Chocolate Drizzle Popcorn

How can something so simple to prepare be so darn good?  We received a bag of chocolate drizzle popcorn in a Christmas basket from a local store and as everyone in my family shoved aside the cookies and munched happily on the popcorn, I thought to myself that this would be an easy after school snack.  Plus, if I used dark chocolate it could even be considered “healthy.”

I have recently joined a women’s networking group that meets at Chocolations in Mamaroneck, NY so I was able to buy dark and milk melting chocolate at the last meeting.

I prepared a huge batch of drizzle popcorn yesterday and it was as easy as 1,2,3…melt chocolate, pop the corn and drizzle the chocolate on the popcorn.

Chocolate was melted slowly on low heat in the microwave and then transferred into my “pastry bag” for drizzling.popcorn_melted choco

As you can see, my pastry bag is indeed a plastic sandwich bag and snipping a small hole at the point yields a perfect drizzling machine.

popcorn_pastrybag

Spreading the popcorn on cookie sheets in a single layer ensures a dab of chocolate on almost every kernel.

popcorn_plain

Finished product sits on the cookie sheets until the chocolate hardens.  Then it is go time!  Break it all up and start snacking.  Store the rest in an airtight container…but there probably won’t be a lot to store if you are feeding a crew.

Kendall Egan

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Happy New Year and Happy GF News!

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This was the news from our high school and middle school on the first week back from school.  The food service group had done a soft launch of gluten-free sandwiches prior to the holiday break as a test run.  My son was asked to try it and give feedback, which he did and it was positive.

I am just delighted not to pack lunch every day anymore.  He could always buy an egg omelet on Fridays, which he did, but the pressure was on to have gluten-free goodies for a packed lunch the rest of the week!

An the even bigger bonus is that when the cafeteria does a wrap, he will eat some lettuce in it.  If I were to put lettuce in a wrap, he would say lettuce is disgusting.  I will take whatever magic or special vegetable fairy dust the food service providers put on the gluten-free wrap to get something green in that kid.

Happy start to 2014 for me!

Kendall Egan

Would I drink Omission Beer?

I have.  It is outstanding.  I received a sample of it when I was Director of Marketing at Gluten-Free Publishing.  I am not a person who knows when they have been “glutened” so I did not have any sort of reaction and it really did taste good.

I would NOT drink it again right now.  Until it is determined to be gluten-free, not just safe for celiacs, I will stick with the sorghum beers and ciders.  In all reality, I cannot believe that CSA took this position.  They have been the most outrageous celiac organization over the years with their positions on oats and vinegar and now they say this beer is ok?

From the articles I have read, the testing they are using is not a good test for this product.  If experts like Dr. Alessio Fasano are saying that the test CSA is using is not the most accurate test for this product, then Dr. Fasano is the scientist I will trust.

My prediction is that the backlash over this will be fierce, much like the Domino’s pizza crust and the Amber rating from NFCA.  In hindsight, the pizza crust was determined not to be safe for celiacs and much of the criticism was centered around who Domino’s was trying to attract with their gluten-free crust.  At least it was upfront about the cross contamination problems and warned the celiac population.

Have you noticed the silence on the issue from other entities that certify foods as gluten-free?  That, to me, is extremely telling.  I think they understand that the test is not valid and will not risk their reputations until the TTB and the FDA are on the same page.

Omission beer might be tasty, it might eventually be determined to be gluten free but saying something is “safe for celiacs” without a really sophisticated and accurate test to back up that claim is totally irresponsible in my opinion.

Kendall Egan

Gluten-Free Bread Crumb Option

I used to be a regular at the major food shows and had an action plan to steel my stomach.  In the morning I would make plain gluten-free oatmeal using the coffee maker in the hotel room to give my stomach the base it needed to then try all sorts of samples as I cruised through the show.

While there I avoided anything with gluten and all green, slimy drinks.  No one sampling food all day needs a shot of a kale smoothy!  The final rule was to just taste one bite, ooh and ahh over the flavor, move on and dump the rest.  It seems pretty wasteful but there is only so much one can cram in over a twelve hour day.

The one exception was the Plentils crusted chicken cutlets the demo girl was cooking up in the Enjoy Life booth.  She explained how each chip variety could make a different type of chicken cutlet.  They were so tasty that I broke my food show rules to taste them all!

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I now make these at home having settled on two varieties of Plentils that suit my family’s taste buds.  I broke my Cuisinart, but the blender worked beautifully to pulverize the chips into crumbs.

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The rest is easy.  Dredge the thin sliced chicken breast in a gluten-free flour, dip in an egg wash and coat with Plentils crumbs.  Since the chips are flavored and salted, they are good to go without really adding much else.

Plentils_crumbs

The thin sliced breast cooks up very quickly and my kids love them.  The crust becomes a golden brown and locks in the moisture to the chicken.  They are also delicious on a roll, but we tend to just dip them into marinara and devour them.

