gluten free sauces on the fly

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Ask the Coach, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 2 comments

Well, today you’re in for a special treat. Yours truly and Confident Wellness’ COO wrote today’s blog!

As you may already know, I love all aspects of food—planning, shopping, cooking, and most of all eating the food that I cook. I’m the “chef” in our family and enjoy preparing meals not only for Barb and I, but also for friends and our VERY large family.

Family Dinner

One of our family dinners — as you can see, it’s a very informal affair served “family style.”

November will mark Barb’s one-year anniversary of being gluten free and, of course, my anniversary of cooking gluten free.

A couple of weeks ago, one of Barb’s clients who knows that I cook, asked her for easy sauce recipes as alternatives to purchasing jarred stir-fry and barbeque sauces that are typically loaded with gluten and unwanted ingredients. This created a unique challenge because (maybe like you?) I rarely use recipes when I whip up my culinary specialties. Hmm, what to do?

Being of Asian descent, I prepare many different stir-fries. However, I was now tasked with creating a recipe for one of my “mad-professor”-style cooking sauces. I went to the kitchen, pulled out a pot, measuring utensils, and ingredients that I thought would pull together as a simple, layered, and tasty stir-fry sauce. Here’s what I scribbled on a Post-It note as I made my 10-minute sauce:

Gluten Free Stir-Fry Sauce
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons (or to taste) gluten free soy sauce
½ teaspoon of garlic powder or a couple of cloves of fresh, finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
¼ teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne
Pinch of Chinese Five Spice (careful, it has a strong flavor)
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

Dry roast the sesame seeds by placing the sesame seeds in a hot, pre-heated fry pan until golden brown and set aside. This should take roughly two minutes.

Pour the chicken broth into a water-tight container and shake with the corn starch until dissolved.

Pour mixture into a small sauce-pan, heat on a medium flame until it thickens. You may need to add more cornstarch if you like a thicker sauce.

Add the soy sauce, garlic powder or chopped garlic, sesame seed oil, cayenne, and Chinese Five Spice.

Let the mixture simmer for five minutes.

Add the sauce to your favorite stir-fry combinations. One of my favorites is thinly sliced chicken breast added to a combination of diagonally sliced celery and carrots, bok choy cabbage, and bean sprouts. Be careful not to overcook any of the ingredients, particularly the cabbage and bean sprouts. Oh yes, and use fresh bean sprouts. The canned bean sprouts are downright nasty.

Sprinkle the roasted sesame seeds on top of the stir fry as a garnish.

Notes: My favorite soy sauce is made by Kikkoman, however, their gluten free soy sauce may be difficult to find. We got ours at Wegman’s, a great grocery chain headquartered in Rochester New York. On a recent trip to an Asian store, I found what was termed “vegetarian soya sauce”. Although I don’t like it as much, it can still be used since there are no gluten components.

 

I was also asked to write a recipe for a barbeque sauce. This is one of our favorites since neither Barb nor I enjoy “heavy”, ketchup-style sauces. We prefer something like this:

Gluten Free, Carolina-Style Barbeque Sauce
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon of your favorite pepper sauce. We use some of the hotter, habanero sauces (not for wimps).
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
4 tablespoons tomato paste

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a day or two before using.  If refrigerated, it will last for a fairly long time.

Notes: This is very similar to some of the Carolina barbeque sauces that can be found online. The sauce is great on top of shredded pork or grilled chicken. It can be used as a marinade for other barbequed meats.

I think you’ll enjoy both of these sauces as much as we do.

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download our free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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9 reasons why smoothies are a fantastic breakfast choice

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 0 comments

SmoothiesIf you’ve spent any time with me in person or here on the blog, you know that I LOVE smoothies. They are definitely one of my favorite natural remedies for pain relief. I’ve been having breakfast smoothies for over ten years. So long that I don’t even remember why I originally started making them for breakfast. But I definitely know why I make them NOW! Here are my top nine reasons:

