Save Some Room for Pie

I have to say this, as my first gluten-free holiday season winds down, at least I don't feel like I've overindulged. Well, not too much, anyway.  

Now, I  haven't exactly been the social butterfly I've been in years past, but still. Instead of worrying about eating too much at parties, I'm wondering whether I can eat...

But if anything this season has been an indulgence, it's been the sweet potato pie. Keep your pumpkin pie if you like. I'll take the sweet potato pie any day. Mike even thinks it tastes better than pumpkin pie. And he likes just about everything.

The cookie crust is a revelation, if I do say so myself. At Christmas dinner, my dad declared, "I don't even like pie crust. But this is good." You can use any kind of gluten-free cookie you like (or regular cookies, if gluten-free isn't a concern), but I like to use a blend of gluten-free gingersnaps and honey-graham cookies.

We had this pie for Thanksgiving. We had it on Christmas day. And we'll be having it again on New Year's Eve. An indulgence, indeed.

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Pie

For the Crust:
  • 2 cups crumbs from gluten-free cookies (I use these and these)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Combine all ingredients until well mixed. Press into a 9" pie pan so the mixture covers the bottom, and pinch up the sides. You can press the mixture down with the tines of a fork too.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-10 minutes, being careful not to burn. (My rule is that it's done when it starts to smell good.)

For the Pie:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 9" pie crust
Beat together eggs, sugar, and sweet potato. Add milk, cream, butter, and vanilla. Pour into the crust and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for 30 more minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve cold.

What Did I Eat?

Some gluten-free folks cheat. Not me. Sure, sometimes the smell of freshly baked bread, or pizza, or beer makes me wistful. But I know what would happen if I cheated. So I don't.

But sometimes, gluten finds me, no matter what I do to keep it out of my life. Yesterday I had fruits, veggies, cheese, and bacon. Both the cheese and the bacon were brands I know I can trust. Then I made boeuf bourgignon, again with ingredients I know I can trust. 

So why did my stomach hurt last night? Why did I feel bloated? Why is this morning miserable? What did I eat?

When life gives you kale... make kale juice.

Yesterday was oh-so-much-better than the day before. It probably helped that I was out and about, but it definitely helped that I had my morning coffee. The whole juice diet probably does work better without any coffee (especially when the coffee comes with milk and sugar), but it doesn't work at all if you can't follow it, now does it?

Despite the three glasses of "grape juice" of the fermented kind last night at a birthday party, the scale is starting to notice this little project. Not that that was a major goal of this experiment - it's more about feeling healthy and getting enough nutrients - but it would be nice to lose those last few pounds.

Today is theoretically the last day of my juicing experiment, but I think I'll keep going for a while. I'm in between projects at work right now, so it's a little easier to manage the whole juicing thing when I don't have to tote bottles of juice all over the city. And I'm sure my body can benefit from more nutrients.

Juicey Goosey

Yesterday, I didn't drink any coffee. Instead, I started the day with hot lemon water, followed by carrot-ginger-apple juice. Both tasted surprisingly good.

Then there was the "mean green," juice from kale, celery, lime, and a bunch of other things I can't remember right this second. That was ok...

And then, there was the "gazpacho juice." Celery, tomatoes, bell pepper, and a quarter of an onion. That one I poured down the drain. It tasted like raw onion and nothing else.  And around that time, I got a splitting headache, which was probably caffeine withdrawals.

For dinner, we had a salad. Solid food. And it was good. I made it the whole day without grains, alcohol or caffeine, but I did succumb to the ice cream (dairy and sugar) after dinner.

Today, I'm drinking my coffee as I write this. I don't think I can manage three whole days of just juice, especially when there's no caffeine. And dinner doesn't seem to be going away, although I'm making a point of making them healthy dinners based primarily on veggies.

It's still too early to say how good I feel, but I do feel lighter, maybe a little less bloated.

Oh Hey!

How long has it been?

I know, I know. When last I left off, I was tying up a cookbook kick, reading cookbooks like there's no tomorrow. I still love cookbooks (always have, always will), but I'm on to a new kick.

Remember that Happiness Project? That sort of fell by the wayside too. I'm still very interested in doing one, but it wasn't the easiest thing to fall into the habit. For now, I'm focusing on being mindful of my mood. Maybe another Happiness Project will surface later on.

