Featured

Not your Mama’s Tuna Salad

I’ve mentioned before that I was not the best cook in my early years. Prior to my marriage, Graves Disease, and Celiac Diagnosis, it was looking like all hope was lost. One thing I was always good at, thanks to my mother, was Tuna Salad. Some of my favorite memories were in the kitchen together, making Tuna Salad. It was always one of our favorites, and frequented our table often. I remember my mother saying, “If you know how to boil water, you can cook.” But for me, that was debatable! Luckily, I have had time to adapt and overcome.

Now I know Tuna Salad doesn’t require much “cooking,” but it is delicious and nutritious! Did you know it offers amazing levels of antioxidants, proteins, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and potassium? It also offers B12, niacin, B6, and riboflavin. Not only is it high in vitamins and minerals, but it also aids in lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, helps in weight loss, boosts the immune system, increases energy, maintains skin health, increases red blood cell count (which helps with Anemia,) and reduces inflammation. Below you can find the Nutritional Facts of 1 cup of Tuna Salad (found on http://www.fitbit.com/foods/tuna+salad/23419.)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size

1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories

383
Calories from Fat

171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

19g
29%
Saturated Fat

3.2g
16%
Trans Fat

0g
Cholesterol

26.6mg
9%
Sodium

824.1mg
34%
Potassium

364.9mg
10%
Total Carbohydrate

19.3g
6%
Dietary Fiber

0g
0%
Sugars

0g
Protein

32.9g
66%
Vitamin A  4% Vitamin C  8%
Calcium  3% Iron  11%
Thiamin  4% Riboflavin  8%
Vitamin B6  8% Vitamin B12  41%
Niacin  69% Magnesium  10%
Phosphorus  36% Zinc  8%
Copper  15% Pantothenic Acid  5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Now, over the years my Tuna Salad recipe has evolved…It began back in that Independence, Missouri kitchen with my mother, including just Tuna, Relish, Mayo, Yellow Mustard, Celery, and Eggs. Then in college, I began to season my Tuna Salad (it still had the Relish and Mustard,) but once I met my husband, who DESPISES said Relish and Mustard, my recipe had to develop into something completely different. As always…I negotiated. I ditched the Pickles, but the Mustard I couldn’t live without…so I decided to start using “Ground Mustard” instead of liquid Mustard. Not only was it more flavorful, but it wasn’t as tart, didn’t stain the dish yellow, I could sneak it in without him knowing, so therefore it was a compromise we could both “agree” on.

I’ve found, other than pleasing my husband, the hardest part of Tuna Salad is the Hard-Boiled Egg…I think I’ve tried every “hack,” recipe, etc. on how to cook the perfect Hard-Boiled Egg. Sadly, I cannot remember where I have heard, read, adapted this “recipe”/idea from (this one isn’t mine!) to give them credit, but if you follow these directions, you will have the PERFECT, Easy-to-Peel, Hard Boiled Egg!

I hope you enjoy my Tuna Salad Recipe. If you have any interesting, delicious Tuna add-ins, please comment below!

Ingredients:

4 cans Albacore Tuna in WATER drained (Bumblebee or Starkist are GF) for Pres. Free Recipe, use Organic
4 Eggs Hard-boiled
1/2 cup chopped Celery
1 1/4-1 3/4 cup Mayonaise (depending on your taste-I’m not a Mayo fan) If Sulfite Int, Kraft Light has NO Lemon Juice Concentrate, for Preservative free, use Organic
1 tbsp Lemon Juice (from a Lemon or Organic Concentrate)
1/8 tsp White or Black Pepper
1 tsp Ground Mustard (You may use a liquid flavor Mustard of Choice, as well- 2 tbsp)
1 tsp Paprika
1/4 cup chopped Flat Leaf (or Curly if only available) Parsley
3 Large Cloves Garlic
1 Large Basil Leaf
1/4 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan/Asiago/or Cheese-Soy-Nut “Cheese” of Choice
Optional-I like to add 2 tbsp of a vinegar-based dressing (if Sulfite-Intolerant, no Red Wine/Balsamic Vinegar!) My favorite is an Organic GF Ginger Vinaigrette.
Optional- Chives, Shallots, Scallions, or Onions
Directions:
PERFECT HARD-BOILED EGGS
1. Place 4 eggs in water, covering one inch above eggs, into medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil.
2. Once Boiling, continue to boil for 5 MINUTES.
3. Remove from heat, COVER, and set timer for 20 MINUTES.
4. Pour out water (carefully,) and fill pot with ice, and cold water. Let cool for 8 minutes.
5. Peel and chop eggs.
For the Tuna Salad
1. Drain Tuna. Mix chopped Eggs, Tuna, Celery, Parm (or “Cheese of choice,) and Onions (if using them.)
2. In blender/food processor, place Mayo, Dressing (if using,) Mustard, Pepper, Lemon Juice, Paprika, Basil, Parsley, and Garlic.
3. Blend all together.
4. Fold into Tuna mixture. If it is still a little dry, you may add more Mayonnaise, or Dressing to balance it out.
5. Best served with my two favorites: Chebe Foccacia, or O’Dough’s Flatbreads!
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Pictured above with O’Dough’s Flatbread (seasoned with Oregano, Rosemary, Olive Oil, and cut into triangle pieces.)
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Featured

Gluten Free Plantain Nachos

Have you ever found that ONE restaurant? That “Hole in the Wall,” “Hidden Gem,” “Mom and Pop,” “Secret Spot,” that you just fell in love with instantly? That’s Patacon Con Todo. Where my husband and I lived in Orlando, there was this small business center a block away from our apartment complex. It had everything I could ever want. There was a 7-11, Nail Salon (amazing, by the way! It is called Debonair Nails Spa-everything from Massage, Waxing, Nails, Pedicures, etc,) Hair Salon, Sub Shop, Thai Restaurant, Sports Bar, Hookah Bar, and my 3rd love…Patacon. I feel an explanation is in order: #1. My husband, #2. Starbucks, and #3. Patacon.

