Category Archives: Gluten-free

Green Beans and Kids Eating Them

Thanks for all your nice comments on my last post. Things have been spotty here lately and for that I apologize. I’ve missed you all terribly and appreciate your love notes.  And, you guys have some very clever ideas.

So, as promised, here’s how you make the green beans. Throw a bunch on a cookie sheet and pour on a little olive oil. Rub them around with your hand to get them all stirred up. Salt them. I like lots of salt. Put them in the oven set to 425 F for about 7 minutes. Stir them up. Put them back in for another 7 minutes. Ta-da. Make lots. They’ll go quickly.

If you want something a bit more precise, you can go here.

On another note, kale chips? Really? I hear they’re awesome but have not had a positive experience. Someone convince me. Email me or leave me a comment with a recipe if you have one that works.

Next week: kale rice.


The Peanut Puzzle Part II

To continue where I left off the last post, this is all summarized from “The Peanut Puzzle: Could the Conventional Wisdom on Children and Allergies Be Wrong?”

Since the conventional wisdom about when to introduce solid foods to babies was overturned in 2008, Doctors Sampson and Sicherer have continued to study food allergies. They have been experimenting with giving children low doses of the food they are allergic to, sometimes in a different molecular structure, to reeducate the immune system that the food is acceptable.

They observed, “…for example, that baking caused milk proteins to change shape in a way that could be less provocative to the immune system. The allergic person might be able to eat the altered proteins and become tolerant of them in all their forms.”

The article also follows Maya, a little girl with an anaphylactic reaction to milk. In spite of her parents’ vigilance she’d had some frightening reactions. On a family outing she struggled to breathe and lost consciousness after eating something labeled “vegetarian cheese.” Another time she was rushed to the hospital after eating a hot dog that contained milk protein.

Under the instruction of Sampson and Sicherer, and in the presence of a nurse, Maya was given a muffin that contained a small amount of milk. She took one bite and had no reaction. Then she ate the rest of the muffin and after a few minutes the vomiting started and hives appeared. They gave her an injection.

When the reaction stopped, they sent Maya home. Her parents received specific instructions to feed her baked goods containing milk every day. Maya came back six months later and they inserted an IV and had epinephrine at the ready. They gave her a slice of pizza. She ate the entire thing without a reaction.

“It was nothing less than miraculous,” her mother said.

Maya returned the next day and drank a glass of milk. As soon as she finished drinking she began vomiting but they were able to control her reaction with Benadryl. A few months later, Maya was able to eat macaroni and cheese but still unable to tolerate a full glass of milk.

“Even if she never progresses past this,” Maya’s mom said.  “I have no regrets about being in the study, because now she can go to a birthday party and have a slice of pizza. It’s huge.”

It is miraculous. So miraculous that I was considering doing some baking. Then I remembered Josie’s food allergies – egg, whitefish, soy and tree nuts. Codfish pecan muffins, anyone?

The Peanut Puzzle Part I

After my last post, I know you’re all relieved to know that we finally settled in around the one pool in the greater Las Vegas area that did not have loud music. It was a plain rectangle that was in the shade of the high rises until 1:00 every afternoon but we made do.

The highlight of my reading was this: “The Peanut Puzzle: Could the Conventional Wisdom on Children and Allergies Be Wrong?” Sorry, they won’t let you read the article.

Um… YES.

Since 2000 the “conventional wisdom,” endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, has said that parents should wait until a child is 6 months old before introducing solid foods. Then parents should start with the foods that are least likely to cause allergic reactions. This late introduction was thought to make children less likely to develop food allergies.

In the past decade peanut allergies have doubled. Clearly there’s something wrong with our “conventional wisdom.”

I hated giving Josie formula. Spooning powder from a can seemed like the antithesis of nourishment – it was the ultimate processed food. I was anxious to start her on solid foods, but I followed the conventional wisdom and waited until she was 6 months old to give her a bite of cooked sweet potato. In spite of my efforts, or maybe because of them, she’s currently allergic to eggs, soy, white fish and tree nuts.

Doctors Hugh Sampson and Scott Sicherer at Mount Sinai Medical center have found that food allergens are unavoidable and babies come into contact with protein molecules though particles in the air and on skin and in other food and that by giving them such small doses we are actually making their systems more sensitive and more likely to develop allergic responses.

“You can’t avoid food proteins,” Sampson, said. “So when we put out these recommendations we allowed the infants to get intermittent and low-dose exposure, especially on the skin, which actually may have made them even more sensitive.”