What I'm really doing right now is trying to plan a wedding (gluten-free) on a budget, from halfway across the country. Without going crazy. Sounds like fun, right?

Add holiday craziness to wedding planning craziness, and most days I'm just beat. I know I'm not getting enough fruits and vegetables (especially the vegetables). Maybe what's even sadder is that I eat more fruits and veggies than the average American, but I still don't get enough. How does that happen?

Anyways, I had toyed with the idea of doing a Whole30, but I just couldn't get behind it. No dairy for 30 days? No sugar? No alcohol? No way. But then yesterday, I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. One of my professors had raved about it and her juice diet while I was in law school. I thought it was interesting but never got around to looking into it.

Well. The film is fascinating. Of course I know you can change your life with food. I've done it. But the results these people have had are incredible. I especially like that the program lets you choose the iteration that's right for you (three days, ten days, etc.). And I noticed something as I watched the film - nowhere do they mention it, but this diet is also gluten-free. Unless you go adding wheatgrass (I know some folks say it's gluten-free, but I'm not taking my chances), the whole diet is not only gluten-free, but grain-free as well. And grains, be they gluten-free or no, seem to be our biggest downfall. It's cultural, it's taste, it's something that keeps bringing us back.

I'm starting with a three-day juice fast, but if it goes well, I might just go for a full ten days. Hopefully I'll remember to let you know how it goes.

Weekly Meal Plan (If There Is One)

I know I keep saying I'm so busy and yada, yada, yada. I am, in fact, busy, and I'm so grateful to have a job, however temporary, that pulls me away from this blog, which is a labor of love.

The meal plan this week is simply getting as much ready for Thanksgiving dinner as I possibly can. Dinner will most likely be trimmings from that cooking or eggs on toast or tuna fish sandwiches.

I'm not expecting to get much cooking done today, as another big thing has dramatically changed my schedule. Mike took me to Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon this weekend for a "surprise" anniversary trip. I use quotation marks because I knew where we were going and what the occasion was, but the real surprise was the place he picked to propose-at an overlook of a series of waterfalls. It couldn't have been more perfect.

Odin's Snow Ballet

Odie's quickly closing in on six months of age, and he is growing up to be a very good puppy. We've learned that one of the secrets to having a happy puppy is lots of playtime. We've also learned that he loves snow. He seems to love everything about it, and it is so much fun to watch him bounding through the snow after his frisbee.

Last weekend, it practically snowed for three days straight. In a lull, we took Odie to a ballpark to really let him loose. He had a fantastic time:

Weekly Meal Plan

I'm in almost over my head - figuratively and literally. I've been working, which really seems to take it out of me, but we're under about two feet of snow right now. (Remind me again why I moved to Utah?) Snow is...not my favorite thing. But Odie loves it. He also loves his new frisbee, and it was a lot of fun to watch him bounding through the snow after it.

I'm only planning four meals this week, because there's a top-secret thing going on this week... 

So this week's meals are super simple, and work mostly with what I already have in the fridge and freezer. I basically only bought broccoli and food for breakfasts and lunches at the store this week. It all starts with ribs...

Meal One: 

Oven-baked BBQ ribs with broccoli and biscuits

Meal Two:

Stir-fry with leftover beef, broccoli, and bell peppers from the freezer. Served over rice.

Meal Three:

Soup with leftover beef.

Meal Four:

I'll be in the kitchen today cooking the ribs, broccoli, biscuits, and rice. Everything else should whip up easily during the week. Happy eating!

What I'm Reading

If you need a good reason to vote next time around...(also, very disappointed about prob 37, even though I don't live in CA)

Fitting for my first major holiday gluten free, but enough with the pumpkins

Still working on this one...

Stop Reading. Go Vote.

I'm on my way to go vote. I hope you are too (or you've already done it). I could say it doesn't matter who you vote for as long as you actually vote, but I'd be lying. It does matter who you vote for. But you have to actually go and do it!

Stop reading! Go vote!

Weekly Meal Plan

As seen a couple of years ago in NYC. Life is also too short to eat "pretty good" food.

These days, I'm all about easy food. But that doesn't mean I've lowered the bar at all. I'm so glad to be working (finally!), and even though it's on a contract basis, meaning I only have a job when they have a project for me to work on, I'm really happy to be doing something. The only downside - if there is one - is that I get home a little bit too tired to whip up a complicated meal. Unless everything's already been done, that is.

