Sunday, April 14, 2013

Easy Easter Lunch

I hosted my first ever holiday this past Easter with my mom and her boyfriend joining me for a culinary feast...and a chance to show off my plates and serving pieces my mom bought me as my Christmas present one year.  Since I was attending Mass a few hours before lunch, I had to be a good chef and have my mise en place in place so I could start the oven within minutes of returning home.  Everything below is very easy to make and I did not create too many dishes.  (The dishwasher did have to run twice that day.)  After lunch, the three of us headed off for a light four mile stroll along Lake Michigan to Montrose Harbor, enjoying the beach, protected bird area (never knew we had that in Chicago), and city skyline.  Then we headed back home for some gluten free angel food cake topped with pineapple and chocolate ice cream.

It was great fun hostessing the holiday as well as enjoying quintessential spring foods.

Here is what I made for our Easter lunch:
Scalloped potatoes
   Substitutions: coconut milk, vegan butter, cheddar cheese (I'm only doing small amounts of dairy at a time) with Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour
Ham with Peach and Apricot Glaze and
   Substitutions: used crushed pineapple and its juice
Roasted Asparagus
   Substitutions: added a side of bacon.  Just kidding.  I ate all the leftover bacon so had none to spare.
Spring Penne with Bacon: finally, an original recipe!  This is my new favorite and I was thrilled to have lots of leftovers for lunches.  I am also addicted to the Eating Right Gluten Free Penne pasta from Dominick's (Safeway).  It is the best corn based pasta I have had!  And it goes on sale frequently!!

Spring Penne with Bacon
12 oz gluten free penne
2 T olive oil
1/2 lb frozen peas
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 lb cooked bacon cut into small pieces
1 t red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Cook the noodles according to the package's directions.
Cook the frozen peas in the microwave for one or two minutes less than recommended.
Add oil to a pan and saute the shallots until tender.  Add the peas, shallots, bacon, and red pepper flakes and cook for another two or three minutes.  Drain the pasta and toss with this mixture.

Happy spring from Windy City Cooking!  Enjoy the glorious spring days ahead!

2013 GFAF Expo this weekend!

This weekend is my favorite weekend of the year - Gluten Free Weekend!  I will be attending the 2013 Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo in Schaumburg, IL - a close drive from Chicago.  The expo is on April 20 and 21 with early bird admission starting at 9:00am both days.  Otherwise, the expo is open to the public from 10:00am until 4:00pm.  Early bird tickets are $35.00 and regular tickets are only $20.00.

Some tips and tricks for making the most out of the expo:
Bring a bottle of water to drink - you will be trying lots of tasty treats and sipping some water between sampling and staying hydrated is a must.
Wear comfortable shoes - you will be walking around, chatting with genius vendors who make your new favorite gluten and allergen free goodies, meeting new friends, sharing secrets of the diet and more.  Treat your feet well!
Bring a camera or a smart phone - I use mine to take pictures of products I want to find in my local grocery store and websites to visit. I find this much more convenient than digging through my bag for a pen!
Plan on learning something new - there are so many wonderful presenters this year sharing more information on the gluten free diet.  Be sure to check out the class schedule here.  I am most excited for Kim Koeller's Safely Eat Out and Travel presentation on Saturday.  I heard her speak last year and it is inspiring me to travel the world!

Over a hundred and fifty vendors will be attending the expo this year.  Don't miss out!  Ticket prices are a steal considering how many samples you will try and coupons you will receive from the various vendors.

I am excited about attending the expo this year.  I was dairy free for around four years and over the past few months, I have grown out of that intolerance.  More of the expo's samples are available for me to try but I still need to enjoy things in moderation.  In addition to being gluten intolerant, I have been on a low fructose diet due to fructose malabsorption for just over a year now.

Follow me on Twitter during the expo at or on Facebook at

Check out my earlier recaps of previous expos:
2011 GFAFExpo
2012 GFAFExpo and Nourished - Blogger's Conference

See you there!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Oh My, OMango!

My sister always has her ear out for gluten free offerings and new products to share with me.  Valerie's latest find is her best one yet - OMango restaurant in Aurora.  Valerie billed this new restaurant to me as "like Chipotle - but Indian" and I was instantly sold on taking the Metra out to Aurora to meet her for lunch.
Their menu is packed with Indian staples like tandoori, wraps, and curries.  At the bottom of the menu is an allergen statement - a sign that I am in a restaurant that will take care of me.  Many of their menu items are also marked signifying vegan options; no vegans or dairy free folks will go hungry here!  A helpful manager guided us through the menu - pointing out the dairy and gluten free options for me (a large portion of the menu) and some recommendations for my sister who is just starting to eat Indian food.

Valerie's lunch on top; My gluten free lunch on bottom
The food arrived at our table quickly after we ordered and Valerie and I enjoyed a full lunch.  The portions were generous and the food tasted superb.  The plain (no filing) dosas are made with lentils and rice, are naturally gluten free, and HUGE.  My once huge dosa slowly shrank as I tried my different curry offerings and rice.  Valerie devoured her samosas while I used my gf dosa to scoop up my curries, including the tasty saag (a spinach puree).  OMango is the place to go for a delicious Indian meal - whether you are gluten free or not!  My OMango lunch was even better than the Indian food I previously have eaten on Devon Avenue - who knew that best Indian food in Chicago was outside the city limits?

For OMango menu, check out their website.  Whether you are familiar with Indian food or are trying something new, you are sure to enjoy OMango's offerings!  I'm excited to return to OMango with Valerie again and try even more of their menu.  Until I can travel to India, OMango in Aurora is the next best thing!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipe Round Up

Thanksgiving is almost here!  If you are looking for some last minute gluten free and allergen friendly Thanksgiving recipes, look no further!  Here is a list of some delicious crowd-pleasing recipes.

