Introduction to Gluten-Free Batch Cooking

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Just a few days ago one of my Facebook friends was lamenting how complicated it was feeding her family rife with food allergies.  Plus she’s expecting another baby, running a business, and generally being a kick-ass warrior mama.  I suggested she give batch cooking a try.  This is my intro to batch cooking for food allergies for the lovely Tyler and her growing family.

I’ve tried batch cooking a few times and really like it. See my review of Once A Month Meals here.  I <3 Once a Month Meals and highly recommend it for a 30-day cook-up.I’ve recently been working on a “Eat from the Freezer and Stop Wasting Money, A-hem” project and will gear up for a big batch cook once I’ve made some room.

Tyler posted a list of what her family is allergic to and this is my attempt to introduce her to batch cooking.  So, a few meal ideas to accommodate allergies to eggs, gluten, dairy, soy, spelt, amaranth, cranberries, citrus, broccoli, almonds, peanuts, cane sugar, and whey. (To which I say Piece of cake!)

Menu:

Entrees:

  • Roast chicken
  • Chicken enchiladas
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Tacos
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Fried rice
  • Teryiaki chicken legs and wings
  • Pork shoulder or chuck roast
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Potatoes: boiled, roasted, mashed

Breakfasts:

  • Breakfast sausage
  • Bacon
  • Home fries
  • Gluten-free muffins
  • Smoothie packs

Assumptions:

  1. I’m assuming you have a slower cooker, oven, and several large pots and pans. I use large Ziploc bags for freezer storage.  It stacks, it’s cheap, and I wrap food in parchment paper as much as possible to minimize contact with the plastic.  I just don’t have adequate Pyrex for freezing.  Only freeze glass that’s tempered, like Pyrex or Anchor.  Regular glass, e.g., Mason jars, gets micro-cracks and shatters easily.
  2. Always choose organic or non-GMO corn, put your organic dollars toward meat, healthy fats and the organic versions of the Dirty Dozen.
  3. Clean out the fridge and freezer ahead of time!

Shopping:

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  • 3 whole chickens
  • 3-4 lbs chicken wings and drumsticks
  • 6 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs ground turkey or pork
  • 2-4 packages no-sugar bacon
  • 4 lb pork shoulder or chuck roast
  • 2 lbs organic rice (I use long-grain or basmati)
  • 3 lbs organic dried beans, black or pinto, your choice
  • 1 lb Gluten-free flour blend (I like King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour Mix, Gluten-Free Girl Flour, and Bob’s Red Mill.  If you tolerate dairy, Cup4Cup is great.)
  • 2 jars organic marinara (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • Coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari
  • Organic corn tortillas for soft tacos or crispy taco shells
  • 5 lbs organic gold or red potatoes
  • 1 jar tomatilla salsa
  • 2 large jars enchilada sauce (I like Hatch)
  • Shredded cheese or Daiya cheese substitute
  • 1 jar mild salsa
  • 1 jar Organicville or San-J teriyaki sauce or homemade (Recipe here)
  • 1 bag each frozen mixed vegetables, frozen peas and carrots, frozen spinach, frozen fruit mix or strawberries, frozen blueberries,
  • 2-3 limes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1-2 onions
  • 1 bunch bananas
  • Spices:  fennel, garlic, paprika, black pepper, sage, cayenne pepper, white pepper, ground cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, Italian spice mix, dried basil
  • Salt (I suggest sea salt, kosher, Real Salt or pink himalaya salt)
  • Cooking oils: I suggest coconut oil, ghee, Spectrum shortening, avocado oil

Prep:

  1. Roast 2 chickens in oven. My recipe is here. Quarter one cooked chicken for serving, 20131129-163752shred meat off second chicken.  Save all bones, skin, etc., for broth.
  2. Stew 1 whole chicken in large pot with a fair bit of water, 1/2 an onion, salt, pepper, parsley. Shred chicken, reserve broth, save all the bones, skin, etc., for broth.
  3. Brown 4 lbs ground beef. You can add minced onion, if you prefer.
  4. Prep and parboil 5 lbs of organic yukon gold potatoes (Easy hack parboiling and peeling here. Here are directions for freezing and then roasting and mashing potatoes)
  5. Bake 2 packages of bacon, on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 15-20 minutes at 400, just like Ina Gartner.

