Sunday, September 23, 2012

Alternative Flours and Mixes Angst

One perk for me going gluten-free is that, because of relatively limited finances, I don’t have the option to buy those expensive flours, flour blends, and mixes. Oh right. That’s not a “perk” per se, but the eating healthier because of it definitely is! I’m forced now to eat a lot more in the way of whole foods than I ever had before.

But every now and then I just get this craving for a brownie. I REALLY miss brownies.  I made these and they’re delicious, but they just aren’t the same (and almond flour or meal costs an arm and a leg).  This has resulted in me not eating brownies (my favorite food group --and yes, they qualify as a food group all on their own) for several months.

I reached my breaking point yesterday and decided to buy a gluten-free brownie mix when I was out grocery-shopping. Can I just say this: “WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE PRICES?” OK. Maybe a little bit of an over-reaction. I know that gluten-free alternatives are expensive. But really. Nine dollars for a cake or brownie mix? OK, so your flour mix works miracles, but if I can’t afford to buy it, let alone use it on a regular basis, it is useless to me.

In a haze of chocolate desperation, I broke down and dished out the $5 for the cheapest gluten-free brownie mix available and I tried it last night. But I’m not happy. I know that there are a lot of reasons that these items are so costly. Phrases like niche market, supply and demand, come to mind. I can afford to buy a couple extra cans of chickpeas. I cannot afford to buy Better Batter flour mixes. OK. I said it. I was really upset over the cost of Better Batter flour blend. Especially after hearing so much amazing stuff about it.

My go-to for treats is actually usually a Pinterest search for “paleo desserts”. I know the paleo diet gets a lot of flack, but they are definitely some of the best (and generally most affordable) recipes I’ve found out there for gluten-free desserts and treats. Especially when compared to the flour alternatives we’re working with now. If you follow my gluten-free board on Pinterest, you will see “paleo” recipes pop up on a regular basis. I’ve found several cookie and cake recipes that work really well by searching for paleo options. And I don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get the ingredients either.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Yes, they're gluten-free and, yes, they taste great!!

I based my recipe off of this fantastic recipe here, but I didn't have any regular gluten-free flour mix, so I decide to be inventive.

Preheat your oven at 450F.

I took four frozen chicken breasts and partially thawed them (I find still-slightly-frozen-chicken easier to chop up). After that, I cut them into just slightly-smaller-than-normal sizes for nuggets (think Chick-Fil-A sized nuggets).

In a large, Ziploc plastic bag, I combined equal parts chickpea flour and Parmesan cheese along with a combination of paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne. In all honesty, I added a little too much cayenne, but they're delicious. If you're not good with spicy, dial down or eliminate the cayenne all together.

Put the chicken in the plastic bag (if you're doing a lot like I was, this will have to be done in batches), seal the bag, and shake, coating all the pieces with the cheesy goodness.  After that, I spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and baked them for 15 minutes, flipped them and then backed for another seven.

The results? Spicy, super-moist, and really easy homemade chicken nuggets! This made enough for several meals and so far it looks like it reheats really well.

In hindsight: I had run out of parchment paper and foil, and that would've saved me a lot of trouble with the clean-up afterward.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pinterest Gave Me Hope

OK, as cheesy as it sounds, it's true. I'd been neglecting myself by not following a strict gluten-free regimen --and it was definitely showing, if we're to judge by the bouts of illness and exhaustion. So, when I started to seriously pursue a gluten-free lifestyle earlier this year, I turned to Pinterest.

I'd already been using Pinterest to track some of my favorite things: DIY ideas, my favorite color, favorite quotes, etc., so why not gluten-free recipes and ideas? Sure enough, this works! I now use Pinterest on an almost-daily basis to search for and track gluten-free recipes. 

My gluten-free board is a daily inspiration to me that gluten-free food does not have to be tasteless, crumbly, and depressing --in fact, quite the opposite!  I am a very visual person, so seeing amazing pictures of gluten-free food is a huge motivation for me to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.  Pinterest has given me: gluten-free crepes, cookies, entrees, desserts, and more.  Cheesy, but true!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sergio's Sarava - Shaker Square #CLE

How is it possible that I've lived in the Shaker Square area for over a year and never ventured into Sergio's Sarava? Oh. my. gosh. My mistake. BIG mistake.

Looking for a fun, but quick and simple happy hour, to celebrate some good news, a friend and I headed out to Shaker Square directly after work. There was some debate, but in the end Sarava won out and I'm so glad it did. Gluten-free, delicious, and did I mention gluten-free?

First off, the pao de queijo is amazing. According to the server, they make it with rice flour. I've made it with tapioca starch before, but I'm really liking the rice flour. If you've recently gone gluten-free and you're missing that lovely, elastic yeastiness, these would be a delicious gateway into other gluten-free options. My friend swore that she would never have been able to tell they were gluten-free if I hadn't asked.

Caiparinha and sangria in hand, we also tried out the beef churasco, empadas (her, not me), and the Prince Edward Island Mussels. All clean, uncluttered, and delicious dishes.

See below for a video on how to make pao de queijo.