So I've been spending most of my day on Sunday puttering away in the kitchen - sauteeing onions, braising meat, peeling carrots, steaming green beans - all in an effort to make my weeknights that much easier. And it works like a dream. Dinner never takes too long, and there are even less dishes to do, so we can get on to enjoying the rest of our evening.

This week is no different. Here's the menu:

  • Soup with beans, sausage and spinach
    • There's no prep needed for this one - I did all the prep work last week. But the prep would be soaking and cooking beans, and sauteeing sausage and onions (and whatever other vegetables you want). I'll just thaw out some broth, throw it all together, simmer, then add the spinach.
  • Chili-mac salad
    • Prep: saute onions and bell peppers, and brown the meat. When I'm feeling super-organized, I'll also shred the cheese, then toss it with some cornstarch (or potato, or tapioca) to keep it from sticking. You could also make the dressing ahead of time and then refrigerate it.
  • Spaghetti
    • This one's super easy. We usually have spaghetti with meat sauce. I make the sauce ahead of time (from scratch), using tomatoes I put up earlier in the summer and about half the meat (before it's been seasoned) from the chili-mac salad.
  • Bouef bourgignon
    • This one takes all day to make. Luckily, I have some in the freezer. Cheating? Maybe. But that's what freezer meals are for, right?

  • Creamy cajun shrimp pasta
    • This one's so quick, there's really not much prep work to do. I just cook some pasta, sear some shrimp in cajun seasoning, and saute roasted bell peppers with some onions, add some cream, and throw it all together.

Food News and Other Things

What a week. My home, Virginia, which typically takes the brunt of many hurricanes, was blissfully spared from this one. (My other home, Central Appalachia, got a blizzard that put a lot of people out of power and water, but the damage was nothing compared to New Jersey and New York.)  We were high and dry the whole time (in our new home, Utah), but we've watched this week's incredible scenes unfold just the same.

Please take the time to donate to the Red Cross. Always a good cause, always tax deductible, and right now  working around the clock to help people devastated by the storm. 

On a lighter note, some interesting things in the news this week:

Celiac might be influenced by the season of birth

My Happiness Project

I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin several weeks ago, and have been planning my own happiness project ever since. It's that kind of book - the kind that you can't put down, that gets you thinking, that's really worth a read.

What is a happiness project? Basically, it's reflecting on what makes you happy, joyful, anxious, and sad, then making concrete resolutions to make yourself more happy and less sad/mad/etc., then following through on those resolutions.  It sounds simple, but if you really want to see some big changes, it takes a lot of work. As Rubin repeats throughout the book, "Happiness doesn't always make you happy."

Comfort Food: Mac and Cheese

I usually try to eat healthy - you know, by eating fruits, veggies, limiting sugar, and all that. But sometimes, you need some good ol' comfort food like Grandma used to make for Sunday dinner. Macaroni and cheese is one of those things for me, and I always prided myself on my ability to whip up amazing macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Then I went gluten-free, and all of that went out the window. When you're living gluten-free, pasta is not pasta is not pasta. There are some types of noodles that work o.k. for some things, and some that work o.k. for others. There are stunningly few types of gluten-free pasta that are actually good. And even fewer that can stand up to boiling, then baking for thirty minutes in the oven. And even fewer that can handle being reheated as leftovers. Maybe I have unreasonable expectations, but I want those comfort food calories to be worth it!

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween, and life is business as usual around our house. We don't have kids (or even any small relatives nearby) to take trick-or-treating, and we're not the party type. Halloween seems like a really big deal here in Utah. Maybe it's all the kids, but it seems like a bigger deal to these kids (and grownups) than it was to me when I was a kid. I ought to have some pictures of some of the crazy things I've seen lately (since Halloween seems to last all month here), but they've simply escaped my camera.

So whatever your plans are tonight, stay safe and have fun!

Weekly Meal Plan: Lamb

I bought a leg of lamb at the grocery store this weekend. I had been hoping to re-do the pork shoulder of a couple weeks ago to perfect my barbecue technique, but alas, the grocery store was fresh out of pork shoulder.

