What did you notice after going gluten free?

This is maybe week 6 of being gluten free?

(or as gluten free as possible. I did not check the salad dressing or teriyaki sauce that’s in the fridge, and i’m sure the spicy Chinese food I had wasn’t gluten free. I’m trying!)

Beyond the less zits and less hanger, here are a few more things that I’ve noticed:

Less Anxiety – I have been in denial that over the last 10-15 years, but my anxiety had been at times crippling.   I would freak out in the grocery store (too much over simulation!), get angry and cry over nothing, be fearful that something terrible was right around the corner, be irrationally impatient over silly things, etc.   I suddenly don’t have that as much anymore.  And when my anxiety does spike, it is easier for me to recognize it.  Was this caused by gluten? who knows.  I just enjoy that i am not having it as often.

My hands don’t shake as much – i’d having trouble picking up a mug of coffee. I could hold a pen ok, because the side of my hand was resting on the paper. I couldn’t carry a plate of food around a party my hands would shake so bad.  This is a strange thing that I’ve had on and off since my early 20s, I am used to it, my husband is used to it, but it is still embarrassing. it’s still there, but no where near as bad.

My period isn’t as awful.  Only had 1 period since going GF, but PMS and cramps didn’t seem to be as awful.  I’m used to absolutely brutal PMS followed by cramps that don’t give up (the cramps are debilitating, but they sure are annoying!), and this last period was just like “eh, ok. no biggie”.

Gluten free bread doesn’t have to suck!  Experimented with a few GF bread recipes, and even my husband thought it tasted good!  Very heavy, had the texture of a quick bread, but yeah, tasted like bread!

I am still afraid of carbs.  We went to a health food store the other day that had tons, and do mean tons of GF foods. I stood in front of a shelf and said outloud: I can eat all of this stuff! with a huge smile on my face. it was cookies and crackers and brownie mixes, types of foods I have not eaten in years because of the carb count. I did’t buy any of it. I am still legit afraid of carby foods.

I’m still getting bloated, but it wasn’t like before.  I made a GF oat bread, and it bloated me right up. I’m eating potatoes more, and they are bloating me right up. BUT! the bloating isn’t painful like before, and it goes away in a normal amount of time instead of days and days.

 

What are some of the things you noticed after going GF?

 

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Gluten free, week 3

I’m now on week 3 of gluten free.  my cheat day was great a reminder that going gluten free was the right choice.

To be clear: I am not celiac, and I have not been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity. I have not even spoke to a doctor about this. I was having some harmless but annoying health issues (see below), and decided to experiment with an elimination diet to see if I could determine what might be causing my issues.  And really, what was the worst thing that could happen during a week of gluten free? I’d eat more vegetables? I’d eat less prepared food? The worst thing that could happen was that nothing would change, and I’d be no worse off than I was before.   By day 4, I was already feeling better. My most annoying health issues were already starting to subside.

Here are the things that I miss from my gluten lifestyle:

Craft beer.  I was well on my way to being a craft beer snob. . .  and i guess that career has gone out the window.  But I’m drinking a glass of white wine as I’m writing this, so life is not all bad.

Cake.  My husband and I have a tradition of buying single cake slices (but only from these two particular bakeries!!!) and sharing the slice of cake. Last time he brought a slice home, I said “you get to eat the whole thing”.

 

Here are the things that I don’t miss:

Being bloated all the time.  I was popping gas-x pills like they were candy. I was buying pants another size up. Sitting was uncomfortable.  I couldn’t find anything that would make the bloat go away except waiting it out, however many hours or days it took. I looked pregnant. My belly was so distended with bloat that it was pressing on my bladder, making me feel like I had to pee all the time.  TMI:  so I’d go to pee, and felt like I really, really had to pee, and i couldn’t pee.  The bloating went away, and now my bladder seems happy and normal.

Being hangry.  I’d eat something, even something low carb, and two hours later I’d be ravenously angry-hungry.  I’d spend hours each day counting down the minutes to my next meal, having a snack on the commute home from work, having a snack the moment I walked in the door. I was already on a high protein low carb diet, why was I ravenously hungry all the time? I remember being out with my Dad, and we were trying to decide where to eat and no one wanted to make a decision, and I was like “I need to eat really, really soon. I don’t care if I eat McDonalds, but I need to eat”.  I’d be so hungry I couldn’t think straight, and it had only been 3-4 hours since my last meal.   I don’t miss that.  Sure, I get hungry, but it is a normal  “When’s dinner?” rather than hanger.

