I love food, as most of you know. There is something comforting about it- the entire process of shopping for ingredients, spending time in the kitchen using it to make meals for my family and friends, and then enjoying it at the table along with conversation and laughter. I love finding new recipes to try, but always enjoy making my tried and true favorites. Using my collection of cookbooks is wonderful but knowing the recipe by heart is also incredibly satisfying.
Lately, however, I have had a difficult time denying that something is affecting me and while I have some ideas, I have embarked on a journey into food exploration- more importantly how my body reacts to certain foods. Just over a week ago I removed wheat from my diet. Cold turkey. I haven’t had a stitch of it in 10 days. I will be honest – it is the first time in my entire life (except when I gave up french fries for Lent in 10th grade…) that I have stuck with anything having to do with food restriction. So, while it probably won’t surprise any of you who actually have some self-control that often one discovery leads to another, it definitely surprised me that I became so cranky. I mean, I didn’t give up coffee for goodness sake! I simply opted to not eat wheat. But after a few days I realized something. I am a snacker. I enjoy multiple small snacks throughout the day rather than big meals three times a day. And while this is fine, it seems that I had become more accustomed to snacking on things that had wheat – AND SUGAR – than I had realized. By removing the wheat, I also removed a large portion of my usual intake of sugar. And that, my friends, made me edgy (not to mention short with my kids and overall rather bitchy). Ten days later however I seem to be functioning far better and don’t feel so agitated, thank goodness.
The part of this process that worries me the most is that gap time between when I stopped eating wheat and the time when I really know “how to do it” – you know, baking, food options, etc… I look forward to being able to whip up some scones when a girlfriend is stopping by, or bake something for my family for dessert or to celebrate. For now, I have that lost feeling – really no clue about how different flours behave or what replaces what. It is okay though, as I am embracing that feeling of walking into what is currently unknown to me. I mean, how often as an adult do we get that feeling of not knowing what we are doing? It is not something I often experience and sometimes it is interesting to immerse yourself in a bit of discomfort~ That being said, I am blessed to call a number of gluten-free people friends and they are wonderful with offering advice, recipes, and resources. Think of all of the new things I am going to learn!
One thing I have rediscovered that is delicious and offers a lot of nutritional value is quinoa. I had a bit of a love-affair with it while pregnant with #3 – we are talking a huge bowl once a day. Cooked but plain. I’m over that… I do really like it though, and thanks to an incredible cookbook I bought last week called “Quinoa: The Every Day Superfood 365″ at the Book Larder while spending an afternoon with a girlfriend in Seattle, I have a huge selection of recipes using quinoa. I already made one of the recipes to accompany marinated chicken breasts and it was wonderful! I am excited to experiment with the dessert recipes, as well as the cookie recipes. Really? Cookies with quinoa?
I plan to share my progress as I work my way through the maze of food options and am looking forward to seeing what I discover. I would love to hear if you have any foods that you don’t eat, and why. (Well, aside from simply not liking them!) I am always grateful to hear your stories of discovering food issues yourself and how you managed to adjust your eating habits in an effort to be healthier and feel better.
The following recipe is one of many delicious sounding recipes from my new cookbook. If you are looking for a great book with gluten-free options, I can’t recommend this book enough. I adapted the recipe the other night to what is below as it is what I had on hand. This recipe would be incredibly versatile as it offers a wonderful base in which you could add anything that you like!
Bocconcini & Oregano Salad
adapted for our family from “Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood 365″
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 diced red bell pepper
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 clove fresh garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup tiny bocconcini balls
Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork. Set aside to completely cool.
Combine the zucchini, tomatoes, and red pepper in a large bowl.
Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and thoroughly mix all the ingredients. Add the quinoa and bocconcini and mix until evenly combined. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.