Big Cook-Up and Assembly:

1. Make extra large batch of rice: 4 cups dried rice in 8 cups salted, boiling water, reduce heat and cover for 20 mins, or in rice cooker according to directions.

2. Throw 1-2 pounds of dried beans into the slow cooker or in a large pot on the stove top. Lots of water, more than you think you’ll need.  Add salt!!

3. Make meatballs:  Mix 2 lbs ground beef 4 tbsp Italian seasoning, 4 tsp salt, form into 20130629-140511balls, bake on parchment- or foil-lined and greased baking sheet for 20 mins at 375. Let cool. Toss meatballs into labelled, gallon-size Ziplock bag, freeze.

4. Mix 1 and 1/2 c. ground beef with taco seasoning:

  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot or potato starch
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Put in labelled, gallon-sized Ziplock, freeze.

5. Make gluten-free muffins.  If you have left over oatmeal, these are delicious. Use img_4709-0coconut sugar or date sugar if you’re avoiding cane sugar.  This recipe from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef is delicious, flexible and it can be made egg free and sugar free. I’ve made it several times with a variety of flour blends and it always works.  Read the directions.  So worthwhile!

6. Make Shepherd’s Pie:

  • In large saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • Add 1 c. sliced mushrooms, cook until soft
  • Add 1 c. frozen peas and carrots, cook until soft
  • Add 1 and 1/2 c. ground beef, stir to combine
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 c chicken or beef broth, 1 Tbsp gluten-free flour, 2 Tbsp GF worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add to meat mixture. Heat until sauce thickens.
  • Put meat mixture into a greased baking dish or foil pan for freezing
  • Pull out 4-6 par-boiled potatoes and make mashed potatoes
  • Top meat mixture with mashed potatoes. Cover. Freeze.

7. Make breakfast sausage using either ground turkey or pork, your choice. This recipe looks delicious.  You can cook it up in patties, or freeze the patties uncooked.  Wrap them in parchment or freezer paper.

8. Smoothie packs. In 4 one-gallon-sized Ziplock bags, in each bag add 1-2 sliced bananas, then divvy up frozen fruit, frozen blueberries, at least 1 cup frozen spinach. Seal and freeze.

9. Make fried rice. In a large sauté pan, add 1 Tbsp oil, cook 1 c. frozen mixed vegetables, add 4 cups rice, 4 pieces chopped bacon, 2-3 Tbsp coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari. Finish with 1 tsp toasted sesame oil if tolerated. Let cool, freeze in large Ziplock, being careful to remove all extra air.

photo-1110. Bake chicken wings and legs.  Toss with teriyaki sauce. Bundle and freeze.

11. Prep layered chicken enchiladas. Spread a 1/4-1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking dish or foil pan for freezing.  Line with soft corn tortillas. Add a layer of shredded chicken, then a layer of beans,  1 cup of enchilada sauce, shredded cheese or Daiya substitute if tolerated.  Repeat layers, ending with a layer of tortillas and another cup of enchilada sauce.  Top with cheese if tolerated.  Freeze immediately.  To serve, thaw, and bake for 30-45 mins at 350.

12. Pork shoulder: follow directions for Kalua Pork from NomNomPaleo.com.  For chuck roast, simply throw it in the crockpot after the beans are done, throw a jar of tomatillo salsa on top and cook on low for 8-12 hours.

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13. Home fries with bacon: In a large sauté pan, heat oil or bacon fat, add 1/2 an onion thinly slices, cook on medium low heat until soft.  Add 4-6 cups cubed par-boiled potatoes.  Cook thoroughly, allowing the edges to brown and get crispy. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add 4-6 pieces crumbled bacon.