Adult Acne:  I have tried everything in the world to get rid of my zits. I also really love it when people innocently ask me “well, have you tried washing your face?”, as if that had never once occurred to me.  or they say “zits make you look young!”.  I am nearly 40, I have zero interest in looking like a zitty teenager. I still have a few zits, but they aren’t the giant whiteheads I had before, and they seem to go away faster.  Still using witch hazel, but not as often.

When I tell me people that I’ve gone gluten free, they inevitably ask me these same questions:

don’t you miss bread? Have you seen all the gluten free breads at the store? No, I don’t miss bread. I’ve been on a low-carb lifestyle for years, and anytime I had bread or pizza I paid for it afterwards. I equate bread with feeling yucky, so no, I don’t miss it. and no, I’m not really interested in gluten free bread because of the connotation my brain makes with bread products in general.

Are you allergic to wheat? Nope.  my insides just don’t seem to like gluten.

have you lost any weight?  1 pound. Not really looking to lose weight, just want to feel less like shit and more like a person.

 

Game 2: Stardew Valley, Winter year 1

My first run through of Stardew Valley, i had no idea what I was doing. Didn’t realize all the spiffs you get from completing stuff in the Community Center, didn’t realize the point of the game is to get cut scenes with characters and to get those you have to interact with people in the first place, and do that, I shouldn’t be an introverted farmer for weeks at a time. I decided my “victory condition” would be to have a million gold. When I got there, I’d start a new game and do everything differently.

I’m in Winter of year 1 of game 2, and i’m at eight hearts with Shane and Harvey.   I want to know about that radio set in Harvey’s bedroom, but other than that he’s boring. When it comes down to it, i think Shane will get the pendant. Seems like his life would actually improve if we hooked up, you know?  He could quit his miserable job at JoJoMart, not have to rent a room from his Aunt. is that bad, that I’m choosing  a relationship because it would help make the other person’s life better? Am I falling for the “he’s a bird with a broken wing, I can fix him” thing?  Shane doesn’t have a broken wing, I don’t plan to fix him, or change him. I just want him to know that my farm is judgement free zone. And he can still work at Marnie’s farm if he wants.  I don’t have any of those complicated feelings with Harvey, his life would not improve if he lived with me. All I want from Harvey is to know what he does with that radio set!!

but let’s talk money.  It’s Winter year 1, and I have like 35K gold. That isn’t really a lot.  Here’s the thing – the point of this game is to make friends, interact with people, give people gifts (gems, fruit, jams, food, artisan goods) on their birthday.  Harvey likes anything that is gold star level (even forage!), and Shane likes beer and prepared foods, his favorite food is Pepper Poppers, but i bet he’ll like Pizza too.  All the stuff my farm creates, I can either sell it (yeah money!!), give it away as gifts (yeah friends!), or a combination of the two.

My first game, I went the money route. Hoarding money and selling everything I made, meant it took much, much longer to make friends. This game, I’m going to friends route.  In this game, you can always, always make more money, it’s just a matter of how long it’s gonna take. So, which do I want quicker, friends or money?

IRL, my husband bought me a SPF hoodie for my birthday, I love it. it looks like a fancy windbreaker.  My sister is very pale complected, so I mentioned the hoodie to her, her response was that it was too pricey to invest in.

Was the hoodie “pricey”?  maybe. Am I getting way more happiness out of it than the cost in dollars? yup.  Hoodie = Stardew Valley artisan good. Buying the hoodie gives me tons of happiness value.  Not buying the hoodie, the money is in my bank account still, but it’s just sitting there not doing anything, and I’m out all that happiness value.

June Wrap Up Post

It might feel like I’m living in a volcano, but it’s only the end of June, can you believe it? we’re in the midst of a midwest heat wave,  my city is under a heat advisory, they are opening fire hydrants and telling everyone to check on their elderly neighbors.

