Eleven Easy Gluten-Free Go-Tos

My little sister, Ellen, has been on a path toward becoming gluten- and dairy-free, which has significantly improved her health issues. When she cooks for herself and strictly monitors for cross-contamination, the golden age of GF living reveals all its rewards. One smidgen of gluten though . . . and she’s a goner. When we were together at Christmas, I told her I’d work on a cheat sheet for quick grocery store purchases and safe items at the restaurants she has access to. Many of these are based on what’s close to my office as well–crappy fast-food where I am able to find gluten-friendly fare. I don’t condone a great deal of eating out, especially at fast-food restaurants, because home-cooking is really the only way to monitor quality of ingredients, but reality is that I will be too rushed to make my lunch two days out of the week. It’s good to be aware of my g-free options, even if they aren’t super healthy. (Links below are to the allergen pages for each restaurant/manufacturer so you can scope out the menu items that will work best for you.)

  1. Costco Rotisserie Chicken. $4.99 for a whole cooked chicken. Boom. Most of the time, you can’t even buy a raw chicken for that amount, never mind the hassle and expense of cooking it. A lonely girl like me can get a good four to five meals out of this lovely seasoned bird, and I freeze the carcasses to make my own GF chicken stock down the road. Check the label next time you’re in the store. It says gluten-free in red letters across the bottom. Holla!
  2. Wendy’s. Gluten-friendly items include the baked potato, chili, hamburger patties, and side salads (watch it with the dressings and no breaded chicken!). Sadly, Wendy’s fries are not listed as GF because they are cooked in the same oil as breaded items.
  3. Chick-fil-A. This is no help for my sister, but I want to marry Chick-fil-A sauce, so I’m putting it on the list: chargrilled chicken salad (amen), waffle fries (the choir crescendos!), Chick-fil-A sauce (a downright religious experience). Add a half-sweet half-unsweet tea, and I could die a happy woman.
  4. Qdoba or Chipotle. I don’t love Mexican. Therefore I don’t love these places. But a rice/bean/meat/veggie bowl works in a pinch, and these places make it easy to eat g-free.
  5. Gluten-Free Waffles (Van’s are my favorite). When I first cut out gluten, I ate these for dinner three nights a week. A little butter, almond butter, and a handful of raspberries, along with a couple poached eggs, made for a perfectly satisfying meal. I watch for BOGO sales and keep a couple boxes in my freezer at all times.
  6. Brown rice cakes. GF bread is spendy, and I really don’t like it unless it’s toasted. Brown rice cakes are a great vehicle for albacore with pesto and veggies, turkey and goat cheese, or whatever you might normally put in a sandwich.
  7. Kind Bars. I eat one of these nearly every morning. I only love two or three flavors (the rest are too sweet for me), and I buy those by the box through Amazon Subscribe-and-Save.
  8. Sonic. I don’t love Sonic, but in a pinch, it’s good to know you can get something that won’t derail your lifestyle. Hamburger patties, tots, and fries should be safe.
  9. Arby’s. Arby’s has a fairly comprehensive allergen sheet with some good options, including roast beef and roast turkey, side salad, and roast turkey chophouse salad. Steer clear of the fries!
  10. Quinoa. By the truckload. Almost daily. I have grown to love quinoa more than any kind of rice. I make a double batch with chicken stock on Sundays and use it throughout the week–as a heated side, cold on salads as a shot of filling protein, mooshed together and lightly fried alongside a veggie scramble, etc. Buy at Costco if possible–way cheaper!
  11. Canned soups and stock. Let’s be honest. I am not going to cook soup from scratch every week. Some nights I am going to drag my sorry rear home at 7:00 and reach for a can of soup. Thank the Lord in heaven there are options. (Are you paying attention to this one, Ellen?) Progresso has an assortment of g-free soups. Skip the creamy soups if you’re dairy-free as well. Add a piece of GF toast with tomato slices and crumbled goat cheese on top, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, and this isn’t a half-bad meal. (Also worth noting is Campbell’s allergen document. If you don’t have access to a Whole Foods, which believe it or not, many people don’t, it’s good to know that your standard grocery store carries GF chicken stock, a staple in my kitchen.