Yesterday, I close-roasted the lamb. Close-roasting is a technique that's great for all kinds of meats. It's simply cooking the meat in a covered dish at a very low temperature for a very long time. I usually add in some cooking liquid and whatever herbs strike my fancy. For the lamb, I brined it overnight in a solution of two quarts water, half a cup of sugar, and a cup of salt. In the morning, I patted it dry, seared it in a little bit of olive oil, poured in some vinegar and Jack Daniels, then added some thyme, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and about ten peeled cloves of garlic. I roasted it in a covered Dutch oven for about 7 hours at 200 degrees Farenheit.  The results were amazing, and will be the foundation of our meals this week.


  • Lamb with wine reduction, green beans, and toast


  • Enchiladas with mushrooms and leftover lamb


  • 24 hour "omelette" (more like a casserole)


  • Chorizo, chickpea, and spinach soup (using the broth leftover from cooking the lamb)


  • Pizza


  • Gnocchi with mushrooms, lamb, and cream sauce

This Week at the Wheeler Farm Farmer's Market

Today was the last day of the Wasatch Front Farmer's Market. Lots of vendors were having customer appreciation sales, so I got a lot of bang for my buck this week.


I've been off the radar recently, letting the blog run more or less on autopilot.  But that doesn't mean I've been running on autopilot. I've been doing professional training, seeking a professional mentor, and starting at a new job (it's a contract deal - project-by-project, but it's been keeping me busy). That's not all. There's cooking and eating and taking care of the puppy. There's keeping the apartment more or less together, dishes...the list goes on. Life goes on.

In Search of the Perfect Coleslaw

I live in Utah. Not much in the way of coleslaw in the grocery stores here, not even in the summertime. If there's anything at all, there's the mysterious lime green glop in the plastic containers. Ick.

I consider myself somewhat of a coleslaw connoisseur. It should be sweet and tangy. I prefer a mayonnaise-based sauce. I like raisins, but they're not a dealbreaker. There should be onions, but not too many. The cabbage should be shredded thin, but not chopped so fine that it falls through your fork and you have to eat it with a spoon.

Since I couldn't find the perfect coleslaw recipe, I cobbled together one of my own. This sauce is so delicious...but I won't actually admit to eating it with a spoon. That would be gross. The coleslaw pairs perfectly with the barbeque of your choice.


  • 1 small head cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 1/4 c raisins
  • 3/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3 egg yolks, broken
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 t celery seed
  • 1/4 t dried ground mustard

Combine cabbage onion, carrots, and raisins in a large bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, egg yolks and butter. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until thickened and slightly syrupy. Cool. Strain if necessary.

Once the vinegar mixture has cooled, add the mayonnaise, cream, celery seed, and mustard. Stir to combine.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

GF 101: Traveling Gluten Free

Traveling can be stressful. There are planes to catch, delays, unexpected gate changes, rental cars to pick  up, and hotels to find. Add diet restrictions to the mix, and travel can be overwhelming. But with a little bit of planning, it doesn't have to be.

Weekly Meal Plan

This week, I'm trying to be a little healthier - cutting back on the sugar, getting a little bit more exercise, getting out in the sun, and getting plenty of sleep. But the dinners this week are all about comfort food. And, since I started a new job (!) that keeps me busy, they have to be pretty quick to assemble too (I already spent a good part of the day yesterday prepping). 

  • Chili

  • Crabcakes with stuffed mushrooms and green beans

  • Mushroom Pad Thai

  • Potato-bacon-corn salad

  • Frittata

This Week at the Wheeler Farm Farmer's Market

Can you tell the market is winding down? After today, there's only one week left. My pantry and freezer are stuffed with corn, beef, tomatoes, onions, and peppers to last me (at least part of the way) through the winter. Today was just about this week - beef for chili, and apples and carrots for my lunches this week.

I have a new job (!), so I don't have as much time to spend in the kitchen - or on the blog - as I have all summer. Today looked like this:

since I premade as much as I could for this week's dinners. Come by tomorrow to see what's on the menu!

Update: Rice-Free Flaxseed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Does the news about arsenic in rice have you reconsidering your rice consumption? I know it threw me for a loop.  As someone who eats gluten-free, I eat a lot of rice - rice pasta, rice as a side dish, and rice in my favorite baked goods. That's a lot of rice, and potentially a lot of arsenic.

I had already been considering the need for broadening my gluten-free grain horizons before the news about arsenic in rice came out, but this was the push I needed to really step back and reconsider what I'm eating.