I’ve been having fun with quick picked everything lately,  even ended up with these gorgeous ombre picked onions and radishes!

 

I started a new game of Stardew Valley recently.   I was getting a little bored of my old game, wasn’t interested in raising animals, and once you start growing starfruit and rare seeds in your greenhouse and use your seed machine, you basically break the game.  Once I hit a million spacebucks, it was time to start a new game.  I married Elliott, we never had any kids, and he loved living on the farm. He’d usually be up before me, he’d help a little on the farm, he’d sometimes make coffee, he didn’t mind that our relationship was quiet. He authentically seemed pleased to be with me.

For my new game, I opted for the Hilltop Farm (it is huge! I love it!), and I decided i was going to try for a relationship with either Shane or Harvey (because WTF is up with that radio set in Harvey’s bedroom!!!).  Since Harvey is hardly ever around and Shane is a lot easier to locate, it’s summer of year 1 and I’m already at 3 hearts with Shane.

How to get Shane to be friends with you? EASY.  Buy beer from Gus and gift it to Shane. If the Fri/Sun wagon guy sells Pepper poppers, BUY THEM, because Shane will eventually give you the recipe and hope you can make it and share it with him.

And, I got the first cutscene with Shane! #Dying

 

I want Shane to come live with me on the farm.  Everything on the farm is successful, even if a crow eats your plants you still succeed.

What I love about Stardew Valley is that everything is the right decision, and people I befriend authentically enjoy spending time with me.  And I want to be able to give that experience to Shane.

I will expand my house so I have a kitchen, always have the ingredients for Pepper Poppers on hand, and we’ll eat pepper poppers till the cows come home.  I’m a happy farmer. I want to give that happiness to Shane, however much he’ll let me.

Pickled Onions should not taste this good!

I’ve been getting into pickling lately. Not canning rig, dip jars into boiling water pickling, but quick fridge pickles.  a brine on the stove takes 15 (or less!) minutes, you cram everything into a mason jar, and two days to a week later you have something delicious.

My favorite pickles are done with rice vinegar, it is sweeter, less harsh, and more forgiving than standard American white vinegar. But about a month ago, I was looking for a Passover friendly fridge pickle, something that wasn’t made with rice vinegar, something that would go good with gefilte fish, something really delicious, something that didn’t require me to purchase obscure ingredients.  I came across this pickled onion recipe from Smitten Kitchen. (oh, you don’t know Smitten Kitchen? She has a cookbook out, which you should buy, right now).

 

Anyway, the onions.  They came together in less than 5 minutes, and were good with everything I put them on. Gefilte fish + these pickled onions + horseradish? So heavenly I’m headed back to the grocery store to buy the leftover jars of gefilte fish that are  now on clearance.  Rice topped with a fried egg and these pickled onions?  Why didn’t someone tell me breakfast could be so good? (yes, I eat eggs and rice for breakfast).  These pickled onions on burgers, meatballs, and anything else I can think of? Sign. Me. Up.  Smitten Kitchen recommends them on tacos, which sounds divine!

I made a few tweaks to the Smitten Kitchen recipe to match what I had and my tastes (I didn’t have a red onion so I used white, I let them sit in the fridge a little longer, etc).  That’s the wonderful thing about quick pickle recipes, you can adapt them to suit your tastes and what’s sitting around your house.

Pickled Onions, adapted from Smitten Kitchen.  Makes 1  Jar of pickles.

1 large white onion, sliced thin and pieces separated

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup water plus some more to top off the jar

2 tsp sugar

mounded half tbsp coarse salt

Stir water, vinegar, salt, and sugar until salt and sugar have mostly dissolved (I guess you could put it all in the mason jar, screw the lid on tight and shake it up like you’re making salad dressing or bullet proof coffee? saves you a bowl to clean!).  Cram onion pieces into jar, pour brine over. top off with water. Screw lid down tightly,  put in refrigerator. your pickles are ready to eat in 1 week, and will last in the fridge for about a month.

People hear “pickled onions” and think it’s going to be onion-y, and overly vinegar-y, and these are neither of those things.  the onions mellow out, the sugar does its magical thang, and because of these pickles I want to get invited to a million summer barbecue parties just so I can bring a jar to every table.