14. Whenever your crockpot’s available, pull all those chicken carcasses out, throw them in the crock pot, cover with water, add 1/2 an onion, 1-2 Tbsp vinegar, cook on low and make a big batch of broth.  You always need broth!

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OK, this should stock your freezer with lots of good dinner and breakfast options. Pull your meal choice out of the freezer the night before and thaw it in the fridge. Serve with fresh veggies of your choice.

Bon appétit!

Posted in Managing allergies, Meal plans, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An encouraging word about autism recovery

This came across my Facebook feed and I wanted to share it.  Autism recovery is real, and good nutrition is the cornerstone!

Predominantly Paleo and a happy story about a military family.

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Yoga and Healing

So, first, this blog on selfishness re-runs on Thinking Moms’ Revolution.  Hmmm, I think to myself. Perhaps I need to refresh my point of view…

Then the next day I saw a post on Facebook in Garner Style’s feed and it featured a plus-sized woman who goes by @biggalyoga on Instagram UPSIDE DOWN.  My mind…blown.  She’s allowed to do that?

Day 16 of the #SelfLovingYogis March 16-Day Yoga Challenge! Last day of the challenge! It's been so awesome to see you all participating! You guys are all so wonderful! Even after the challenge I hope guys can keep using the hashtag #selflovingyogis to keep promoting self love through yoga! When things get tough we sometimes have to stop and take some self love and care for ourselves. I felt like my body was burning out during the challenge, and had to make sure I took care of body. Always listen to your body and take care of it! We all get discouraged in our practice, but remember to not take it so seriously and have fun! Much love to you all! 💜Leggings by @fractal.9 💜 Swim top by @Forever21 ✳ How to join in: 1. Take photo of yourself in the daily pose. 2. Tag #SelfLovingYogis 3. Tag/follow myself @biggalyoga and the Sponsors @stardancerdesigns and @fractal.9 💛OPTION 1 You can choose to do the daily pose I am doing for the 16 days or OPTION 2 You can choose to do your own set of daily poses for the 16 days. 💛 either way as long as you are promoting self love through your yoga practice! #yogalove #yogatherapy #yogaforeverybody #yogaforeveryone #yogaateverysize #yogaatanysize #yogaforall #bodypositive #bodypositivity #selflove #bodylove #effyourbeautystandards #effyourbodystandards #yoga #yogi #yogini #curvyyoga #curvyyogi #plussizeyoga #fatyoga #biggalyoga #yogachallenge #namaste #motivated #motivation #lovethebodyyouarein #yogachallenge #yogaeverydamnday #yogaaday

A photo posted by @biggalyoga on

That was the word I got stuck on…allowed.  Since when has there been a gate keeper of what’s allowed? The body police? And that’s when it hit me that I’m the gate keeper. I’m the body police. Gah.  That was a hard nugget to swallow.

So for 16 days (plus a few more since the challenge wrapped up) I choked that nugget down, put myself on a mat or on the floor and pushed my own limits.  It may not look like it, but limits were pushed.  I swear.

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I participated in @biggalyoga’s Instagram challenge called #SelfLovingYogis.  It was completely unexpected.  And I loved it.  I think one day I’ll look back and identify this little challenge as a turning point in my health and healing.

Yeah, really.

It hasn’t been a day or night, 180 degree turn around kind of a situation.  It’s been more of a subtle shift.  It was a “light dawns on Marblehead” kind of thing and realization spread slowly.

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I’m hopeful in a way I haven’t been previous to this challenge. I’ve been in need of shift of perspective and I think healing mama is only going to help healing my babies. And now I’m doing #yogaeverydamnday.

Namaste.

Posted in Chronic Fatigue/Fibro, Therapies | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The high price of bulk bins

just a quick visual reminder… 

That’s a peanut and some peanut shells in a bulk bin of beans at the local grocery store. There were no peanuts near this particular bin, so I can’t blame it on sloppy cross-bin contamination. 