  1. You can make your own in 5 minutes: You just need a blender & ingredients, the preparation is super quick and easy!
  2. They are anti-inflammatory and help create pain relief: Smoothies are naturally grain and gluten free, which is a wonderful anti-inflammatory choice.
  3. You can pack every bite with TONS of nutrition: So many superfoods are the perfect fit with a smoothie. For example, add some blueberries and a teaspoon of cinnamon or ginger. Fantastic for you and so EASY!
  4. You’ll never miss the gluten or dairy: Switching the milk or yogurt for a non-dairy milk doesn’t change the taste in the least. You’ll never miss it!
  5. They help your digestion: Having a liquid breakfast is super easy on your body. It allows the overnight digestion to continue (to a lesser extent) during the morning.
  6. You can save a cup of smoothie for dessert after dinner: If you love a little bit of sweetness at night, just make a bit of extra smoothie and refrigerate it in a glass jar during the day. Healthy and yummy!
  7. Even kids like them – and you can hide a vegetable serving in there for them: My teenage granddaughter just told me the other day that she has a smoothie in the morning now. Her mom puts kale in it, and my granddaughter says, “You can’t even tell!”
  8. If you must eat in the car, you can drink your smoothie: I’d rather eat my smoothie while sitting still at the table. But if your morning is crazy busy, make it a little thinner and take it in the car. You’ll still gain plenty of benefits.
  9. It’s hydration the easy way: Many mornings I use part water and part almond milk in my smoothie. Every little bit of extra hydration we can get is a boost for pain relief!
  10. BONUS: there are so many flavor options that you’ll never get tired of them: Here’s a link to my smoothie Pinterest Board with tons of great ideas. Try some and let me know what you think!

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

 

 

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easy recipe to add anti-inflammatory spices into your life

Posted by on Aug 1, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 0 comments

When I posted my blog a few weeks ago called, “7 Holistic Changes That Improve Pain Relief,” my Twitter friend Lauri Boone (@LauriBoone) mentioned another option—spices that decrease inflammation. Since she talks about them in her book, “Powerful Plant-Based Super Foods,” I asked her to guest blog in the fall and teach us more. I hope you’re as excited about her information as I am about being able to share it with you!

Energy truffles are a great anti-inflammatory snack!

Energy truffles are a great anti-inflammatory snack!

In the meantime, what are some of these spices? My favorites are cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. And today I’m going to share with you a recipe that I love because it includes ALL FOUR of these spices. And it’s really, really easy!

 

Anti-Inflammtory Energy Truffles

1 cup raw almonds
6 pitted medjool dates
¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
¼ cup almond butter
1/8 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons raw honey (optional)
2 tablespoons carob or raw cacao powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon turmeric
pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)

Put almonds in a food processor and process to a medium fine powder. Remove from food processor to a separate bowl. Process pitted dates and flaked coconut together to form a paste. Return almonds to the food processor and add all of the other ingredients. Process until mixture is a smooth paste. Add a bit of non-dairy milk or coconut oil if mix is too dry. Form into small balls. Roll in carob powder or coconut if desired. Stored in refrigerator, truffles will keep for one week.

Each truffle is about 80-90 calories, but every calorie is packed with nutrients and anti-inflammatory value. They make a fantastic snack, and you really won’t find yourself eating more than a couple at a time because they are also rich and satisfying.

Let me know how you like them, okay?

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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9 tips for gluten free cooking at home

Posted by on Jul 4, 2013 in Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 0 comments

Today’s blog is a guest post from Confident Wellness Chief Operating Officer, and my darling husband Cris Graffa.

I love food. I love grocery shopping; whether meandering around a farmer’s market and relishing in the sights, smells, and sounds of the local fresh produce and meat stands or shopping at grocery stores looking for food sales and new items. I love to cook it—Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Asian, Greek, Mexican, Latin, Italian cuisines, et. al. Most of all, I love to eat it. I joke that I’ll eat just about anything as long as it’s not moving. Am I clear about how I feel about food?

Barbara and Cris

Barbara and Cris

I describe myself as a decent home cook but I’m definitely not interested in cooking as a profession. Clearly, Barbara is appreciative that I both enjoy and take care of the household food-related tasks. Although she typically makes her own breakfasts and lunches, I prepare around 90% of all dinners and meals when we entertain friends and family. We eat out the remaining 10% of the time!

Throughout our marriage of 18 years, Barb has always been very passionate about the connection between food, body, and mind and has researched that connection avidly for many years. Based on this research, Barbara decided to go gluten-free after understanding that it may result in reduced inflammation and pain. Frankly, I was skeptical that it would help Barbara’s chronic pain. Nonetheless, I agreed to give it a try reasoning that she could focus more on everyday life rather than pain.

Here’s what I encountered and the solutions that were implemented:

  • First we both learned to decipher food labels and understand that gluten is in wheat, barley, and rye. We went through our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer and gave away gluten products such as pasta, flour, and various canned and boxed goods.
  • As an Asian American, it wasn’t customary for me to have bread with all meals. So, eliminating bread wasn’t a problem. However, I use soy sauce in many dishes. Many of the soy sauces available (I use Kikkoman) have wheat in them to aid the distilling process. However, I found a wheat-free soy sauce at the local Asian store. Not quite the same taste as Kikkoman, but doable.
  • I started buying gluten-free pasta. Some of it was horrible! Recently, we tried one that used both quinoa and corn flour that was very tasty. It was a winner; pasta problem solved!
  • I was chagrinned to find that there was gluten in some cream of mushroom soup as I often use it when making sauces. Without much more effort, I found it very easy to make my own cream of mushroom soup that is tastier, chemical- and gluten-free, and less expensive. Please don’t ask for recipes. I rarely use them.
  • It’s not necessary for everyone in the household to be gluten-free. I still have my beloved Kikkoman soy sauce in the refrigerator and I still make sandwiches with (usually) 12-grain bread. Nonetheless, I’m mindful about cross-contamination and will use separate utensils, cutting boards, knives, and pots and pans when not making a completely gluten-free meal.
  • As part of my cooking, I often dredged protein in flour. Now, I use either tapioca or arrowroot flour. I don’t notice a taste difference. Likewise, I’ll use them and/or cornstarch as thickeners.
  • Most of what I cook rarely contains canned or boxed foods. It has made gluten-free cooking much easier.
  • I thought that buying gluten-free products was going to be extremely expensive. Well, it is! However, there are many items such as gluten-free bread, soups, and other foods that can be made inexpensively and without adding a lot of time to overall food preparation. As an aside, Barb pointed out that the additional expense of gluten-free products would be more than offset by reducing doctor visits, prescription drug costs, and her overall well-being.
  • I still need to find a good solution for some foods such deep-fry batters. I had found a recipe for a gluten-free tempura batter that can be used for fried chicken and fish and chips. I’ll have to give it a try. We rarely eat deep fried foods but I consider it an occasional treat.

At first I thought shopping and cooking gluten free was going to be extremely difficult. After many months of being gluten free, we’re still experimenting with different gluten-free products to find those most palatable to us. As it turns out, the change hasn’t been overly difficult. One only has to practice mindful food shopping and cooking.

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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nine things to know about gluten free dining out

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Ask the Coach, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 0 comments

Seared Ahi with Pomegranate Gluten FreeIn the last month or two, I’ve traveled out of town a few times. Being a gluten-free traveler adds a level of challenge beyond just making healthier choices. Plus, I’ve had a few conversations recently with friends and clients about these challenges as well. I hope these ideas about how to eat out safely when you’re gluten free will help you!

  1. Commit to making choices that are GF during your trip. It isn’t always easy to put your pain relief first but it will make a big difference in how you feel long-term. Believe me, I know it can make every choice more complicated. You’ll walk away from more food than you’ll eat. But staying as pain free as possible is even more important when you are out of your home environment.
  2. Don’t wait until you’re starving to start thinking about where to eat. Keep some GF snacks in your purse or backpack to be sure you are calm and centered when making a food-related decision. (Or maybe I’m the only one whose stress and hunger levels run parallel!)
  3. Use research to choose your restaurants. Start online before you go out—or look on your smart phone while you’re on the go. Many restaurants post GF information and menus on their web sites. One user-generated review site I particularly like is www.urbanspoon.com. Look for their “GF Friendly” feature, which helps narrow down your options especially if you like to support locally owned restaurants.
  4. Once you reach the restaurant (or if you can’t research online), ask for GF menus at the hostess stand. Take a minute to review the choices and be sure it suits you before you sit down and commit to that spot.
  5. It’s best to let your server know right away about your special diet needs. Asking questions and getting help is key to making the experience the best for everyone involved—especially you. It’s better to ask questions up front than to have to send something back or get gluten in your system. That is what the kitchen wants too!
  6. Salmon and Goat Cheese Gluten FreePick one or possibly two menu items that seem to be essentially gluten free, and ask your server to verify with the chef. Be familiar with typical gluten-containing ingredients to ask about in sauces and marinade—like soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Many restaurants are quite familiar with which ingredients contain wheat and gluten. I’ve even had some kitchen staff bring out their questionable ingredients so I could help them answer my own question! This is a customer service world, and you’d be surprised how interested in providing great service people are.
  7. Be familiar with possible sources of cross-contamination sources. For example, you may ask if the French fries are breaded or battered. Even if they aren’t, they may be fried in the same oil as other items that are breaded. So you need to be sure to ask both questions—are they GF and are they prepared in a GF fryer (or other environment)?
  8. Sometimes I use the “pick my battles” strategy of GF ordering. If I’ve asked a ton of questions about the entrée, I will just ask for oil and vinegar in the bottle instead of ALSO asking about which dressings are GF.
  9. When in doubt ask for a completely plain protein. But be sure to specify “dry,” with absolutely no seasoning at all. This is hard for chefs to do because they want to make food they feel is tasty—but it is critical to your health so please insist. You can also ask for plain steamed vegetables—again ask for no seasonings and a lemon slice or two on the side. Lemon can add a nice flavor to chicken, fish, vegetables and since you add it yourself you know it is gluten free.

Let me know what questions you have in the comments section, and I’ll try to help as much as I can. Enjoy the experiences!

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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