Side note, this is how much I loved Patacon. It is August in Georgia, 10am, and our AC is busted. We live on the top floor, but I loved them so much, I am sitting here with my laptop burning on my lap, STILL writing about them! (I forgot to mention with Kidney Disease, I am unable to sweat, and therefore, at this time have an internal body temperature of 101 degrees, just to put the intensity of this love into perspective #refractoryceliaclife.) Now, back to the best Colombian, Fast-ish, Food Truck, in a Store-Front experience you’d ever get! My husband and I would seriously look at each other and say, “What’s for dinner?” It would always come back to Patacon, and off we’d walk (or drive,) to the pick up the most interesting dish I’ve ever had. It was simple when you think about it. Fried Plantain pieces. Like the step before you smash them into Tostones (for those of you who know Spanish/Puerto Rican/Dominican Cuisine.) Then they would add Onions, Peppers, and Meat. Your protein choices were Pork (that was the only part I didn’t like-it was always chewy, and fatty, not my thing,) Churrasco (Steak,) and Chicken. We of course picked all three! Since the meat and plantains were their only fried foods, they were 100% Gluten Free. Have I mentioned I LOVED this place!? Then one fine day, my husband and I decided to take a walk…and we became hungry…so we decided to stop at our favorite place…where our bellies feel at home…but that home was no more! Our bellies were so upset (in more ways than one, by now we were STARVING!) So I decided to get even, and kicked it up not just a notch, but about 20!

My recipe below, inspired by Patacon is seriously KILLER. Meet my Plantain Nachos. My belly will never be sad again, and neither will yours! If you modify the Cheese and Garlic and Herb Crema, this recipe can be Dairy Free, as well as abide by the Paleo Diet. It truly is and will be, the best and only way you will ever want to eat Nachos (and I’m not just saying that because it’s my recipe!) I would love for you give it a try, and comment below for an unbiased view!

So, in honor, and loving memory of Patacon Con Todo, I give you my Gluten Free/Sulfite Free/MSG Free: Plantain Nachos:

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Ingredients:
3 LG Green Plantains (per 2 large servings)
Garlic and Herb Crema:
8 oz Sour Cream
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/4 cup Parsley (pre-chopped)
Black Beans:
1 can Black Beans (I use low sodium)
1/2 can Water
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/4 cup Parsley (pre-chopped)
1 packet msg/gluten-free Sazon
1/4 tsp White Pepper
1/4 tsp ground Thyme
1 tsp Adobo
1/4 c diced Yellow Onion
1 lb Ground Beef 80/20
3 tbsp Sofrito
1/2 cup Caramelized Onions
1 Roma Tomato
1-2 Green Onion/Scallion
1 pkg Cotija Cheese

Guacamole:
2 Hass Avocados
2 Large Cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/16 tsp White Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Paprika
3 tbsp diced Red Onion
1 tsp Lime Juice

Directions:
1. Marinate meat in Sofrito, Seasoning, and Garlic for 2 hours in Refrigerator, covered. Then remove and brown on stove-top on medium heat. Drain grease.
2. While meat is browning, slice Plantain rind/peel vertically and run under running water, then remove peel.
1. Pour Black beans and its juice into medium sauce pan. Fill can half-full with water, and pour into pan as well.
2. Next add all ingredients, except onions, those will be completed in next step. You may also add peppers/jalapenos/chili sauce/Tabasco/etc to add spice. Cook on medium heat until sauce begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Then bring down to simmer, continuing to stir.
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1. Slice Peeled Plantain in 1/4 inch thick medallions, while heating oil in skillet, begin caramelizing the 1/2 cup of onions (for meat,) as well as the 1/4 cup of onions for the beans (3/4 cup total) until opaque and slightly browned. Once finished, add to cooked meat, and stir into beans.
2. Begin to fry plantains in oil 6-8 mins, stirring occasionally until brown freckles appear.
3. Remove from oil, then drain on paper towels.
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1. Spoon sour cream into bowl, chop cilantro, parsley, and mince remaining garlic cloves. Stir into sour cream. (I also add roughly 1/2 tsp Paprika for added flavor and a touch of color. The featured photo has 1 tsp Thai Chili Sauce (GF) mixed in, as well as 1/2 tsp Chipotle Sauce (GF) for a little kick.
1. Cut Avocados and remove pit. Put into bowl and mash with fork. Finely dice Red Onion, mince garlic, wash and chop cilantro, and mash and stir into the avocado mixture. Stir in the dry seasonings.
2. Taste Guacamole, add additional seasonings if necessary (may add chopped jalapeno or chili powder if you prefer some heat.)
six-layer-mojo-dip
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1. Slice, Dice, and Chop your remaining toppings (Tomatoes, Scallions, and Cheese.) I remove the seeds from the tomatoes, so the sogginess is limited.
**Build your Nachos to your liking…Just put your plantains on the bottom, and stack away. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have!
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Featured

