that because they are longer than movie you become more invested in the story, and because they have endings, unlike a regular series, they provide answers. (Curses to Lost for making me wait this long for answers). She makes a valid argument. Maybe we should return to the days of classics like Mother May I Sleep With Danger?

Anyway, if you haven’t noticed by now, I seem to be fond of the mini-series of posts. The things I want to explore are generally too complex for one post but eventually I run out of things to say. So, for now I’ve included a recipe. Perhaps it’s the beginning of another mini-series. I’ll have to come up with a name… Any ideas?

The recipe: it’s chicken. It’s easy and good and (of course) gluten-free. Enjoy! 

Recipe: Five-Spice Roast Chicken


  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 cut-up chicken (8 pieces; about 3.5 pounds)
  • 1 large onion, peeled, cut into 16 wedges


  1. Combine garlic, salt, olive oil and Chinese five-spice powder in a large bowl. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Arrange onion wedges in 13x9x2-inch roasting pan. Arrange chicken, skin side up, atop onions. Roast until chicken is cooked through, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 50 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Arrange chicken and onions on platter and serve.

Thems Must Be Some REALLY Good Peppers

Or, as my mother would say, what, are they filled with diamonds?

Yoo-hoo, criminals, come-out, come-out, wherever you are!

Last week, I got a little note in my mailbox from a neighbor. Actually it was an email chain printout in which a handful of people on our block recounted stories of prowlers and break-ins. There was one legit break-in (and, from the sounds of it, the victims knew the perpetrator), but most the stories were of kids lurking in the bushes with crowbars. They wait until we leave then pry our doors open and rifle through our freezer and medicine cabinet looking for drugs or cash or drugs for cash. (Hey kid, you really want my hormone-blocking cancer drugs? Help yourself. Welcome to the world of hot flashes and night sweats. Enjoy your stay.)

You’d think this news would scare me. I mean, I stay up at night thinking about flame retardants and dry cleaning chemicals (stay tuned). And sure it creeps me out, but nothing incites more dread and terror than…. Wait for it, wait for it… The urban Trader Joe’s parking lot. Gasp!

Some of you who are lucky enough to have a nice big suburban TJ’s may not know what I’m talking about. Trust me. You’ve never encountered such a tightly packed, poorly planned, small, exhaust filled, impossible-to-get-through-even-if-you’re-done-and-just-want-to-go-home, parking lot. And once you find a spot, don’t even think of opening your door to get your kid out. There. Is. No. Room.   

I really resisted the whole Trader Joe’s movement. Partly because of the lots but also because I didn’t want to add another grocery store to my list and there isn’t really a store close to my house. But, you know, I have a few friends who are die-hard TJ’s fans so I decided to do a little price comparison. Here’s what I found:

Product W. Foods PCC TJ’s QFC**
½ gallon organic whole milk 3.99 3.89 2.99 3.99
Pacific organic almond milk 2.59 2.59 1.69 2.99
Organic grass-fed ground beef 6.99 5.99 5.99 5.49***
Organic extra virgin olive oil (per oz) .65 .60 .38 .78
Organic Fuji apples (per lb) 1.99 1.99 2.07* 2.49
Organic red peppers (per lb) 3.99 3.99 3.52* 8.00*


*This produce was priced per piece instead of per pound. So I made some estimates and created some complex equations to come up with these numbers. I like to think Mrs. Runyan would be proud, but probably not.

**QFC overcharges you retail then makes you give them all your personal information in exchange for one of their bullshit loyalty cards that gives you “discounts” at the register. The rates listed here are what their price tags say and do not include their “discounts.”

***QFC did not have any organic grass-fed ground beef. The closest I could find was “natural.”

Seriously? $8.00 per pound for red peppers? Before this, I would have guessed that QFC would be the cheapest of the stores. Perhaps they don’t buy enough organic or natural products to get volume discounts.

As you can see, in most cases, TJ’s is WAY cheaper. I mean way. Look at almond milk. (For those of you dairy-free-ers, I really think that almond is the best of the alternative milks. I actually feel better when I drink it than when I don’t.) Anyway, the brand, size, everything is the same. How can TJ’s sell it for 40% less?

My experience with Trader Joe’s produce is inconsistent at best. I’ve heard that sometimes they have great watermelons and mangoes, but frequently their fruits and veggies lack flavor and substance. Limes without juice. Soft apples. Tasteless peaches.  

So, now I do fight with TJ’s parking lot on occasion. I shop there like I would Costco. I buy a gallon of milk, 10 cartons of almond milk (it lasts forever), 7 boxes of Paul’s favorite cereal, etc. I load up on prepared food but save my produce purchases for the co-op.

And in the last post about grocery stores  some of you brought up farmers markets. On the Neighborhood Farmer’s Market Alliance site they have a nice little article about produce price comparison studies conducted from 2003-2008. They all find that farmer’s market produce is cheaper than their grocery store competitors. Here’s one interesting example:

Spring 2008: study by Stacy Jones’ SU statistics students found that the average cost per pound of all organic produce at QFC was $2.98, at Whole Foods is was $2.53, and at the Broadway Farmers Market is was $2.36.  A few items were more expensive at the Farmers Market, but most items were more expensive at the grocery stores, so the total average was less at the Farmers Market – which means that a shopper’s grocery bill would average lowest at the Farmers Market. 