Plentils Cutlets are filed under “gluten-free, quick, easy, week night” dinner options!

Kendall Egan

Fish sticks have changed for the better!

My mother used to serve us fish sticks every so often when she and my father had theater tickets or a Laker game tickets.  Every mom has a few good “quickie” meals when she needs to get something in front of her kids and get out the door.

In reality, a fish stick dinner was only really good for our cats.  All three of us would subtly cut up our fish sticks, move them around on the plate and eventually dump them into our laps.  Our napkins would be spread out waiting to catch all the bits and then after dinner each of us would wander outside to feed the cats.  In California, you can have outdoor cats and ours absolutely loved it when my mom had a night out and served up fish sticks!

I have grown to love fresh fish and want to love the concept of frozen fish sticks as a quick dinner.  They aren’t quite as fishy and smelly as they used to be, but until now I had not seen a gluten-free variety.

I found these and I have to say…they are delicious!

fish sticks

These have a great crunch, a light flaky white fish on the inside and are perfect with tartar or cocktail sauce.  I think I will be stocking these in my freezer for work from home lunches and quick dinners when I have an evening event!

Kendall Egan

My Football “Village”

As the fall athletic season comes to a close, I know I am going to miss the soccer moms from my daughter’s team.  You share the agony and the ecstasy of wins, losses, injury and high-light reel plays.  But as one door closes, another door opens and I now have my football moms.

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My football moms know that my son has a gluten intolerance and they are looking out for him…what a treasure!  I received an email saying that one family was going to provide sandwiches for the guys for the bus ride home after Saturday’s game.  They wanted to make sure the celiac had something, so I got him a ham and cheese sub on a Schar roll.

Ironically, I forgot to tell my son that there would be a gluten-free sandwich for him.  It slipped my mind completely leading up to the game.  It was marked “GF Ham & Cheese” but my new sideline friend said she would hand it to him personally.  How awesome is that?  My son would have probably been fine just eating potato chips and drinking a Gatorade on the bus ride home if he had not found his sandwich.  But, it is so great when “the village” it takes to raise kids helps out!

Kendall Egan

What do Venus Williams and I have in common?

The answer is definitely not the level of our tennis games!  The answer is that we both have autoimmune diseases. Venus Williams gave a delightful interview on Morning Joe today.  She has been playing tennis since she was four and her inner fashionista probably started developing around the same time!

As a person who had a eight year journey of misery to be diagnosed with celiac disease, I was surprised to learn that it took seven years for Venus to receive a diagnosis for Sjogren’s Disease.  And, like me, it took getting very sick before doctors finally connected the dots to diagnose the problem.

Like me, Venus said a diagnosis was a relief because knowing what is wrong helps you address it and start on a path back to health. With an autoimmune disease, you have to accept your symptoms, your body and your treatment.

Venus has addressed some of her issues through her diet. I addressed all of my health issues with a dietary change. She called herself a “chee-gan,”  which stands for a cheating vegan.  I can’t cheat, the results of eating gluten are so unpleasant.

I starting thinking about how the long length of diagnosis of an autoimmune disease might be a common thread across the spectrum of autoimmune diseases.  This leads me to believe that we do not have enough physicians who study autoimmune diseases as an entire class of medicine or who become autoimmunity experts.  We have experts in each disease, much like we have doctors for each body part.

Our overall system is not built in such a way to address the whole person, but there are rare systems like the Cleveland Clinic which offer a more holistic approach.  The journey from internist or pediatrician to body part doctor to disease specialist doctor to psychiatrist if you are a woman because you are often told it is in your head, is challenging and expensive.  But, it also takes a long time and that doesn’t help over all health.

Our pediatricians and internists aren’t thinking about autoimmune diseases when sick patients present with a myriad of symptoms or conversely, with a couple of severe symptoms.  I presented with terrible anemia during pregnancy and dangerously premature deliveries, should my gynecologist have recognized these as celiac disease?  Maybe if celiac disease had been more than one paragraph in a medical book next to a picture of a child with a bloated belly and wasted limbs, he might have ordered a blood test after I turned up anemic in the first trimester.

But, I was anemic in my early twenties and was told my horrible fatigue was all in my head by my internist.  Venus said she just didn’t feel right.  I said the same thing to my doctors.  I trudged from that internist to a gastroenterologist to a new internist to a new gastroenterologist to a new gynecologist over the course of those eight years.  No one ever said, “maybe we should test you for celiac disease.”

Two things would make me happy.  The first is that autoimmune diseases should be addressed thoroughly in the education of our medical professionals. Just knowing about the diseases and the interconnectedness of autoimmune issues would be a huge start.  Understanding by medical professionals that if something is “off”  with the patient or they present with lots of uncomfortable symptoms, the immune system might be having a break down.