Sofrito Beef, Stuffed Mofongo

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m married to a WONDERFUL man, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Now, being married to a Latin man has both its blessings and curses, as I’m sure some of you may know (now as an Italian female, I have quite the balance sheet myself!) One of the many blessings, is the cuisine, but let me make something perfectly clear, it doesn’t come from him! My husband adamantly REFUSES to cook. Now it’s not that he can’t cook, he’s actually quite decent. He just HATES it. Luckily on my rough days, he’ll pull out one of my recipes, follow it to a “T,” and take one for the “T”eam. I’ve mentioned he’s wonderful, right? Anyway, since Latin is part of his culture, I have had to broaden my horizons when it comes to the kitchen, since I always believed the goal of every wife was to cook as well as her Mother-in Law. The problem is, I was at a major disadvantage. Luckily, most Spanish food is inherently gluten free. I learned how to make all of his favorites: Aroz con Pollo, Churrasco con Chimichurri, Flan, Tres Leches (you can find my recipe for both my traditional Tres Leches, as well as my DAIRY FREE Tres Leches by clicking HERE,) and my favorite, Mofongo. Now, what is Mofongo, you may ask? It is mashed Plantains with Cilantro, Chicharrones (Pork Rinds, I leave these out due to pre-packages tendency to not being GF/SF/MSG Free,) Olive Oil, Seasonings, and I add Garlic…of course! Now, for those of you who have not been around Plantains…They are NOT the same as green bananas! Do not get confused. Plantains are a totally different variety of starch. If they are green, they taste awful raw, but there are many different ways to eat them Mofongo, Tostones, and Sweet Plantains (ripe/Yellow,) just to name a few. For this recipe we will be focusing on Dark Green Plantains (not ripe,) and making Mofongo. Did you know that Mofongo originated in Africa? Many people believe it came from the Caribbean. In fact it was the African culture that used various starchy vegetables and green/semi-ripe plantains. They were boiled (not fried, which is the common Latin method,) and then mashed, with a soup broth poured over it.

Now, every Spanish/Latin restaurant that he has taken me to (remember, he doesn’t cook,) “Stuffed Mofongo,” is served with the Mofongo like a bowl, and the meat served inside. I had decided by about the 4th time I ordered it, that I wanted to try and take it literal (most of my recipe ideas come from urges/frustrations like these.) I wanted a fully Stuffed Mofongo. So…here it is! I’m not going to lie, it is a challenge to mold. However, I did get it on my first try, so I know you can too! Never give up, never surrender!!

Equipment/Ingredients Needed:

20170801_152906

Ingredients:

Mofongo:

3 LG Green Plantains (per 2 large servings)
1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro
3-4 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
!/8 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Adobo
or
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/8 tsp Pepper
Filling:
1 lb Ground Beef 80/20
3 tbsp Sofrito
1/2 cup Caramelized Onions
Directions:
1. Slice Plantain rind/peel vertically and run under running water, then remove peel.
2. Slice Peeled Plantain in 1/2 inch thick medallions, while heating oil in skillet.
20161231_202711
3. Fry in oil until brown freckles appear.
20161231_204105
4. Remove from oil, then drain on paper towels.
5. While the pieces are draining, begin caramelizing the 1/2 cup of onions, until opaque and slightly browned. Once Plantains are drained, place in bowl/mortar, 4-6 pieces at a time and mash, until only 1/3 of pieces are left (this will be your “bottom” of your Mofongo.)
6. Meanwhile, place Cilantro and Garlic into Food Processor/Blender and chop.
7. Place into bowl/mortar with Seasonings, 2/3 Herb mixure, and 2/3 tbsp Olive Oil. Mash/fold into Plantain mixture until a thick,chunky, mashed mixture is achieved.
20170313_184957
…Now the fun begins!!!
1. Find 2 bowls that are the “right size” for what you need. I made one Mofongo for my husband and I, then cut into it for “effect.”
2. Take first “mash” and mold around bowl on the bottom, then sides. I use a fork and rubber spatula for this.
3. Place onions first, then Sofrito Beef mixture.
4. Next mash the rest of your Plantain medallions in your second bowl bottom,with the remaining 1/3 Herb mixture, 1/3 tbsp Olive OIl, and Seasonings, creating a thick pancake shape.
5. This is one of the tricky parts! Take your rubber spatula and slowly work it between your Mofongo and bowl sides.
6. Once your sides are free, then slide the spatula under the Mofongo to free the bottom.
6. Next, take your “Mofongo Pancake” and place onto your original Mofongo “Bowl.” Push down very carefully to attempt a seal.
9. With a deep sigh and a prayer, put your hand over your bottom of your Mofongo to keep it together (as you flip it,) and get ready…1…2..3…FLIP! (Don’t forget to move your hand at the last minute.) Now hold your breath, and pull your mortar/bowl off slowly and careful to lift straight up. (SLOWLY!)
IMG_20170806_224606_613
10. YOU DID IT!!!
Now that the hard part is done…
Broth Ingredients and Directions:
Microwave or Stove Top Boil your favorite broth.
I prefer my favorite, delicious, gluten free, sulfite free, msg free, dairy free, AND vegan broth by Massel Foods. It is truly delicious!
1 cube Boullion
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Chili Powder
1/16 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Oregano
2 cups Water
Featured