If this is your first time cooking for someone with food allergies or intolerances, be sure to check out my How Do I Cook Gluten Free For You? entry.

Cornstarch Gravy

Gluten-Free Stuffed Celery Bites

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread with Apples and Thyme Recipe

Gluten-Free Cornbread Dressing Recipe

Udi’s Gluten Free Stuffing Recipe

Gluten Free Stuffing

Wild Rice Stuffing With Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries, and Fresh Herbs

Mom's Mashed Potatoes

Gluten free green bean casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

Grandma’s Pie Crust
Homemade Gluten-Free Apple Pie

Sweet Potato Pie Cookies with Orange Glaze
(Be sure to substitute your favorite gluten free all purpose flour mix)
Have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back on dairy?

On Friday night, I was craving pizza.  I am normally not one to crave things so strongly, so I decided to give in to temptation.  My local grocery store has a pretty decent gluten and dairy free selection, but there is only one option for frozen gluten free pizza.  With cheese.

I've spent years thinking about when would be a good time to do a dairy challenge.  Friday nights are the best since I can have the whole weekend to recover.  I have been working most weekends and have non-stop things to do, so normally I don't have a weekend "off".  With an uncharacteristic free weekend ahead, I decided now or never with a simple dairy challenge.

I ate an entire cheese pizza (I was hungry) and had no major side effects.  Just really minor things that don't cause any concern.

My goal has been to be able to tolerate some dairy again.  Mainly, so I can go out to eat and only be "gluten free".  I am not rushing to the dairy case to buy a gallon of milk or a carton of ice cream anytime soon.  I love the dairy free alternatives.  I now know that if I go out and I hear that the delicious chicken I just ate was marinated in yogurt (as was the case in an Indian restaurant on Saturday), I can enjoy the meal wondering where the nearest bathroom is, getting nauseous, or having a panic attack.  It frees me to enjoy more foods again, but everything in moderation!  I can now sneak chocolate kisses from the candy bowl at my mom's house come Christmas time, but should probably stop at two instead of two handfuls.

I have been dairy free since Spring 2009, gluten free since June 2010 and low fructose since February 2012.  Has anyone else experienced a food intolerance disappearing as time goes on and the gut heals?

GIG Recap: Gluten Free Beers and Simple Squares

Our October Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) meeting was all about healthy snacks and delicious drinks!

First up in our packed and tasty meeting was Simple Squares.  Founder and Chief Square Kimberly talked about the origin of Simple Squares and how they are a tasty snack.  All of the squares have five ingredients or less and are perfect for snacking on the go.  She shared samples of her soon-to-be released coffee flavor square.  What a great morning snack!  Simple Squares are organic whole food snack bars with vanilla and herbs - without any wheat. gluten, dairy, soy or refined sugar!  I try to always have some squares on hand for grab and go snacks.

In honor of Halloween, SurfSweets sent us their spooky spider gummies!  These are perfect treats to give kids for Halloween without worrying about allergens or high fructose corn syrup!  Their fun shapes even brought smiles to the adults in the room.

We sampled several different types of gluten free beers and ciders.  I tried everyone that was available, had around a dozen empty cups at the end (don't worry - they weren't poured to the top) and found some new favorites.

Gluten free beer has been transforming over the years.  Bard's Beer is perfect for traditional beer lovers - its sorghum flavoring hits the spot (and is perfect for making beer brats).  New Grist also carries a sorghum based beer that we tried.  We sampled three different options from Green's - wow - some of these had the largest amount of alcohol and tasted great!  Pace yourself!  Goose Island recently introduced Queen-OA, a quinoa based beer from Chicago's popular brewery.  My new favorite is New Planet beer - there are three assorted flavors (Tread Lightly Ale, 3R Raspberry Ale, and Off Grid Pale Ale) and are perfect for those who love fruity flavors in the style of malt beverages like me!

The best part about the tasting was that everyone had their own new favorite and we all tried some very delicious beers.  Gluten free beers can be expensive, so having several companies provide samples for our group has been the best way to see what is out there!  This was our second annual Gluten Free Octoberfest Beer Tasting and I can't wait to see what products are on the market next year!

What is your favorite gluten free beer?  Leave a message in the comments!

Our next meeting is Monday, November 5 and we will be talking about gluten free Thanksgiving, swapping recipes, and sampling some bread.  We meet in the South Loop Whole Food's classroom at 8:00pm!  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gluten Free Bread Bowl Soup

Soup belongs in a bread bowl.  Period.  Just because I am gluten free does not mean that my days of eating soup this delicious way is over!  I used one package of Bob's Red Mill's Gluten Free Homemade Wonderful Bread to form four tasty, you won't believe its gluten free, bread bowls.  After experimenting with their delicious thirteen bean soup mix, I found chorizo to be a great pairing for soup with a kick.

Check out my guest blog post on Bob's Red Mill's site for the recipe and more pictures of the delicious soup!  The recipe is gluten free, dairy free and packed with flavor!

Bob's Red Mill and I want you to try this recipe yourself at home!  So much so that is having its first ever giveaway!  Three lucky winners will receive a package of the GF bread mix and the 13 bean soup mix just in time for warming up with a delicious fall soup.  Leave a comment on this entry before November 5, 2012 to be entered.  Let me know what your favorite bean is OR why you love to be gluten free!  Good luck!  And check back on November 6, 2012 for the winners!!