Now that we know how much cheaper TJ’s is, perhaps we should encourage them to charge us more and use the extra revenue to make their parking garage slightly less horrific. But then, what would be the point? If it’s not cheap, it’s just another grocery store.

Perhaps the miserable parking lot is the price, or the penance, we pay for the luxury of inexpensive ground beef. Maybe that’s why they give out free samples, to soften the blow. Oh Honey, they say when you burst through the front door waving your crow bar like a sword, after using it to pry open your door and scare away the criminals lurking in dark corners. Here, they say, have a chocolate covered strawberry on a stick and a tiny cup of coffee. Then they press a bottle of olive oil into your hand. Now here, they say, take this. Take home some of our cheap packaged goods. There, now the world doesn’t seem like such a scary place, does it? Don’t you feel better already?

Curried Butternut Squash Soup



I love fresh soup and I’m convinced it cures almost everything. This one is made without any stock so it is quick and easy and a good way to eat lots of vegetables. I give it to Josie in a cup so she can get more down faster since these days her butt is only in the chair for about 20 seconds before she decides she’s completely through and I have to go back to reading her fish book while she asks me if each fish is happy or sad and why or why not, and if, in fact, the bubbles are happy or sad, and I have to explain why the bubbles don’t have feelings while wondering if I should just give up and tell her the bubbles are happy and be done with it.

Anyhoo, the soup is good. Lots of veggies eaten quickly. It’s also easy and yummy. I’m not super-fond of curry so I use half of the recommended amount. It’s from the Café Flora Cookbook. They recommend toasting and grinding your own spices. Yeah, that would be nice. I just use regular ground spices and it works well enough.   


  • 1 medium butternut squash (2.5-3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion minced
  • salt
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced, peeled, fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons curry (I only use 1)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Optional: pinch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce


  1. Peel the squash and cut it in half. Remove the seeds, and cut squash into 1 to 2 inch chunks.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook 2 minutes more.
  3. Add the curry powder, cumin and coriander, and sautee for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 4 cups of water, the squash, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, at a low boil until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup in batches in a blender, being careful to fill the blender jar no more than halfway.
  5. Return the pureed soup to the pot, add the coconut milk, and bring just to a boil. Take the soup off the heat, add the lime juice, and salt to taste. Add cayenne or hot sauce if you want and serve.

Pork, Not Ham

Oh yea, I loves me some tacos

It’s got pork, salsa and chocolate in it. Did you hear that? It’s got chocolate in it. I often overcook a yam and mash it up along with some black beans and wrap it all up in a corn tortilla. Yum, yams. OK, maybe not your thing. Skip the yams if you want, but perhaps you should think about eating more orange vegetables. Seriously, when was the last time? I thought so…

Recipe: Slow Cooker Pulled-Pork Tacos


  • 2 cups store-bought salsa, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Salt
  • 1 – 2 1/2-pound boneless pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 c fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 c sour cream
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  1. In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the salsa, chili powder, oregano, cocoa and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the pork and turn to coat.
  2. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  3. Twenty minutes before serving, heat oven at 350 F. Stack the tortillas, wrap them in foil, and bake until warm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, using 2 forks, shred the port and stir into the cooking liquid, serve with the tortillas, cilantro, sour cream, lime and extra salsa.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine.

Post-Holiday Vegetarianism

A Terrible Photographer But A Decent Cook

I don’t know about you but after the holidays, or really any period when I spend a lot of time with my Atkins diet-loving parents, I tend to want to eat vegetarian for a little while. Don’t get me wrong, I love meat, but sometimes I need a little break — a detox of sorts.

This recipe comes from my (current) favorite cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. It’s sooo good. Even my I-don’t-eat-lentils-they-have-too-many-carbs-pass-the-bacon Dad loves it. Prep time says 50 minutes but that’s because the rice and lentils take time to cook. The hands-on prep time is really minimal. 

Recipe: Indian Rice and Lentils with Carmelized Onions


  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup dried brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 large onions, sliced in thin rounds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup plain yogurt with 1 teaspoon snipped fresh dill mixed in


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a 4-quart pot and add rice and lentils. Saute until nicely coated. Add bay leaf, water, and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 45 minutes, covered. To pressure-cook, use 2 3/4 cups water and cook at pressure 35 to 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat remaining ghee in a skillet on medium to low heat. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt and saute. When onions begin to soften, add garlic and spices. Cook until onions are golden and have begun to carmelize.
  3. When all water is absorbed from rice and lentils, remove from heat and take out bay leaf. Serve rice and lentils topped with carmelized onions and a dollop of dilled yogurt.

Cooking time (duration): 50

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet (other): Gluten free

Meal type: dinner

Microformatting by hRecipe.