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

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.

gf ingredients mac

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

pasta

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

A new phase…the celiac high schooler

Raising a celiac child really adds a layer of trial and error to an already full plate of trial and error.  And thus, my son and I enter a new chapter as he figures out high school and celiac disease.

The daily lunch routine is no big deal and his social life is pretty easy since all of our pizza places have a gluten-free option and Chipotle is every teenagers dream meal.  The movies do not present a problem and as far as I can tell, the drinking scene is not that appealing to him yet.

Where I am worrying is all the team bonding dinners around athletics.  He is a very good athlete so I never worry about him getting picked on or teased for his diet.  But, at the kick off BBQ for football, he literally had a plate of meat.  To me it was gross, I put a chicken breast on a salad and had a balanced meal.  He had a chicken breast, a bunless burger and two bunless hot dogs washed down with a couple of sodas.  Yuck.

The first team dinner was a carbo load, gluten-avoider’s total nightmare.  Three types of pasta, breaded cutlets, brownies and garlic knots with a small tray of caesar salad with croutons.  I volunteered to bring a tray of penne alla vodka and brownies so that he could eat something.

My son and my husband thought I was nuts to go to so much effort.  My son insisted he would just get a pizza later.  But what I explained is that the mom who was hosting would feel so bad if the kid who had three touchdowns the week before had nothing to eat and was just sitting there…even if he looked like he was having fun.  What I said was that he would stick out more if there was a huge fuss made around preparing something different from her kitchen that he could eat.

In the end, the hostess has two nieces who are celiac so she understood the whole thing and asked some great questions about keeping the spoons from the other pasta out of the gluten-free pasta.

Yesterday I stocked up on gluten-free brownie mix and gluten-free pasta.  I think I will just bring a dessert and a 1/2 tray of some sort of pasta to the team dinners.  I might even work out a special football order with one of the local pizza places so that whomever is ordering can just order the “GF Football Dinner” for one.

First dinner went off without a hitch.  He ate and had a blast with his team mates.  I will have this all perfected after a bit of trial and error.

Kendall Egan

 

Gluten-Free Cracker Alert

I have waited and waited for really good gluten-free crackers to come along.  Rice snaps are really good with cheese, but sometimes you just want a snacker-cracker.  A snacker-cracker is the type that you just reach you hand into the box, pull out a couple and eat them.

I bought a box at Fairway and I have to say, at long last, this is a cracker that fits the bill!

crackers

I could have eaten the entire box.  They are flaky and crisp with the right amount of salt and toasted onion flavoring.  I could have used them for a dip or paired them with cheese but they did not last in the pantry long enough for those opportunities.

Absolutely Gluten Free crackers, find them! Ask your grocer to order them!

Kendall Egan

Summer Sandwiches

As gluten-free menus become more prevalent, eating sandwiches and burgers on toasted bread or a roll become a delicious option!

Toasted gluten-free bread.  Cream Cheese. Basil. Sun ripened, juicy, sweet tomatoes.  At the beach house in Cape Cod.  Tomatoes and Basil from Capabilities Farm.

summer lunch

Toasted gluten-free bread.  Tuna fish with grapes and celery. Bowl of Carrot-ginger soup.  Lunch at Five Loaves Cafe in Charleston, SC

five loavessoup and sandwich

Philly cheese-steak with sweet potato fries at 97 Lake in West Harrison, NY

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A GF Football Question for Drew Brees

What does the team chef and nutritionist prepare for you during the season to keep you from starving?

My son is a 14 year old celiac in two-a-day preseason football right now and I can not believe the copious amounts of food he is shoveling into his mouth.  He is absolutely FAMISHED, but not quite all of his choices are “optimal” for good nutrition.

Here is what he had consumed so far today:

A bowl (more like a trough) of Chex cereal with milk for breakfast before session one.

A G2, grape flavor, during a break.

Then home for the following for lunch:

Almond milk, banana and peanut butter smoothie….approximately 16 oz., an apple, an Udi’s Lemon Muffin (inhaled in two bites), a ham and cheese sandwich on Udi’s white bread, a Glutino Strawberry toaster pastry, an Enjoy Life S’mores bar and a bunch of Enjoy Life Snickerdoodle cookies.

There is a lot of nutritious stuff in the mix but a lot of sugar in there too.  I just get out of the way when he comes in the door with that “I’m-so-hungry-I-could-eat-the-furniture” look in his eye.  But, I would LOVE some guidance on some better gluten-free carbohydrates or snacks to fill him up before going back out for session two.

Anyone have some good ideas?

Kendall Egan

Cosi has GF Options!

cosi rice bowlCosi #1

I love it when “fast food” restaurants become aware that they are able to offer gluten-free food options and serve dishes that are labeled with a GF for the consumer.  Cosi, for me, is a “fast food” option right up there with Chipotle…good, fresh, simple food.  I just wish the flatbread was gluten-free because the smell is so enticing.

I was meeting someone for a cup of coffee this morning, but I cannot wait to go back and try a rice bowl.  This is particularly great for my celiac son who has ventured into Cosi several times with his friends.  Now he has an option other than a salad, which he doesn’t really like, when he goes there!  Thank you Cosi for adding these items.

Kendall Egan

Um..Which one is gluten-free?

I am almost embarrassed to write this post since it shows the rather processed food dinners I served my kids this weekend BUT the real story is the difficulty I had telling the gluten-free version of the meal apart from the gluten containing meal.

I had “designer dogs” for dinner on Saturday evening.  Fresh from the butcher hot dogs grilled and served on a fresh from the baker hoagie roll.  The gluten-free version was actually an Udi’s baguette from the freezer with a designer dog but I had to mentally remember that the gluten-free bread was “on the left.”  The two dinner plates looked so much alike that it was confusing.

Even the bread texture on the hot-from-the-oven rolls was totally similar.  The gluten-free version was golden, the crust was crackly and crispy when pierced with a knife and the white innards had a fluffy, spongy consistency.  Seriously, my rule of thumb when serving up gluten-free and gluten-containing meals in one household is to stick to my golden rule of gluten-free “to the left, to the left.”

Yes, it does stem from a Beyonce song, but it really becomes more and more important as the food looks more and more similar.

Last night we were home from the beach late and watched the Little League World Series from the DVR and by the time we finished, I was only up for throwing some Belle and Evans chicken nuggets into the oven.  The GF box is black, the regular nuggets have a blue box.

Once you get the packages out from the box, it is time to really pay attention!  I got out two different size cookie sheets to start and I was mentally focused that GF nuggets were on the larger cookie sheet placed on bottom shelf of the oven.  Once cooked, I took them out and placed them to the left.  They do not get as golden as the gluten-containing nuggets but it is REALLY close.

Whatever works for you…way back in the day this was never an issue because the gluten-free version either did not exist, like GF baguettes or GF chicken nuggets, or they looked so materially different (meaning gross) that no one would ever confuse the two.

Nowadays…you need a kitchen strategy!  “To the left, to the left….”

Kendall Egan