Luckily, my English muffin recipe is already rice free - it has sorghum flour, teff flour, and potato starch. But my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe has a whole cupful of brown rice flour.

Like so many others, I have been using brown rice as a substitute for white rice because I thought it was healthier. But it turns out that brown rice actually tends to have more arsenic than white rice. 

So, I resolved to modify my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I'm not giving up rice forever, but I am trying to reserve my rice consumption for pasta and actual whole-grain rice. I've edited the original recipe to show the modifications, but to save you the trouble, I'm also publishing the rice-free version here.

I've simply replaced the rice with amaranth. Why amaranth? The easy answer is that I had some lying around but hadn't tried it yet. But there's a better reason.  It turns out amaranth is a nutritional powerhouse  - it is higher in protein than any other gluten-free grain (and even higher in protein than wheat), it's high in lysine, an important amino acid, it's high in calcium, magnesium, and fiber, and may even help lower cholesterol. 

These cookies are still absolutely delicious. They do spread out a bit more, and they need about a minute less in the oven. They're a little bit crispier, but in a chewy-delicious way.

Amaranth-Flaxseed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 1/2 - 4 dozen
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c amaranth flour (120 g)
  • 3/4 c potato starch (130 g)
  • 3/4 c sorghum flour (100 g)
  • 1/4 c flaxseed meal (25 g)
  • 1 T psyllium husks
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 10 oz chocolate chunks (I use these)

Beat butter, shortening, and sugars until thoroughly combined. Add eggs and vanilla, then mix until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips), then mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for at least two hours, but preferably overnight. You can divide the dough into thirds, shape into logs, and cover with plastic wrap to have slice and bake cookies once they are chilled...or you could just cover the dough and stick it in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

Shape dough into 1 1/2  inch balls,then flatten slightly between your hands. Place at least three inches apart on baking sheets, and bake 10-11 minutes. Let cool at least a minute on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

I store these in the freezer or refrigerator; they do tend to get dry if left at room temperature more than three or four days.

GF 101: 10 Tips for Ordering Gluten-Free Food at Restaurants

You've been to the doctor. You've gone gluten-free. You've learned what you can eat. You've even learned a little bit about how to cook all over again, or for the first time. And now you might be thinking, I'll never eat in a restaurant again. 

Gluten Free Expo

On Saturday we went to the Gluten Free Expo at the South Towne Expo Center.  We had quite the good time tasting goodies and picking up free samples. It's so nice to get to try something before buying it - especially when it's gluten-free, and expensive to boot.

Besides seeing some old favorites, I found some new products that I'm definitely looking forward to. Like pancake mix that is so good we might be eating pancakes for a week. And another (pretty darn good) gluten-free beer - which has me pretty thrilled because I live in Utah, where any old beer is hard to come by, and gluten-free beer is even harder to find.

Weekly Meal Plan

Last week’s plan to get everything cooked ahead of time worked really well…except we had to fly back East, so a lot of it went uneaten. The last few days have been all about salvaging leftovers and eating what was supposed to be dinner last week for every meal imaginable.  This week should be a little bit more predictable, but with the result that I haven’t cooked much in advance.

  •  French Onion Soup
  • Using farmer's market onions, and beef broth left over from the beouf bourgignon last week

  • BBQ (from a braised pork shoulder), coleslaw, and macaroni and cheese

  • Corn pudding
  • Using farmer's market onions, and leftover corn from the freezer


  • Pizza
  • Using farmer's market bell peppers

This Week at the Wheeler Farm Farmer's Market

Getting going a little late today (tonight). But I did manage to make it to the market, and had a good time to boot.

Here's what I got:

  • Handmade notecards (2)
  • Soap
  • Carrots
  • Scallions
  • Tons of Garlic
  • Onions
  • Pearl Onions
  • Sunchokes
  • Gluten-free bread
  • Peppers
  • Honeycrisp Apples (easily my favorite)
  • The LAST of the Heirloom Tomatoes this season
  • Thyme

Total Cost: About $55

Check back in the morning to see my grand plans for it all!

Under a pile of books

I've made my way through several books this week, and I have so much to say about all of them. But life has been quite hectic, despite (or in spite of) my decision to look for peace this week. So I'll just leave you with Odie, who loves a good book just as much as I do.