Gluten Free, Stuffed Green Bell Peppers and Green Tomatoes

I have hereditary Celiac Disease. There are many different genes for Celiac Disease, but the gene I have inherited is called Refractory Celiac Disease. Sadly, this means that diet alone doesn’t control my Disease. I inherited the Celiac gene from my grandmother. She was one of the most amazing women I’ve ever known. She was diagnosed in the 70’s, when there weren’t special aisles in grocery stores; she had to special order her gluten free bread; she didn’t have the luxury of FDA rules and regulations we have now protecting us and our bodies. Because of these reasons, along with the type of gene we both share, she ended up suffering from inoperable esophageal cancer, and passed away in June of 1996. I can’t stress enough, the importance of following our diet to reduce reflux, inflammation, and the damage of our autoimmune response (even if you’re suffering from the Refractory gene as I am, it is still of the utmost importance to continue the diet as directed to reduce the damage as much as possible.) Now, how do you know if you have Refractory Celiac Disease vs. the more common Celiac gene? If after 9-12 months of a gluten free diet, with no gluten (0 ppm) intake, your Alkaline Phosphatase levels still haven’t normalized (AP is a liver function test, in which normal levels are 42-98IU for a 20-50yr old woman; however, mine normally sits around 26-30IU at 34 years old.) Another symptom to consider is if your chancre sores haven’t disappeared, even after eliminating Sulfites and Sulfates from your Toothpaste (a common intolerance for Celiacs.) Is your tooth enamel still softening? Do you still suffer from regular headaches/migraines (1-4 per week?) Joint pain? Do you still have rashes on your skin or scalp that won’t go away, even after changing to non-irritant skin and hair care products? If you have COMPLETELY eliminated gluten, no cross-contamination has happened, and no accidents for at least 9-12 months, and still have all or most of these problems plus Vitamin deficiencies and Anemia, you may suffer from Refractory Celiac Disease. Speak with your Rheumatologist, Endocrinologist, or GI specialist (only if GI is a Celiac Specialist.) Many GI physicians do not know enough about Celiac Disease to help with the intolerances that follow, etc. It is always best to find someone who has studied this disease, its complications, and knows its different complications. My old GI in Orlando, bless his soul, was unaware that if you are on a gluten free diet, you’ll get a negative result on your endoscopy. I was gluten free for 5 months when he performed the endoscopy, still ended up with duodenitis, plus all the above symptoms and lab results I listed for Refractory Celiac Disease, and a positive genetics test…2 months later, I had lost 30lbs (from 145 to 115,) couldn’t hold down my food, and thought I was actually dying. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. Thank goodness I had a physician at the hospital who looked over everything, and officially gave me my diagnosis. Moral of this story? Never lose hope!

Now, back to my favorite Celiac… My grandmother always made me delicious, well-balanced meals. One of my favorites, her Stuffed Green Peppers! Did you know even Cooked Green Bell Peppers are packed full of nutrients?

1 Bell Pepper Cooked=

Vitamin C: 197%
Vitamin K    18%
Vitamin B6   15%
Iron              4%

Also, they are packed full of Amino Acids, a very good source of Fiber, and Antioxidants! Sadly, my mother is holding my grandmother’s cookbook hostage in Arizona, so I had to wing-it last night! But from what I remember it was as close to the real thing as possible. So here is yet another tasty recipe of mine (that is good for you too!) Now the protein that I chose is Ground Beef. It is cheap, and very easy to manipulate flavor into; however, feel free to experiment! You can use Lamb, Italian Sausage, Ground Pork, Ground Turkey (though this is a bland protein, so be sure to over season,) and Soy Crumbles/Tofu, etc. Whichever you choose, please comment below to let us know how it turns out? I always like to hear and learn different variations of my recipes. For instance, the Green Tomatoes were created because my husband DESPISES peppers. Hey, at least he’s a Gluten Free, Celiac supporter…we can’t have everything, right? So I decided to stuff the Tomatoes for him in place of the peppers. I tried them, and they were yummy! I’m partial to the peppers myself, though. I think they add more flavor, but to each his own :-). I hope you found this information helpful, and enjoy my recipe. Have a wonderful week!

Ingredients:

Ground Beef:
1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef (80% lean)
3 tbsp. Sofrito
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Parsley
1/2 tsp Chili Powder (optional)
Rice:
1 cube Massel Vegetable Bullion
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Sage
3/4 cup Long Grain Rice (Rinsed)
1 1/4 cup Water
6 Green Bell Peppers 
And/Or
6 Green Tomatoes
Gluten free Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
3 Large Cloves Minced Garlic
1/2 Yellow Onion
Equipment:
9×13 Baking Dish, Aluminum Foil, 16 qt Steam Pot (optional)
Directions:
1. Marinate meat with Sofrito and #1 Seasoning Blend.
1. Cut tops off Tomatoes and/or Peppers. Remove insides, seeds, “guts.”
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2. Fill steamer pot with steamer attachment and 2 inches of water (or boil in large pot.) On Low/Simmer, Steam Peppers (only) for 30-40 mins until pliable.
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3. Add Seasonings and Water to Rice Cooker and stir in Rice (or cook in pot, add 2 tbsp Olive oil to pot with rice, cook 2 mins, then add water, cover, cook 20-25 mins.)
4. Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 350°. Chop Onion and Mince Garlic. Simmer in pan until opaque and slightly browned, then add in Meat.
5. Brown Meat, then drain grease, taste, season further if necessary.
6. Remove Peppers from Steam Pot (CAUTION, will be EXTREMELY hot!) And drain upside down to remove excess water.
7. Stir in Cooked Rice, Browned Meat, 2 tbsp Gluten Free Worcestershire (optional,) and spoon into Tomatoes and/or Green Bell Peppers.
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8. Place in 9×13 baking pan filled 1/2 inch with water (to steam during baking.) If you are only making a few, as seen in the photo, use a ramekin filled 1/2 way with water to hold them in position.
9. Bake covered with aluminum foil for 20 minutes, then remove foil, and bake for 10 additional minutes.
10. ENJOY!!
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Stuffed Green Tomatoes pictured above with Homemade, Baked, Gluten Free, Macaroni and Cheese
Featured