Based on a report submitted by Sampson and Sicherer, The American Academy of Pediatrics overturned this practice in January of 2008, stating – “Current evidence does not support a major role for maternal dietary restrictions during pregnancy or lactation… There is also little evidence that delaying the timing of the introduction of complementary foods beyond four to six months of age prevents the occurrence of [allergies].”

Now what? The retraction of the previous recommendation leaves a hole where the current advice should be placed, but there’s nothing there. At this point, all we know is that we don’t know what we thought we knew and I guess that’s a great first step.

When did you introduce solids? How did that work out? Does your child have allergies?

To be continued…

Three Sisters Stew

I’m long overdue to share some culinary genius with you guys. Of course, this genius is not mine but from my favorite cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family. It’s a vegetarian stew that’s meaty and filling. Josie can’t get enough. If you use delicate squash, you don’t have to peel it. You can just scrape out the seeds, chop it up and drop it in.


  • 1 cup dried Christmas lima beans, soaked 6 to 8 hours and drained
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2-3 cups winter squash peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1 (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen corn


  1. Place beans, 2 cups of stock and 1 teaspoon of cumin in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until beans are tender (50-60 minutes).
  2. Heat a 4-quart pot to medium, add oil and saute the remaining cumin oregano and cinnamon for 30 seconds. Add onion, salt, and garlic; saute until onion is soft (5 minutes). Add squash, tomatoes, and chili powder, bring to a simmer and cook until squash is soft (about 20 minutes). Add 1/2 to 1 cup stock if mixture is dry. Add cooked beans and corn; simmer until corn is tender. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Fructose is the New Gluten

Josie’s new doctor (my new hero) says that many kids with lactose intolerance are also unable to break down fructose. With a little Googling I discovered that fructose mal-absorption is associated with mood swings and mood disorders. Between eliminating the gastrointestinal discomfort of lactose intolerance and the moodiness of fructose intolerance things are really making more sense around here. This is revolutionary, truly.     

Fructose, a natural sugar found in fruits and included in many processed foods, has been more difficult than lactose to eliminate. Of course, it’s in fruit juice and high fructose corn syrup, but it’s also in products sweetened by fruit juice.

I noticed right away that fructose was the first ingredient in Josie’s multi-vitamin. Apparently we were giving her a nice little dose of crazy every morning to start the day. Super. As soon as I could I went to my co-op grocery and spent several hours (okay, minutes) reading children’s multi-vitamin labels, trying to find one that was fructose-free. Finally I found one that didn’t list fructose but did include a “natural berry flavor” and decided to give it a try. 

We skipped her vitamin completely for a few days. Then one Sunday morning I gave her this new vitamin. She was beet-red screaming, crying, grasping for air, within 15 minutes. I had to get in bed with her and rub her back to calm her down. Apparently, there can also be fructose in the ambiguous catch all: “natural flavors.”

The lack of transparency on food labels, and the experimentation method of determining ingredients reminds me of the early days of my gluten-intolerance. I’m going to tell you guys right now, this family, is on the leading edge of food intolerances. It’s one of my talents, one of my gifts if you will, spotting trends in exclusionary food diets. I’m warning you now, fructose, it’s the eliminated ingredient of the future. You heard it here first. Fructose is the new gluten.

PS – The results are in and HMN finished 2nd overall in the ‘Parenting category’ of the Best of Western Washington contest. I’m so pleased to be second! Really, thank you guys so so much. You’re the bestest. XOXO

Awash in Squash

Garden Update: first it was the broccoli, then the greens, now we’re awash in spaghetti squash. The vine took over the 4’x10’ bed then tried to crawl across the aisle and up the bean trellis. A few weeks ago I noticed that the vine had withered and died and I decided that even though they were still a little under-ripe it was time to bring them inside. I had 8 of them lined up along our kitchen counter.

I think we may hand a few out at Halloween. Here kid, have a giant under-ripe squash. Boo!

Or maybe we’ll hand out kale. The kale I planted in the spring never bolted, it’s still growing and producing. A few weeks ago, I thinned out a few plants but I still have three. They’re taller than I am. I tied their stalks loosely to stakes so they won’t blow over. I expect them to walk into the house and curl up next to the fire any day now.

Hey kid, would you like a Reese’s peanut butter cup or… a stalk of kale?

Anyway, what are you awash in this fall? Are you planning to grow anything over the winter?