The second is that nutrition and food choices should be explored as part of our problem and part of our solution in the education of our medical professionals.  There is a reason why autoimmune issues and food allergies are skyrocketing.  What we put into our bodies has a huge affect on our health and wellness, food is a part of the problem and can be the solution.

Having an articulate, talented and beautiful woman like Venus Williams speak out about her autoimmune challenges is wonderful for awareness, hopefully none of her doctors told her that it was all in her head.

Kendall Egan

 

 

About that healthy diet…

How will my kids know all the good things that go into their food if I don’t tell them?  How will they replicate the healthy eating in their own cooking when they grow up?

I had this lightening bolt when I spent over $13 for organic apples at the grocery store the other day.  Yes, that is a lot of money for apples and to be fair, I did buy enough to pack lunches for a whole week, but that is beside the point. I buy organic apples because conventional apples are on a “dirty dozen” list for foods with the most pesticide use.

On the flip side, I don’t buy organic bananas because I’ve read that due to their peel and the way they are grown, organic is not necessary.   If I don’t tell my kids about this, how will they know that I have tried to shield them from extra pesticides and that they should think long and hard about organic produce in their lives.

I leave the cinnamon next to the toaster because cinnamon is a spice that is anti-inflammatory.  I sprinkle it on my toast every day and use it a lot when I bake.  They think it tastes good, should I tell them?  The same goes for the turmeric that I put into chicken noodle soup or rice side dishes…do I explain the healthful benefits of turmeric?

What about the homemade cookies loaded with walnuts because of the high omega-3’s? There are so many other things, like vegetable purees and fresh herbs, that go into my food for taste and other health reasons.  I put garlic in almost everything and make my taco filling with tomato paste just to sneak in a vegetable.

And, is there really any science to eating a gluten-light diet if you do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?  My whole family eats gluten-free pasta and gluten-free homemade baked goods.  When I make stuffing, it is gluten-free.  When I make basically anything for dinner, it is gluten-free.  Does this benefit the rest of my family in anyway?

Obviously my son and I must eat a gluten-free diet, but the rest of the family does “gluten-light” during the day and gluten-free for breakfast and dinner.  I just wonder what will happen when they go off on their own….

Kendall Egan

Add Korean Food to a GF diet!

I had always thought Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese were the best options for eating out naturally on a gluten-free diet.  I discovered this week that I could add Korean food to the mix.

The diet is largely soy based.  From pastes to sauces soy is the major ingredient.  Unlike other “soy” sauces, it appears that Gan-Jan is soy and salt and that is about it.  The Guk-Gan-Gang is a lighter dipping sauce version.

Another key component is red chili which gives the food a delightful kick.  The small dishes to start the meal are all fermented basically with garlic and chili.    Cucumber, cabbage, bean sprouts and daikon, were placed at the table each with a varying degree of fire.

What I love is that every cuisine has its unique and beautiful presentation as dishes are presented at the table.  Korean dishes arrive bubbling in a bowl or crackling on hot stone plates to give a crust to the rice or protein…truly beautiful.   We ordered so much food and yet I did not walk away unpleasantly full.

It helped to go to lunch with a native Korean who knew about my gluten-free diet for the past 17 years and she pointed out the two things that I should skip.  The Scallion Pancake was one of them but it looked so good that I am going to find some Guk-Gan-Gang and make a gluten-free version at home.  The recipe looks really simple and I think I could make all kinds of quick and easy dinners with different ingredients!  The other was dumplings, which I don’t mind skipping.

We did not order dessert and we did not order drinks.  I could have used the Korean version of a Thai tea to cool down my mouth!  Next time I will peruse both options, and it will be soon because the food was fresh, healthy, spicy and so good.

Kendall Egan

 

 

Sneaky Celiac Chef

Like every mom, I try desperately to increase the fruits and vegetables in my family’s diet.  Cauliflower is something that would NEVER get past anyone’s lips unless it was heavily disguised, like in pureed form in a tray of homemade baked mac and cheese!

Multitasking counter over here.  The start of the cheese sauce is on the stove, the puree of cauliflower is waiting to be added and the gluten-free breadcrumbs are toasted with butter and waiting to garnish the top of the pan.

bread crumbs and cauliflower

The raw ingredients wait on counter #2.  Flour thickens the sauce and the pasta is awaiting boiling water!  Land O’ Lakes American cheese really does make the creamiest cheese sauce.

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I cook the pasta with the al dente directions so it will hold up in the cheese & cauliflower sauce.

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All ready to go into the oven for baking…you can’t see, smell or taste the cauliflower.

pan of mac

I served this with baby carrots, the one vegetable all of my kids will eat.  Little do they know that they had two servings of vegetables for dinner.

emply pan of mac

Kendall Egan