Cinco de Mayo Queso Blanco con Carne

Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May, is a holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla. It is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico; however, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican heritage. In the Battle of Puebla, Benito Juarez, the elected president of Mexico, gathered 2,000 men and sent them to Puebla to face off against 6,000 French troops (led by General Charles Latrille de Lorencez.) Though greatly outnumbered, the Mexican troops, led by Ignacio Zaragoza, prepared for a battle that began at daybreak. This battle lasted the day and into the early evening. Eventually the French retreated, after losing nearly 500 soldiers, although the Mexican troops lost less than 100. Though not classified as a major win, this battle on May 5th represented a great symbolic victory for Benito Juarez and the Mexican Government. With support from its Northern neighbor, the United States (after the Civil War,) France finally withdrew in 1867.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is mainly observed in Puebla. Their traditions include military parades, battle recreations, and other festivities; however, it is not celebrated as a federal holiday. Here in the United States, it is interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Many celebrate through parades, music, traditional foods, dancing, festivals in U.S. cities (such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston,) and many local bars run specials on their Mexican beers and cuisine (try and find a bar NOT running a Corona special on May 5th!)

As a Celiac, we commonly cannot eat Queso, due to it containing a “Rue” (a flour mixture used to thicken liquids,) that restaurants use in their dips, soups, and sauces. It took me some time, but I have found a tasty, Gluten-free, Sulfite-free, and MSG-free pre-prepared product from On the Border. With my recipe, you can no longer taste the processed flavor commonly found in pre-prepared dips and sauces. It tastes just like homemade, in half the time! I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as my husband and I have. We use to have it every Friday. We called it our Dip, Date Day <3. Enjoy your Dip Days and Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Ingredients:

Beef:

3 tbsp Sofrito
1 1/2 lbs 80% Ground Beef
2 Large Cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Chopped Sweet Onion
Queso:
1 Jar On the Border Monterey Jack Queso
1/3 cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/3 cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 cup Shredded Cheese of Choice
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Directions:
  1. Massage Sofrito and Seasoning Blend into Ground Beef. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  2. Saute Onions and Garlic until opaque and fragrant.
  3. Add meat and brown. Drain grease.
  4. Meanwhile empty jar into pot and warm.
  5. Add chopped Herbs.
  6. Once brought up to temp, add browned meat and shredded cheese. Heat until melted.
  7. Pour over corn chips, and top with your favorite toppings.
  8. Enjoy!

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Gluten-free Plantain, Sofrito Ground Beef, and Andouille Nachos

Plantains are a close relative to bananas. Studies show they help boost the immune system, regulate digestion, and are rich in Potassium (among other vitamins and nutrients.) All three of these facts are extremely important in the diet of someone with an autoimmune disorder, especially one effecting the digestive system and vitamin absorption. So what is the nutritional value of plantains?

1 cup of cooked plantains equals:
200 calories
0.4 grams of fat
36% Vitamin A
36% Vitamin C
27% Potassium
24% B6
16% Magnesium
6% Iron
% in Daily Value

As you can see, they make for a great vitamin-enriched, low-fat side dish. Now, if you’re not familiar with Plantains, unlike bananas, they must be cooked to be enjoyable. Preparing them to cook, may be the most difficult task, which is why I leave this task to my husband! As I’ve stated before, he is originally from Puerto Rico, and Plantains are a staple in their diet, as well in many other Latin and African cultures. The best way to clean and prepare your Plantains varies, based on which dish you are preparing. If you’re preparing a savory option, as this recipe calls for, slice a vertical cut down your dark green (you do not want any yellow) Plantain, then cut off each end. While running them under warm-hot water, peel off the rind. Now, if your recipe calls for “Sweet” Plantains, you’ll want to pick plantains that are solid yellow and black, with no green whatsoever. For sweet plantains, simply peel as you would a banana. There are many ways to eat Plantains: Tostones, Sweet Plantains, Mofongo (I’ll be posting my Mofongo Burger recipe next week,) or my new recipe: Plantain Nachos!

Ground Beef Ingredients:
3 tbsp. Sofrito Marinade
2 tbsp. My #1 Seasoning Blend
1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef

Plantain Ingredients:
2-4 Large GREEN Plantains (2 feeds 2, 4 feeds 4)
Oil for frying (I use vegetable oil)
Andouille Ingredients:
Andouille Sausage (2 links-not Aidells, I had a reaction twice, even though this brand states gluten-free, I’d be weary.)
1/4 cup Yellow Onion
3 Cloves Garlic Minced
Mayo-Ketchup Ingredients:
1/8 cup Mayonnaise (I use Kraft Light Mayo, no lemon juice concentrate means no sulfite preservative.)
1/4 cup Ketchup (I use Organic)
1/8 tsp Adobo
1 Clove Garlic
Toppings:
2 Scallions/Young Vidalia Onion Stems
1-2 Roma Tomatoes, Seeded
1/2 cup Cilantro chopped
1 1/2 cup Gouda Cheese (or cheese of your choice, Shredded)
1 tbsp Gluten-free/Sulfite-free Sweet Chili Sauce (optional)
Directions:
1. Mix Ground Beef with Sofrito and #1. Seasoning Blend. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
2. Heat oil in skillet. Cut plantains on the bias, in 1/4in thick slices.
3. Fry Plantains, near-fully submerged, until brown “freckles” show, flipping over once. Roughly 6-10 minutes.
Frying plantains
4. Drain on paper towel.
5. Meanwhile, Brown Ground Beef.
6. Dice Andouille, and sauté along with onions and garlic for 6-8 minutes.
7. Chop Cilantro and shred cheese. Mix together.
8. Seed and Dice Tomatoes, Slice Scallions.
9. Mix Mayonnaise, Ketchup, Adobo, Garlic, and Sweet Chili Sauce (optional,) and whisk together.
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**Pictured above is the Mayo-Ketchup with 1/4 the Cilantro and Scallions
10. Plate as follows: Plantains, Ground Beef, Andouille/Onion/Garlic mixture, Cilantro/Cheese, Scallions, and drizzle with Mayo-Ketchup Sauce.
11. ENJOY!
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Sensationally Spicy and Sweet Gluten-Free Sloppy Jenn’s