Gluten Free Morning at City Cakes Cafe

Earlier this year, I mourned the loss of my Starbucks routine. A cup of coffee, a scone, and peoplewatching had always been the perfect companion for a few hours of writing and reading. But I was newly gluten free, and the milk in Starbucks' coffee was giving me abdominal cramps. Plus the idea of trading my scone for a Kind Bar was less than appealing. No offense if you love Kind Bars-they were just a pale substitute for coffee and a scone. Last but definitely not least, I felt like gluteny crumbs lurked in every corner, making me feel paranoid at best.

So I sat in my kitchen, in front of the computer, or on the patio when I had my coffee. I haven't been a frequent flyer at Starbucks since high school, but I still missed the ambiance, the experience, the option.

GF 101: Seven Ways to Find Great Gluten Free Restaurants

You've seen a doctor. You've learned how to figure out what is (and is not) gluten free. You're cooking up a storm, and feeling great to boot.

But some evenings, you just want to kick back and let someone else do the cooking. Where do you start?

Later on, I'll talk about some techniques for ordering gluten-free, especially at places that don't have a gluten free menu. But the first step is really about getting comfortable with eating out while on a gluten free diet. And sometimes you just don't have the time or energy to double check every single thing. Never fear! There are restaurants where you can eat safely, where all you have to do is say "I'm gluten free" and the staff will do their best to make you feel safe.

Here's how to find them:

Belle Meade

I've been to Nashville before, but it was a three-day trip in the middle of the winter - much more suited to going downtown and seeing the sights there. But old houses are sort of my thing. This time was another three-day trip, with limited time for sightseeing. We did manage to go to Belle Meade.  May I recommend the wine? When you pay for a tour, you get free tastings at their winery. Some of the whites are pretty normal, but the reds are downright interesting. They have more fruit wines than I'd expected, and they actually tasted pretty darn good.

Weekly Meal Plan

I like it when life runs like a well-oiled machine. No surprises. Easy peasy. Tranquil.  But the reality is, life is just not like that - not for more than a day or two at least.

This Week at the Wheeler Farm Farmer's Market

The farmer's market is winding down - only a few more weeks to go. When I go to the market, it's easy to see why fall harvests are such a big deal - you can still get tomatoes, peppers, squash, and melons, but the cool season veggies are coming in too. So much to choose from! I might have splurged a little, but a lot of it is going to hang out in the freezer to help me not miss the market so much in the winter months.

Here's what I got:

Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

Creamy. Cheesy. Buttery. Amazing.

Do you know the gluten-free girl? You should. Her website has incredible food, mouthwatering photographs, and wonderful stories. And she has two great books, with another one on the way.

I'm a sucker for a cookbook with a story, and Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes is just that. When I first got this book, I couldn't put it down. Never mind that I was studying for the biggest test of my life. I just had to read every.single.word in this cookbook.  I followed Shauna (the gluten-free girl) and Danny (the Chef) as they told their stories about falling in love through food.

And the recipes. Oh boy. Get out your grocery list, because you'll want to make recipe after recipe after recipe from this book. I'm working my way through it, from veal stock to fresh gluten free pasta to crackers to creamless corn chowder. All absolutely delicious.

Last night, I made the baked eggs with taleggio. Oh. My. Mike approached it with a bit of trepidation, but he does love eggs. And when I told him there was a grand prize of cheese at the bottom, he dug right in and I didn't hear another word from him for the rest of the meal. That good. Every recipe is like that.

Breakfast for dinner - baked eggs with tallegio, bacon, and teff English muffins

Soy-Mirin Marinated Salmon

Ahh, salmon. This guy is lucky he even made it to my frying pan, because one of my favorite ways to eat salmon is raw, over the cutting board, drizzled with a little bit of mirin. But it was time for a good piece of cooked salmon. Wild caught. In season for just a little bit longer. Oh baby, talk to me about salmon.

My favorite thing about salmon is the way it melts in my mouth like butter. So for this recipe, I spared no expense with the fat - in the salmon, the croutons, the onions. And it was totally worth it.

The Master Gardener

Here's one of my feathered friends inspecting my vegetable garden. I love the ducks dearly, but they have a nasty habit of picking seeds out of my garden so what was a perfectly sowed row germinates nothing but dirt. I'm determined to have a fall and winter garden, though. Stay tuned to see how it turns out!

An Ode to Grilled Cheese

Nothing says comfort food like grilled cheese. To get the maximum amount of comfort-food-goodness, you need the real thing - real butter, real cheese, and good bread. 