Next time around, which will likely be in three months since that’s the frequency of posting I seem capable of, I’ll get together a list of my favorite gluten- and dairy-free bottled salad dressings–another of the challenges for someone new to this lifestyle change. (I promise I won’t wait that long, sis!)

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Ranch Pork Chops

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

I was skeptical of this recipe. I pulled it straight from Pinterest and was a little worried I may end up with a total pin fail (like something from Pintester or Pinterest You Are Drunk), but they were actually pretty good. Plus they were so easy, I’d be hard pressed not to put them into my rotation! I may experiment with adding some hearty root veggies into the pot with the pork chops this fall when they are in season–parsnips and carrots would be awfully good with these.

My one recommendation is not to let these cook too long. I put them into the crock pot frozen at about 7:30 and didn’t get home until 7 last night. My crock pot has a swap to warm feature after a time you set, but just being in the for 12 hours really dried these babies out! The first time I made them, they cooked for 6 hours and were perfectly juicy and tasty.

Ranch Pork Chops

  • Pork chops (I recommend nice thick chops)
  • Ranch packet
  • Cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can water

IN THE BAG: Combine all ingredients.

TO COOK: Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (depending on thickness of the chops) in slow cooker. Serve with a salad and stir-fried or roasted veggies. I had mine with oven roasted butternut squash and stir-fried broccoli and onion.

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Breakfast Casserole

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

Sometimes breakfast for dinner can be fun. Other times, you just want breakfast for breakfast, am I right? Well this recipe works either way. You can toss it in the slow cooker in the morning for dinner or at night and it will be ready when you wake up. And who doesn’t love waking up to a nice, hot breakfast? It’s great for long weekends or holidays. The recipe geniuses at Better Homes & Gardens really know how to get me! Try it–I promise you won’t regret it! I added a layer of frozen shredded hash browns and it was awesome–but it’s delicious without those too!

Breakfast Casserole

  • 8 uncooked eggs
  • 1/2 pound GF breakfast sausage
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 
1 green pepper, chopped
  • 
1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • frozen GF hash browns

 IN THE BAG: Store eggs (scrambled with whisk and seasoned with salt and pepper), veggies, cheese, and meat in separate quart bags.

TO COOK: Grease or spray the crockpot with the butter. Layer meat, veggies and cheese, repeating until you’ve used all the ingredients—your last layer should be cheese. Beat the eggs and pour over the mixture. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve over hash browns.

 

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Teriyaki Chicken

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

This quick and easy recipe comes from Penny at Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. The sauce is a little sweet for me, so I cut down the sugar. You could also sub a GF pre-made Teriyaki sauce for the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, pepper.

This recipe is perfect paired with rice and stir-fried veggies for a quick Asian-inspired meal. I stir-fryed up some broccoli, cauliflower, and onions and served mine with rice! It was really good! (And yes, I was eating this in my living room in front of the TV–just keeping it classy!)

 

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

  • 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Hot cooked long grain rice

IN THE BAG: In a large bowl, combine the sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ginger, garlic and pepper.  Pour over chicken.

TO COOK: Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until chicken is tender.  Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm.  Skim fat from cooking liquid.  Serve chicken and sauce over rice with stir-fried veggies.

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Italian Chicken and Veggies

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

I’ve seen variations of this recipe on the web and in a few cookbooks–probably because it’s kind of a no-brainer. Maybe I lived in NYC for too long, but nothing says comfort food to me like a cheesy Italian dish. Perfect for a chilly fall day.

This one was a big hit with my husband–I only ate one serving and he finished the rest off over the course of a couple of nights. He requested expressly that I make this one again!