For Throwback Thursday, I thought of what I ate a lot as a child…Sloppy Joe’s! These were some of my favorite memories around the kitchen table with my family. Manwich was definitely a huge part of that memory, but as a Celiac who has had so much damage to her intestinal lining over the years, I am now a multiple-intolerant. Even though Manwich is technically gluten-free, since I have become sulfite-intolerant, I am unable to handle it. It contains lemon juice concentrate. Most juice concentrates (unless they say 100% juice, from concentrate,) contain sulfites. Even Mayonnaise contains sulfites in the form of lemon juice concentrate. So if you’re a Celiac, who is still having poor reactions when you know you’re eating gluten-free, pay attention to the labels. Does it contain sulfites/sulfates, or juice concentrates? Dried fruit (ie. raisins, apricots, mangos, etc- unless they’re organic,) contain sulfites, so stay away from those as well! Even in our gluten-free granola, they do not always use sulfite-free dried fruit, so I will react to that as well. The reaction can vary from person-to-person. My reaction is that similar to gluten; however, 1/4 the strength, no fever, and 1 day (versus 3-5 days.)

So, now back to Manwich…My husband and I were in the store one day, PC (post Celiac,) and I said how much I missed our Sloppy Joe dinners. I would buy the frozen garlic bread, Manwich, and we’d do open faced sandwiches. We loved them so much, we’d have them about once a week! Now, it’s been about 2 years, and I was craving one. So we pull out the smartphones and start searching for “Is Manwich Gluten-free?” We’ve all been there, and the other patrons look at us like we’re crazy, right? Luckily, I find on Celiac.org that it is, so into the cart it went! I was so excited!! Two years I waited for this moment; however, within 2 hours of eating it, I felt awful. When I went back to the ingredients, I couldn’t find anything. It wasn’t until I noticed every time I had a glass of wine, that I felt the same awful feeling as the Manwich (then I figured it out.) When I spoke with my GI specialist, it was official: Lactose-intolerant (this happened about 6-9 months PC,) and now Sulfite-intolerant (about 2 years PC.) She then warned me to watch for Soy-intolerance (I thought to myself, please no?!) What else is there left for me to eat?! Anyway, after the sulfite diagnosis, I couldn’t go without my childhood favorite, so I have created my own! Below, you will find the recipe to the Jenn-Wich. It is spicy, sweet, and just enough juice (so it doesn’t go running down your face!) Cool Fact: it makes for a yummy BBQ sauce too!!

Ingredients:
3 tbsp. Sofrito Marinade
1 1/2 tbsp. My #1 Seasoning Blend
1 1/2 lbs ground Beef
3 tbsp. minced Garlic
2 tablespoons packed Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon dry Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper flakes
Gluten-Free Worcestershire sauce (regular is made with WHEAT!)
1 1/2 cups Ketchup
1 lg Shallot minced (or 1/2 cup Onion of choice)
6 slices gluten-free Bread
2 tbsp. minced Garlic
Lactose-free Spread
Lactose-free Shredded Cheese for topping (or original if not lactose-intolerant)
Gluten-Free Worcestershire Sauce (regular is made with WHEAT!)

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Jenn-Wich Sauce

Directions:

  1. Mix Sofrito and Ground Beef together with 1 1/2 tbsp. of #1 Seasoning Blend. Cover and put into refrigerator for up to 2 hours to marinate.
  2. Mix first 3 tbsp. of minced Garlic, Brown Sugar,
  3. chili Powder, dry Mustard, Red Pepper, Worcestershire Sauce, Ketchup, and Onion of choice in food processor or blender (or chop onion/garlic,) and whisk together.
  4. Place in medium saucepan and simmer, while you brown meat.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Drain fat/oil from meat, and add sauce, simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Place spread and remaining minced garlic on gluten-free slices, and place face up into oven, directly on rack (as long as oven is 100% gluten-free.) If cross-contamination is a possibility, please use aluminum foil between bread and rack.
  8. Toast 8-10 minutes.
  9. Place Meat Mixture onto Garlic side of bread, then add shredded cheese, serve open faced.
  10. Enjoy!
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Jenn-Wich Flatbread topped with Oven Roasted Herb Sweet Potatoes

