Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gluten Free Goodness

**Note: This is not a compensated review. I wish I had received the cookbook or GF flours for free, but alas, this is just me passing along something wonderful that I have discovered.

About six months ago, our son Henry went Gluten and Casein Free. The change for him was immediately noticeable. He stopped complaining of stomach aches. His bowels began cooperating. His tummy distention disappeared, as did the dark circles under his eyes. His swollen nasal passages and head congestion that he had suffered with since infancy went away. His mood swings improved as well, although he did get emotional for quite some time about food. (He loves grumpy faces, even when he's cheerful. Silly boy!)

I am emotional about food, too, so I hurt to watch my son go through this. At first we tried to all eat GFCF when we were around Henry, but there were two problems with this: it was an expensive way to feed a family of 7 and it didn't taste good. I gradually moved to frequently preparing two meals or two desserts so that Henry could partake with us while we ate our old favorite stuff. I did hold off on making things that were his favorites if he couldn't have them, at least until the holidays hit.

Henry has stuck to his diet, cheating only a couple of times when we have given him the option (and always regretting it later). I am proud of him, because it isn't easy. I do take heart in the fact that this experience is making Henry a stronger person, not only because it is better for him physically, but because he is learning that he can do hard things and not just give in to his appetites.

I was thrilled, recently, to find this GFCF cookbook put out by Silvana Nardone, called Cooking for Isaiah. Silvana is a foodie like me, only more so:) She is the founding editor-in-chief for Everyday with Rachel Ray (among other impressive gigs). She loves to nurture and bond with her family around good, homemade food. And she wasn't about to let her son, Isaiah's, gluten and dairy intolerances stop her from doing that. Her cookbook starts out with their story (don't you love a cookbook with a story?) and then her own recipe for an all-purpose gluten-free flour and a gluten-free pancake mix. These two flour mixes are used throughout her cookbook, but they can also stand in for all-purpose flour in other recipes. I love that she researched and tried all the options available on the market and tells you which are the best products for her recipes.

Anyhow, we are loving the recipes. Henry had a chocolate birthday cake (adapted) from the cookbook. Gluten -lovers and -eschewers alike gobbled it down (I did a base of her chocolate cake with an Irish mint frozen yogurt-- Henry can sometimes tolerate yogurt-- and her chocolate whipped frosting, frozen). Please don't look too closely at the picture, as the I was rushing when I put the frosting on and it was still a bit too warm for the frozen cake.

 The cookbook is full of sweet breakfast options. We have also loved her cinnamon toast waffles. (Yes, I had some whipped cream on mine-- and butter. But Henry loved his with just maple syrup, and it was far better than giving him a GF freezer waffle while the rest of us ate homemade.)

We also devoured her Frito-crusted chicken fingers with honey mustard aioli, and the Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Crumbs was so good I made it again only a few days later. I'm going to share that recipe with you here, but if you or someone you love is Gluten-Free, you have got to get this cookbook! And if not, never fear! She has the gluten- and dairy-filled substitutions listed as well!

Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Crumbs

Adapted to serve 8 people if a few of them are not big into meatballs (read: my family)
  • 1 pound ground beef or chuck
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic-- 2 grated, 2 smashed, 1 chopped
  • 1 cup rice cereal crumbs (I used Rice Chex)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 T. flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 package corn or rice spaghetti
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or less if you have a wimpy family like mine
Combine the beef, onion, chopped garlic, 1/2 cup cereal crumbs, milk, egg, 2 T parsley and 1 tsp salt. Shape into meatballs. (I make 16 small meatballs, Silvana makes 8 large meatballs to serve 4 people).

In a large saucepan, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Submerge the meatballs in the sauce, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Cook your pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce.

The garlic crumbs are what really elevate this dish! Heat the remaining 1 T. olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the grated garlic, remaining 1/2 cup cereal crumbs, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook until toasted, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Don't get impatient because you want that nice toast, but don't walk away either, or they might get too toasty (like mine did the second time around). Sprinkle them liberally over your meatballs and sauce and over your salad if you like as well! They add such a nice crunch.


Myrna Snider Thomas said...

I am loving the book too. She is an admirable lady as are you. Thanx for the new options.

nickandstaci said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I am always, always looking for new cookbooks for Max and this one sounds great! I will check it out :)

angelj44 said...

Thank for sharing this info, I'm going to share this with my sister Lisa. She has been dairy free for awhile but recently has added the whole gluten thing. On top of it all she is pregnant and struggling with what she can eat and you know how skinny she is.

Karla said...

I'm eager to check out this cookbook. My 4 year old has recently gone gluten free ( along with his dairy, egg, soy and peanut free diet.) We haven't seen the changes we were hoping for, but perhaps we need to give it more time.
I know you make your own pizza crust, but if you ever need a gluten free pizzeria, try Z's Pizza. I believe there is one near you. The GF pizza only comes in one size and they are pricey, but my picky son loves it.

Michal said...

This cookbook does call for eggs, but you have probably already figured out appropriate substitutes. It is so challenging to feed a child with food allergies, I can't imagine dealing with such a long list of restrictions. Good luck!

Andrea said...

This is perfect for my friend. She can't even touch bread without a reaction. Thanks for sharing.

JenH said...

Wow i'm so proud of Henry for sticking to his diet!
I'm allergic to gluten and wheat too, but i love my pasta and bread so thats really hard to give up! But if Henry can do it, i think i can to!
I'm going to go check out that cookbook! Sounds awesome!