Italian Crock-pot Chicken

  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 16 Ounce Bottle of GF Italian Dressing (I used Kraft Tuscan Italian, but I think I may swap for a less sweet Italian dressing next time–it was a little sweet for my taste, although my husband loved it)
  • 1/2 Cup of Parmesan or Mozzarella Cheese (I will often add a dollop of cream cheese to this)
  • GF Italian Seasoning
  • 6 Potatoes cut in  wedges
  • 2 cups of baby carrots
  • Fresh basil to taste, chopped

IN THE BAG: All Ingredients.

TO COOK: Place chicken in pot first. Top with carrots. Top with potatoes. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice pasta or with a salad.

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Mexican Chicken

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

I adapted a slow cooker version of this recipe and it rocks my socks off. Seriously, hands-down one of my favorite slow cooker recipes of all time. I was so hungry and it was so delish, that I forgot to take pictures. Hunger can make any of us do wacky things.

Mexican Chicken

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon Taco seasoning (I use a blend of cumin, cilantro leaves, salt, pepper, a dash of paprika, and chili powder)
  • Chopped green pepper and sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup Frontera enchilada sauce (you can use any enchilada sauce, but this one is SO good you won’t want to!)
  • 
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions, chopped (optional)
  • Chopped avocados (optional)

IN THE BAG: Sprinkle the bite-sized cubes of chicken with taco seasoning. Add the enchilada sauce and toss to coat the chicken. Add veggies and cheese.

TO COOK: Put contents into slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours. Scatter green onions and avocado over the top and serve over corn chips, rice, or on salad.

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Pot Roast

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

I adapted this recipe from domestic genius/superwoman Martha Stewart mixed with how I’d always done pot roast in the slow cooker. It’s not a revelation or anything, but it is a nice, pretty yummy pot roast recipe perfect for fall or winter evenings. I do think that next time I’ll add 1 C. of beef broth and a couple of tablespoons of onion powder just to kick the flavor up a notch.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

  • 8 medium carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 beef chuck roast (3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

IN THE BAG: Add carrots and onions; season with salt and pepper, and toss. Sprinkle roast with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; place on top of vegetables, and drizzle with Worcestershire, horseradish, and rosemary.

TO COOK: Cook on low 10 hours (or on high for 6 hours). Transfer roast to a cutting board; thinly slice against the grain. Place vegetables in a serving dish. Serve roast with vegetables and pan juices.

Slow Your Roll Recipe FAIL: Coconut Ginger Chicken and Veggies

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

This recipe comes from Aimee at Simple Bites. It’s one of the more complicated slow cooker recipes I used, but the comments on the blog were so positive, I thought it was probably worth it. I modified it to work with my freezer bag system, but otherwise I didn’t change a thing. However, what came out was kind of bland. It was still edible, but I wasn’t psyched to eat it–which is a shame because it smelled AMAZING. There are a few things I may have done wrong here: I couldn’t find fresh ginger, so I used dried ginger, and my curry wasn’t of the best quality. (I also skipped the cornstarch since I’m corn-free, so my sauce was a little thin but I was expecting that and leaving out cornstarch doesn’t affect flavor). I’m also starting to wonder if freezing my recipes dilutes the flavors. I may add extra herbs and try this one again since it smelled and looked so delicious.

Any suggestions on how to up the flavor factor in this recipe?

The good news is that this recipe makes a LOT of food, so it’s a lot of bang for your buck.   Husband and I each ate 2 servings as is. Then I chopped up the rest (2 additional servings) and turned it into curried fried rice with plenty of Sriracha chili sauce and gf soy sauce for some flavor and kick. That took care of both of us for dinner and I had enough left over for a big lunch the next day.