Gluten-Free Flavorful and Fabulous Flatbreads

glutenfree-flatbread-text-finalHere in Atlanta, we have such an amazing and diverse community. When my husband called me to say he was asked to transfer to Atlanta, and what did I think, food was truly one of my first thoughts. Coming from Orlando, FL, we lived in a tourist community. Now, one would think, that would make it easier for a Celiac to find gluten-free options, etc. But the fact is, most “chains” don’t necessarily cook fresh to order. Much of their sauces, marinades, dressings, etc., come in pre-prepared/frozen. This means MSG, sulfites, and gluten/wheat, are likely ingredients. Many people, also do not understand that just because they have gluten-free, doesn’t mean they know they have to wash their hands, use different utensils, clean cutting boards, etc. I have a family member, and a friend who both went to culinary school. They know I have Celiac Disease and said they wanted to cook for me. I was timid, at first, but I conceded. Then, they brought home a Teriyaki Pork Loin with the actual package reading…

Containing Up to Thirty Percent of a Flavoring Solution++ Ingredients: Pork, Pork Broth, Teriyaki Seasoning (Sugar, Dehydrated Soy Sauce [Wheat, Soybeans, Salt], Maltodextrin, Salt, Garlic Powder, Spice), Contains 2% or less of Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Soybean Oil, Cultured Dextrose, Dried Vinegar, Seasoning (Yeast Extract, Citrus Extract), Flavoring. Soy ingredients present, Wheat ingredients present, Gluten present

Needless to say, my husband went with them shopping this past year, when they came to visit. The moral of this story is, just because they know what they’re doing in the kitchen, doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing when it comes to our health. (Luckily, this was over a year ago, and they’ve since educated themselves greatly on the subject.)

Now, back to the food here in Atlanta…I was so excited when we got here, to find that it was real…gluten-free menu options were nearly everywhere! To top it off, there are many different local producers of gluten-free bagels, English muffins, breads, pita bread, and my new addiction…FLATBREADS!!! One day my husband and I were running errands, and he had to drop off something for his job at the convention center downtown. That usually means a gluten-free lunch date, so I was all in! We did a search (thanks to Find Me Gluten Free,) and found Flats. This is my new favorite place to eat whenever we go downtown! They make the best flatbreads. You can design your own, and pick what sauce, toppings, etc. They have breakfast, lunch, smoothies, salads…literally fresh, tasty, and amazing in every bite! The gluten-free flatbread holds its form, actually gets crispy, and is so tasty, you wouldn’t expect that it’s gluten-free. Now I know, that’s what we all say, but my non-Celiac husband said it too! If you’re local to Atlanta, or just visiting, check out Flats Atlanta. So, since we can’t go downtown every day, or even every week, I had to do something for my new addiction. I found O’Dough’s. (Bonus: If you live in Canada, they offer a $15 Sample Box to give them a try, AND give you $15 in coupons, so it’s like you’re getting all that gluten-free goodness FOR FREE!!) I’ve only managed to find these flatbreads at Kroger supermarkets, but if you live somewhere that does not have a Kroger, and happen to find who carries them, please comment below with the location? These flatbreads are so delicious! I put them in the oven (direct from freezer) without any toppings on them, sprayed with cooking spray and garlic powder on both sides, for 5 minutes, and flip for another 5 minutes. Then they’re perfect and ready for toppings!

Flatbreads work for any meal. They can be cut into finger-food size for a party dish, topped with eggs and bacon for breakfast, chocolate sauce and sautéed pears with cinnamon and brown sugar for a dessert, appetizers, dinner, lunch…so many choices!!! Below you will find a few of my favorite flatbreads, but get crazy with it! The options are limitless…If you find one you love, please add your recipe in the comments section? I would love to give it a try! Flatbread night is my husband’s favorite night of the week (and yes, we pretty much have flatbreads once a week in our house.) His favorite flatbread would have to be…

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Mexican Bean and Beef Flatbread

Ingredients/Toppings:

Sauce Base:
1 can Black Beans (I use low sodium)
1/2 can Water
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/4 cup Parsley (pre-chopped)
1 tbsp. Seasoning Blend
3 tbsp. Sofrito
1/4 c diced Yellow Onion
Directions:
  1. Pour in can of beans into medium saucepan on Medium heat. Add 1/2 can of water.
  2. Add Minced Garlic, Diced Onion, Chopped Fresh Cilantro, Chopped Fresh Parsley, 3 tbsp. Sofrito (see recipe,) and 1 tbsp Seasoning Blend.
  3. Bring to a boil. Lower to Simmer and cook for 20 mins.
  4. Taste. Most of the time, as beans cook, you lose the seasoning you’ve added up until this point (so you may need to add more.)
  5. Once desired taste is reached, blend to a paste consistency (like refried beans.)
Or
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley
4 Cloves Garlic
1/4 tsp Seasoning Blend
Directions:
  1. Place roughly chopped Parsley, Garlic, seasoning, and olive oil into food processor or blender. blend until liquid consistency is reached.
Ground Beef:
4 tbsp Sofrito (see recipe)
1 tbsp Seasoning Blend
1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 cup Yellow Onion
Directions:
  1. Marinate Ground Beef in Sofrito (see recipe,) chopped onion, and seasoning blend in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  2. Remove from refrigerator and let sit on counter for 10-15 mins. Brown beef. My secret is let it sit in juices before you stir for at least 5-6 mins. Then chop/stir.
  3. Drain grease.
  4. Taste. Season more if necessary.