Here’s one of my favorite spaghetti squash recipes. It’s kind of like lasagna only without noodles and with squash so really nothing like lasagna. Forget I said that. Of course, it’s gluten-free. I made a Josie a special dairy-free section without the cheese.

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Tomato Sauce


  • 1 2 lb spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb ground buffalo (or beef)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 28oz cans whole tomatoes drained and chopped
  • 3 oregano sprigs
  • 3 thyme springs
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 15oz carton ricotta


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Pierce squash with a fork and place it on a baking sheet. Bake for at least an hour or until tender. Cool. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Throw away the seeds and use a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands to measure 4 cups.
  3. Brown ground buffalo (or beef) in a frying pan.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, oregano and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Discard oregano and thyme sprigs. Mix in browned buffalo, Parmesan, and remaining salt, pepper, oregano and thyme.
  5. Layer squash, tomato and buffalo mixture, and ricotta cheese in a 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 400 for 50 minutes.


My vegetable beds have gone totally Darwinian – the squash, melons and cucumbers are all tangled up in each other, the kale is five feet tall, and the spaghetti squash vines have taken over one bed and are reaching over the aisle and climbing the green bean trellis. It’s scary out there.

Here’s the problem: I can’t throw away vegetable starts. I don’t do seeds unless they can be planted directly into the beds. When the season is right, I go to the local nursery and buy a variety of organic starts – whatever sounds good. This means I buy six or eight plants when I usually need about three or four.

Take kale for example, I bought a container of six, but when planted the recommended 18” apart I only had room for four. It seemed like there was so much empty space and the starts were so itty-bitty. I couldn’t just throw them away. I imagined my baby kale crushed in the yard waste bin. So, of course, I planted all of them about 12” apart and planned to thin out the smaller more sickly ones later. When that time came they were all so healthy and doing so well. How could I rip such a lovely food-producing plant out of the ground and throw it away? Do you see? This same thing happened with the onions, leeks, chard, kale, all manner of squash, celery, beans, and the lettuce. There’s some crazy shit going on out there.

So now, instead of broccoli, I am awash in chard and kale – greens, greens everywhere. I bring a cooler full to the Wednesday night sailing races and I walk around the parking lot, just me and my bunch of greens, pushing them on anyone who will take them. I add kale to everything – pea soup, stews, spaghetti, and, yes, it was not my proudest moment, but I even add them to tacos.

I’m constantly on the lookout for good greens recipes. I’m fond of a white bean and chard or kale soup and also Martha Stewart has an awesome recipe for brown rice and chard risotto, wrapped in a blanched chard leaf (like a burrito) and topped with tomato sauce. It’s great but exhausting to make.

My new favorite is this one. I substitute chard for spinach and it’s oh so good. Rice, onion, egg, chard and lots of cheese baked together? Really, you can’t go wrong.

Have you got any good greens recipes for me? Please, please help me with our chard consumption. I’m begging you.

The Basics

I'm not always good.

Over Easter weekend, Josie’s grandma sent her a beaded bracelet. I was sitting at Josie’s little table, my knees tucked comfortably under my chin, when Josie decided Mommy should wear the bracelet. I pulled my fingers together and she slid it onto my wrist. Then she took one step back, crossed her arms, tilted her head to one side and then to the other and said, “Oh, cute!”

I don’t know exactly when she saw me do that but it was clearly me. No question. We’ve moved into the mimic phase. Speaking of little mimics, I have a funny story to share: one day when my sister went to pick up her two-and-a-half-year-old from daycare, my niece pulled a baggie of snacks out of her bag, held it up and said, I kid you not, “These aren’t my f*cking goldfish.” Gee, I wonder where she picked up that sentence construction and vocabulary. Ah, I do love that story.

My point: I’ve been trying to be a good girl. I try not to curse… often, I wash my hands frequently, and I try to eat well and get plenty of sleep.

I haven’t always been a good eater. I was on an elimination diet – no gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, egg or nuts – when I was diagnosed with cancer. I had chronic abdominal pain and gi problems and I thought of food as something that made me sick. I ate plain chicken and steamed vegetables. I drank distilled water. That was it. I was all knees and elbows and weighed 30 pounds less than I do now.   

After my cancer diagnosis, a nutritionist pointed out that if I didn’t start eating, and stop losing weight, I wouldn’t be able to get chemo. And then where will you be? Not much later, I saw a naturopath who told me the most important things I could do were eat and sleep.