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken and Veggies

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 inch cube of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled, quartered
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), cut into four
  • 2 cans coconut milk, not shaken
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup peas or frozen vegetables of your choice

For the spice blend

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt

IN THE BAG: Combine ingredients from the spice blend together and set aside. In a mini food processor, combine garlic, ginger and onion and pulse until it forms a paste. In a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and melt butter. Add pureed aromatics and stir well. Cook for a few minutes, then add spice blend. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Move aromatics to one side of the pan and add chicken pieces to the pan. Cook chicken slightly on all sides, using a sturdy wooden spoon to move it around the pan. It should get thoroughly coated with the spice mixture. Open the cans of coconut milk and remove the cream from the top using a soup spoon. You should have about 1 cup. Pour the coconut milk over the chicken and with both cans, it should just barely cover the chicken. Let cool and then store in freezer bag. In a smaller bag within the larger bag, store coconut cream whisked thoroughly.

TO COOK: Cook on low for 4 hours. Add coconut cream and stir well. Add frozen peas or other vegetables of your choice. Cook for another half an hour or until you deem the chicken cooked and the vegetables hot.

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Henri’s French Chicken

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

This first recipe has been a standby of mine since college when my friend’s mom, Henri, made this on a visit to her house. It didn’t start out as a slow cooker recipe, but it converted nicely!

 

Henri’s French Chicken

  • Chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Queso Fresco, shredded (If you don’t live in an area that stocks Mexican cheese, you can sub in any soft white cheese. I like to use Boursin)
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • 1 cup Chicken broth
  • Pearl onions
  • Baby Carrots, halved
  • Red Potatoes, quartered
  • Garlic
  • Italian Parsley to taste, chopped
  • Rosemary to taste, chopped

IN THE BAG: Combine all ingredients.

TO COOK: Cook on low 8 hours. Serve with side salad.

Can you date me…and my gluten-free lifestyle?

Last week I talked about how friendships can change when you go gluten-free, but dating is one of the toughest things to do gluten-free! Just picture it: you are out looking good at a bar or party when you meet someone charming. You flirt all evening, careful to put yourself in the best light, and then it happens–he asks you out. Yay! Now comes the hard part, you say “yes, but…” and with that but you invite him into the difficulty that is feeding you.

It can be embarrassing enough to explain your eating restrictions to family and friends, but it’s much harder to lay it all out for a guy you are seriously crushing on. After all, admitting to be gluten-free often gets an initial “wow, you must be a freak” reaction, which is not so fun. Of course, any guy worth dating won’t mind that your meals are a little high maintenance, but it can be an adjustment. I warned my now-husband about my restrictions mid-flirt and he asked me out anyway–he just made me pick the restaurants until he got a better idea of what I could and couldn’t eat. He also worked very hard to plan dates that didn’t just revolve around food–he took me to a comedy show, to watch the circus elephants parade into Manhattan, to a fun wine bar, on a walk across the Brooklyn bridge, and to Coney Island to ride the famed Cyclone. He also did his research and called ahead if he wanted to take me to a particular restaurant. (He’s a catch, I know!)

If you are a guy reading this and you are gluten-free, dating wont change too much for you since the onus is usually on the guy to plan the date! Just make sure to pick restaurants with food she likes that also has gluten-free options, call ahead to ask questions, and make reservations. Picking her up with a bouquet of roses is a good idea too!

For girls, it’s a little tougher, but here are my tips:
1. Be upfront with your date about what you can and can’t eat when he asks you out.
2. Have a list of gf restaurants of different price points saved in your smartphone. That way if he suggests a dinner spot that won’t work for you, you can suggest something similar that will.
3. If you know where you are going, call ahead and ask questions so you can know exactly what you want to order. It will save you time during the date that could be better used for flirting!
4. Skip the crowds and offer to cook your date a delicious gluten-free meal.
5. Suggest an afternoon or morning date that doesn’t involve food. You could meet for coffee and a hike, go to a museum or concert, play tennis or another sport, go to a movie, or pack a picnic!

And, this should go without saying, but any date that encourages you to stray from your diet, calls you a “hippy” or “freak” or makes light of your restrictions, especially if you have celiac, isn’t worth your time. Just tell him you hope he has fun cuddling with his bread 🙂