 

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Beef and Garlic Flatbread
Mojo (SEE PORK RECIPE– may put into refrigerator overnight):
1/4 cup 100% OJ
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar (the GF brand I use is Nakano “All Natural” No Sodium No Sugar)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 tbsp organic Lime Juice (it is sulfite-free. If no sulfite-intolerance, any lime juice concentrate.)
4 lg cloves Garlic
2 cup Cilantro (chopped)
1 cup Parsley (chopped)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper (or 1/4 tsp White Pepper)
Directions:
  1. Measure all liquid ingredients into your blender/food processor.
  2. Add all dry ingredients, and roughly chopped herbs.
  3. Blend well until liquid consistency is reached, then add marinade to protein. (All proteins should sit in marinade at least 2 hours in refrigerator before cooking.)
  4. Take Mojo Pork out of refrigerator and put on stovetop on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, lower heat to simmer.
1 cup Shredded Chipotle Gouda Cheese
1 cup Sour Cream:
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley
Directions:
  1. Mince Garlic, Chop Parsley and Cilantro, and whip into sour cream.
1 Package Wholly Guacamole
Pico:
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp lime juice
2 oz rice vinegar
1 oz olive oil
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 can southwest style (or fiesta) corn
2 Roma tomatoes
Directions:
  1. Chop Parsley, mince Garlic, Drain Corn, and put all together in bowl. Add liquid with seasonings. Mix well.
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Veggie and Cream Cheese Flatbread
Ingredients/Toppings:
Sauce Base:
1/2 cup Whipped Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley
3 Cloves Minced Garlic
Directions:
  1. Combine Cream Cheese, Chopped Parsley, and Minced Garlic. Whip together.
Toppings: (or Veggies of Choice)
2 Roma Tomatoes
3/4 cup Chopped Broccoli
1/2 cup Chopped Cauliflower
1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro
Ranch or Poppyseed Dressing
Directions:
  1. Chop Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Herbs. Slice Tomatoes.
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Grilled Capicola and Muenster Cheese Flatbread topped with a Kale, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad drizzled with an Italian (Rice) Vinaigrette

     Whichever Flatbread you choose, bake your flatbread in the oven at the directions it states (or find your own best…if using O’Dough’s, I suggest spraying with cooking spray and garlic powder both sides, place in oven at temp it states for 5 minutes, then flip for another 5 minutes.) Then sauce/spread, toppings, and any drizzle or dressing you decide. Welcome to my world of flatbreads!! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Don’t forget to get creative, and share your ideas. And as always, enjoy the tasty life, with the gluten-free wife!

 

 

Gluten-Free Goodness Gracious Guacamole

Individuals with Autoimmune Diseases (like Celiac Disease,) or multiple food allergies, tend to have multiple vitamin deficiencies. Speaking for myself, I have to take Vitamin D, B complex, Iron, Zinc, Probiotics, occasionally Potassium, and have to fill my diet with high Fiber and Protein due to Anemia. Because of this, it is extremely important, to fill my meals with “superfoods” (vitamin enriched foods,) that can give me as many additional vitamins and minerals as possible. A really good example of a “healthy fat” and “superfood” is the Avacado. The Avacado offers the following vitamins and minerals (which are necessary in everyone’s diet, not just the immunosuppressed:)

  • Fiber
  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Potassium
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin

There are many ways you can introduce this wonderful fruit into your diet: sliced or diced on a salad, sliced on toast, halved with salt and pepper, or my favorite…Guacamole!! The recipe below is my basic recipe. Feel free to add your own “flare” to it, whether it’s jalapenos for spice, tomatoes for acidity, or roasted corn for a southwestern twist. This dip/topping is great for any party or to top any Southwest/Mexican cuisine.

 

 

Equipment: Food Processor (though not necessary)

Ingredients (Serves 2:)

2 Hass Avacados
2 Large Cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/16 tsp White Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Paprika
3 tbsp diced Red Onion
1 tsp Lime Juice

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Directions:

  1. Slice Avocados Horizontally, and remove pit. Take spoon around rind and remove “meat” of Avocado, dumping into a bowl.
  2. Add Minced Garlic, Chopped Cilantro, Chopped Red Onion, Lime Juice (Real Lime or Organic Lime Juice is Sulfite Free,) Seasonings, and mash them into the Avocado until your desired consistency is met (chunky or smooth.)
  3. Once consistency is met, add Onions and Cilantro.
  4. Enjoy!

***For added heat, add Jalapeno, Poblano, or Pepper of your choice.

Gluten-Free Perfect Pico

 

One of the many

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hurdles you run into, as an individual with Celiac Disease, is not being able to purchase bottled sauces, marinades, dips, etc. There are very few pre-made products that I am able to consume that are sulfite-free, gluten-free, and MSG-free (I am one of the lucky lactose-intolerants, who can take a lactose enzyme to help digest lactose-THANK GOODNESS-I love my cheese!) This is mainly a problem when someone wants to cook for you. My brother-in-law went to culinary school (an amazing Chef,) and is new to gluten-free cooking, thanks to his gluten-free sis. I know he’s learning, and tries so hard to accommodate me; however, I feel like such a burden every time I have to ask him to make everything from scratch (instead of being able to buy a bottle and pour it in.) One product that I have a problem with is salsa, so I have created this fresh “Perfect Pico” de Gallo recipe which can be used in its place. I’ve used it in every Nacho, Taco, Burrito, Party Dip, etc. recipe. The best part is that you can make it as spicy as you like it!

Equipment: Food Processor (though not necessary)

Ingredients:

1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp lime juice
2 oz rice vinegar
1 oz olive oil
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 can southwest style (or fiesta) corn
2 Roma tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Whisk all liquid ingredients for Pico de Gallo with dry seasonings,
  2. Chop Tomatoes, Chop Cilantro, Mince Garlic, and Drain Corn.
  3. Toss all together with liquid ingredients.
  4. Serve with your favorite chips, or atop your favorite dish!

*May add Crushed Red Pepper, Jalapeno, or Pepper of choice for added spice/flavor depending on desired heat level.

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