These two statements revolutionized my approach to health. I had always thought of diet and nutrition as vaguely important, but in my previous healthier days, I ate primarily for pleasure or to fill my stomach. Gradually, I began to think of eating as an opportunity to stay healthy through chemo and to boost my immune system.

Even when I got busy and run-down from treatment, my goals were clear. Meal planning, grocery (and sometimes handbag) shopping, and cooking, activities that used to be conducted on a time available basis, were suddenly worth cancelling plans to accomplish.

Let’s just stop there and think about this: cancelling plans so you can go to the grocery store.

Is there anything more important than your health? Eating and sleeping, these are the skills I want my little mimic to learn.

Now tell me about you. Do you make eating and sleeping priorities? Have I told you how much I love it when you leave me comments? Have I mentioned how cute you look today?

Curried Quinoa Salad

Hey, I’ve been working on a little sumpin’ sumpin’ over here. Primarily, I think my RSS feed is finally fixed. If you haven’t had any problems: disregard. If you have had problems: try it again. Let me know if it doesn’t work (but maybe wait until Monday because I’ll be really annoyed and I’d hate to ruin my weekend).

Nothing wrong with eating a little bird seed every now and then.

Oh, I’m just kidding. It’s millet that’s in bird seed, not quinoa.

As promised: A couscous recipe that I’ve modified to quinoa to be gluten free. Even if you eat gluten, you should try it. It’s easy and good. 

Recipe: Curried Quinoa Salad


  • 1/2 c quinoa
  • 1/2 pound green beans
  • 1 c chopped seeded cucumber
  • 1/2 c shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c dried currants
  • 1/4 c sliced toasted almonds
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/2 c plain yogurt
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric


  1. Rinse quinoa and put in a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until water is absorbed (10-15 minutes).
  2. Cut beans into 2-inch pieces and steam for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.
  4. Stir together quinoa with all the other ingredients and dressing. Serve warm or cold.

Gluten-Free Guide

I went to the woods and played with my camera this weekend.

Seriously, being gluten-free is not the end of the world. You will not starve. You will still eat pancakes. No babies will die. Listen up, here’s your list of substitutes:

  • Brown rice pasta is fine. This brand is the one I like. The best part: the tag line is “Gluten Free Joy!” I love that. Love it.
  • I use Bragg liquid aminos instead of soy sauce. Yes, I even bring my own bottle into sushi restaurants. Just doing my best to live up to the label of self-sustaining high-maintenance.  
  • I drink this almond milk. I know, cow’s milk doesn’t contain gluten but those with celiac often have an allergy to dairy as well. This one is really the best nut beverage of its kind.   
  • I use this “bread” for toast. Really it’s nothing like toast or bread at all. Banish that thought from your mind and just go with this hard crusty thing that takes twice as long to brown. I like millet the best. You can find it in the refrigerated section of most natural food stores. 
  • I hear that this kind of “bread” is best for sandwiches.  I think they sell it at Whole Foods.
  • I don’t eat a lot of sweets or baked goods but I hear Pamela’s has some great mixes.
  • Bob’s Red Mill has some good gluten-free mixes and gluten-free oats. Oats are hotly debated in the gluten-free world. They’re often processed in the same facilities that process wheat products. Some say that even if oats are not contaminated by the facility they still contain gluten. Cut them out to be safe and test them later.
  • These are my favorite crackers. The first few times I had them I thought they were terrible. They really grow on you. Give em a try. 
  • I use brown rice flower for a cooking substitute – usually as a thickener in gravy.
  • I love this bar. It’s gluten free and contains almond butter, date paste and organic bio sprouts (whatever the hell those are). Bio-sprout joy! Yum! 
  • I didn’t eat pizza for about five years until I found this: Garlic Jim’s gluten-free pizza. The first time I had it, I put a piece on my plate and commanded silence from Paul and Josie (nearly impossible) so I could appreciate the historic moment. It was heaven. It was a monumental for me (and my waistline). They deliver to my house. Do you hear that people? I can get gluten-free pizza delivered. Oh, gluten-free joy!
  • We eat a lot of quinoa around here. I substitute it for couscous in lots of recipes and it works pretty well. I’ll post one for you to try in a few days. OK?

Hey, all you gluten-free-ers, post your tips and favorite products or recipes in the comments. Send this link to your gf friends and get them to post their favorite tips. Share the love.

Gluten-free joy to you!