This sandwich used about two ounces of the gluten free bread I buy at my farmer's market, a solid ounce of cheese, and half a tablespoon of butter. I don't bother trying to smear the butter on the bread anymore. It's a waste of time and I always end up with bread that's falling to pieces.

An Everlasting Meal

The Salt Lake City Public Library has something called the "Lucky Day Collection" - recent books that are highly sought after, and which can only be found by going to the library. They're not even listed in the library's online catalog. My mother the librarian (yes, really) thinks this is an incredible idea. And I like it because I know I can walk in the front door and find an absolute gem.

Gluten Free Dinner at Vinto

Vinto is easily one of my favorite restaurants in Salt Lake City. From salads, to pasta, to pizza, there's something for everyone. Including a full bar (I'm in love with their house red wine, which is $1 an ounce).

One of the best things about Vinto (besides the food and the wine, I'll get there, I promise) is the atmosphere. It's contemporary while still maintaining a traditional feel. The brick oven for the pizzas is visible from the dining room, and you can see piles of heirloom tomatoes at the pizza station. Yum.

GF 101: Part Two (The Food)

Okay, first things first. Take a deep breath. It’s a lot to take in. 

You've seen a doctor, right? If you don't see a doctor to get a diagnosis first, you may have to eat gluten for five whole weeks to get an accurate diagnosis. Trust me, once you go off gluten you won't want to go back. See the doc first

Okay. Ready?

Being GF often feels like a lonely hike through the wilderness...
but there are friends right around the corner, I promise!

Let’s start with what you can eat on a gluten free diet:


Last year, I grew potatoes in my garden. Plain ol' white taters. They were tasty, and prolific producers. But this year, I wanted something a little more exciting. And I was moving. So I tried what I'd been seeing all over the internet...gardening in a bag. I planted the potatoes in an old reusable grocery sack, which I then hauled across the country. The picture above is my entire harvest, but it's not bad considering all these guys have gone through. I'm thinking homemade french fries.

Weekly Meal Plan

Mike's away today and tomorrow, and we'll be going all over kingdom come at the end of the week, so there's no traditional meal plan this week. If you're wondering, I'll probably be eating farmer's market berries,  local cheese, and local salami for lunch, and cheesy rice for dinner. Since we'll be super busy and away from home later in the week, we'll be doing a lot of "dashboard dining," aka making sandwiches in the car for lunch and finding gluten free restaurants for dinner.

But in the meantime, I'm using my farmer's market apples to make applesauce and apple butter, and whipping up some flaxseed chocolate chip cookies and English muffins to take on the road with me!

This Week at the Wheeler Farm Farmer's Market

A light haul this week, metaphorically speaking. Not because there wasn't anything good at the market - there were a ton of mouthwatering goodies I would have loved to take home with me - but because we'll be headed to Nashville soon, and I didn't want to overstock the fridge.
Here's what I got:
  •  Apples
  • Assorted berries (strawberries, rasberries, and the last blackberries of the season)
  • Pearl onions
  • Gluten free pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins
Total Cost: About $25
Stay tuned to see what I'm planning on fixing this week!

Food and the City, by Jennifer Cockrall-King

"Don't ask me if at fifty dollars a square foot, can you justify an urban agriculture program in the city of Toronto. Ask me if at $100,000 a year per juvenile at a detention center, can we not pay for one urban-agriculture program instead?"
                                   -Wayne Roberts, as quoted in  Food and the City, p. 210.

When I started this blog, I knew it wasn't going to be all about gluten free life. There's other stuff I'm really passionate about, other stuff that also gets me out of bed in the morning, other stuff that deserves to be a part of the conversation on this blog.

Enter food politics.

While Food and the City by Jennifer Cockrall-King makes no real mention of this pesky thing you and I like to call "gluten," those of us who are gluten free  can benefit from joining the conversation about food insecurity and urban agriculture. My own farmer's market is very conscious of celiacs' needs, with several vendors each week who sell gluten free breads, cookies, sauces, flavored popcorn, and who will even put gourmet gluten free toppings on your gluten free pizza crust. If more of us join this conversation, maybe we can improve food security and  the availability of healthy options for those of us living the gluten free lifestyle. 