Yeah Passover!

Passover is my favorite holiday.  It’s like spring break for me.  I love cooking, I love pulling out recipes we only make once a year, I love the planning, i just love Passover!

Passover is funny, because every family has their own traditions, what rules they will bend, what rules they ignore, and what rules they won’t ever break, no matter what.  Depending on how observant you are, and what your families traditions are, some rules are “rules”, others are “traditions”, others are “guidelines”.

more like guidelines than rules

The traditions I grew up with were “don’t be obvious or blatant that you are breaking Passover”.  I use store bought mayonnaise.  I use powdered sugar which usually contains a small quantity of corn starch. I use ketchup, which very likely contains corn syrup. We have Pepsi in the house, also usually with corn syrup. I use plenty of store bought stuff that surely contains forbidden ingredients, but isn’t walking around screaming “Look at me! I’m full of stuff you’re not supposed to eat!”. I categorize all that stuff as “not blatant”.  I’m sure some Jews are reading this right now and clutching their pearls. That’s cool.  Like I said, every family’s traditions are different.

 

Last year, a rabbinic ruling came out stating that “kitniyot” (beans, rice, a bunch of other previously forbidden stuff), was now okay to eat.  So I can have corn tortillas and beans and rice for Passover?  So, here’s the thing.  I eat a mostly gluten free diet as it is. If beans, rice, corn, etc are OK for Passover, how is this week any different from the rest of the year? what, i don’t eat oatmeal for one whole week?  I like the specialness of Passover. I appreciate the extra meal planning. It’s spring break from junk food, in a way. All that to say that I’m not ready to start blatantly eating kitniyot.  Next year at Taco Bell?

 

anyways, here is an incomplete list of all the delicious things I’ll be stuffing into my face during Passover, because getting to eat all this delicious stuff qualifies as a holiday!

meatballs (omg, so many meatballs!)

schnitzel with lemon caper sauce

egg salad

carrot and olive salad

frittata with home made fermented pepper sauce

smashed potatoes with leek sauce

Citrus chicken

Potato Skins

Zucchini Gratin

flax crackers

Matzah bark

chocolate truffles

chocolate walnut cookies

almond cookies

Rainbow Chard with Ginger

Cardamom Apple Cake

Spinach and Cheese Dumplings

Sweet potato and Apple casserole

Sweet potato, pear, and pecan casserole

fruit and nut stuffed turkey

Matzoh Ball Soup

Turkey Burgers

Pickled Onions

 

Citrus Chicken

You ever get halfway through a recipe and realize you are missing an ingredient? Or cross your fingers and hope an ingredient swap will actually work??   Happens to me ALL the time.  I improvise, and move on with my life.

We were supposed to be making Orange flavored chicken wings.  Didn’t have wings, had thighs. Couldn’t finish them in the oven as the recipe instructed because something else was in the oven, so cooked them fully on the stove. Didn’t have enough orange zest to make a 2nd batch of sauce, so used dried lemon peel. We botched neatly every ingredient, every step, and every instruction.  And it was one of the best dinner’s we’d had in a while.

I give you Citrus Chicken, which I’ll bet turned out better than the original recipe for whatever it was we thought we were making:

3-4 tsp oil

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

salt and pepper

½ tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground coriander

4 shallots, minced

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 cup orange juice

grated zest of one orange, or 1 tsp dried lemon peel, or any combination of the two

1 cup chicken broth, or water, or white wine, or any combination of those

optional – chopped fresh herbs to garnish, such as fresh parsley, cilantro, or mint

heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a large non-stick pan and brown the chicken thighs, in two batches. As they are browning, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle cinnamon and coriander over top.

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In a saucepan, saute the shallots in 1 tbsp oil. After two minutes, add the garlic, and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the orange juice and the citrus zest. If there is any available chicken fat in the pan you are cooking the thighs in, add that to the sauce. Add the broth/water/wine (I usually use mostly broth and a big splash of wine), and bring the sauce to a boil. Boil over medium or medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked down to a sauce-like consistency. Stir often, when you stir and the bottom of the pot doesn’t cover over with sauce immediately, it is getting close to being done.

Serve the chicken thighs smothered with the sauce.