How would you like to be nine meals from anarchy? Unless you grow all of your own food, you probably are. (p. 30). You see, grocery stores only carry three days worth of fresh food - milk, eggs, meat, and produce. Cockrall-King points out that this system is fine, until it isn't. (p. 31). September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina are just two examples of when the three-day food supply became a huge problem. While the tragedies of these two events transcend the simple availability of food, it is important for us to remember that when we are dependent on food from far away, there is an inherent risk in our food security. 

When we live in peaceful suburbs, it's easy to forget that people struggle with food insecurity. But it's important to remember that it exists, often in our own backyards.  Even people in our neighborhoods may be struggling with food insecurity, due to unemployment or other financial difficulties. There are no national grocery chain stores in the city limits of Detroit. (245) How did that happen? In many other inner cities, it is several miles - a long bus ride - to the nearest grocery store. 

My urban herb garden this summer-thyme, rosemary, chives, and mint.
I also had tomatoes, bay leaf, radishes, and potatoes (not pictured).

This book does more than just highlight problems with food insecurity - it shows what real people are doing to solve it in cities around the world. Food and the City makes you wonder how we got so deep into this system without realizing the damage it does to the environment, to the economy, to our cultures. But at the same time, it makes you realize there's a feasible way out: urban agriculture. Without ripping out fountains and park benches, we can start using municipal land to grow food. Cities can do this by looking for spaces that are never utilized, like utility corridors, flood plains, and general green space. (225) We can use our own backyards, roofs, and windowsills to supplement our food supply. The impediments to the solution: the glacial pace of government (at federal, state, and local levels), agribusiness, and our own attitudes about what farming should look like. 

From LondonWaste, a green-waste collection program that diverts 45,000 metric tons of organic waste away from landfills yearly, to rooftop gardens, to Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) farming, to plans for using carbon dioxide emissions from kombucha to support plant growth in a vertical farm, Food and the City explores ways people around the world are already finding ways to solve food insecurity through urban agriculture. 

And when we all pitch in to solve food insecurity, strange things happen. Neighborhoods get nicer. At-risk teenagers get into less trouble. Drug dealers stop frequenting areas that have flowers and watchful eyes tending them. Urban blight starts to recede. Communities grow closer together. 

I have only one question. How can we afford not to join in this movement?

Flaxseed Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is nothing better than a gooey chocolate chip cookie straight out of the oven. Brownies, cupcakes, and other cookies all have a special place in my heart, but chocolate chip cookies are where it's at. Really.

Straight out of the oven. With lunch. Or dinner. I try to keep myself from eating them for breakfast, but I would be lying if I said I've never done it.

Even people who don't eat gluten free think these cookies are something special (Mike, my mother, and the most honest critic of all - my little brother).

I'll make other cookies and sweets from time to time, but these cookies are my go-to recipe. Always on hand. I start to worry if there are less than five in the house...they're that good.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 1/2 - 4 dozen

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c brown rice flour (158 g) (see note below)
  • 3/4 c potato starch (130 g)
  • 3/4 c sorghum flour (100 g)
  • 1/4 c flaxseed meal (25 g)
  • 1 T psyllium husks
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 10 oz chocolate chunks (I use these)

Beat butter, shortening, and sugars until thoroughly combined. Add eggs and vanilla, then mix until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips), then mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for at least two hours, but preferably overnight. You can divide the dough into thirds, shape into logs, and cover with plastic wrap to have slice and bake cookies once they are chilled...or you could just cover the dough and stick it in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

Shape dough into 1 1/2  inch balls,then flatten slightly between your hands. Place at least two inches apart on baking sheets, and bake 10-12 minutes. Let cool at least a minute on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

I store these in the freezer or refrigerator; they do tend to get dry if left at room temperature more than three or four days.

Nutrition estimate: 142 calories, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 91 mg sodium, 18 g total carbs, 1 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 1 g protein. (Using this website and assuming the recipe makes 42 cookies)

ETA: You can substitute amaranth for the rice flour if you wish.

GF 101: Part One (See a Doctor)

Think you might have celiac disease or gluten intolerance? You're in good company. Nearly two million Americans have celiac disease, and many more have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (maybe as many as six percent of American adults). So, where do you start?

You could start where I did - confused, picking up random books willy-nilly, relying on Google, and full of doubt. Let me tell you, it's not the best approach, unless you want to get frustrated, confused, and do more work than you need to.