It pays to be vigilant. Closed packaging looks so much more attractive, even if I’m paying a few cents more. 

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Turn About for Autism

Locals!  There is a 1-day workshop in Pleasanton on Saturday, April 18. I’ll be part of the parents’ panel at the end of the day. Lots of things you can do immediately to help your child. 

Please join us!!

http://www.turnaboutforautism.com/

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What do you do when your chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia flares up?

As I try to crawl out this latest CFS/fibro flare…well, I’m more in a tie-a-knot-and-hang-on phase…I’ve been approaching this one a little differently.  I’m not despairing.  That alone is an improvement.  I took a few minutes, calmed myself down, and tried to imagine what I would say to someone who was brand new to chronic fatigue…or even just brand new to the idea that you can feel better by changing a few things.

AAR-20002-11. Respect the fatigue.  It’s a hungry, angry beast and if I ignore it, pester it, or mock it, it will bite me in the ass.  Sometimes it will feel like a literal bite if the whole fatigue-inflammation cascade stirs up my sciatica.  I’ve been trying to sleep more, taking epsom salt baths as soon as I feel the whole body achiness starting to stir, and putting my feet UP every afternoon.  Last week I started watching The Good Wife on Netflix because I needed to park myself, get my feet up but not sleep because I had a little computer work to do or it was too late in the day for a nap.  Even if you’re not sleeping well, or you’re just resting, getting your feet up makes it easier to think when you have chronic fatigue. (A book I read that discussed orthostatic intolerance in fibro used this question as a diagnostic tool: Do you prefer to read sitting up or laying down?  If you need your feet up to read, you’ve likely got orthostatic intolerance…which is another blog post.)

IMG_57102. Don’t eat crap.  Learn from my mistake!  I typically get too tired to cook and eat whatever I can grab.  Since my energy is flagging, that usually triggers big carb loading “meals” of toast (Udi’s), tortilla chips and salsa, etc.  These past two weeks I’ve stopped the  cycle a bit by making a big breakfast when I have energy, made a big pot of chili mac that fed us for a couple of days, and enjoyed turkey and bread-and-butter pickle wraps for dinner several times.  Twice I got a large take-out lunch that covered both my lunch and dinner. Minimal effort.

3. Remember what helps.  What are your go-to supplements, habits, support? Write them on a Post-It note and stick it on the inside of your supplement cabinet.  This time I remembered my adrenal support, magnesium, quercitin for allergies, taking a pinch of sea salt in water every morning, meditation, and leaning toward protein-rich meals.  After two weeks of dragging through my days and two consecutive Fridays where I couldn’t get out of bed, I saw my naturopath who added Meriva–a powerful form of curcumin, topical progesterone, and MCT oil.

What else helps?  This is my list.  Go make your own.  Seriously, go make your list because when the brain fog rolls in, you’ll thank yourself.

  • Penta water or other alkaline water.  I’m partial to Penta to the point I think of it as Chronic Fatigue Fixer.
  • Vital Adapt for adrenal support.  I LOVE this stuff.20131214-162520.jpg
  • Gluten-free, mostly paleo meals.  The two times I had rice this week I was miserable.  Dang it, I usually tolerate it well. Cook your veggies to reduce oxalates.
  • Epsom salt baths.
  • Magnesium and fiber.  Pay attention to your gut. A little extra fiber helps absorb any extra hormones your liver has been processing.
  • Be nice to your liver.  No alcohol. A glass of wine really won’t help.  Dandelion root, milk thistle, even artichokes are all supportive.  Coffee enemas if you’re up for it. (Ewww, right? It helps your liver produce glutathione.  Read more here and here.)
  • Homemade chicken broth is your friend.
  • A friend suggested bergamot essential oil, but I find I’m just sensitive to any smells at all.  I put it on my feet.
  • Gentle, restorative yoga can help ease muscle aches.

Be kind to yourself, rest as much as you can, and keep your go-tos handy.

Posted in Chronic Fatigue/Fibro | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

On support systems and asking for help

This was a bit of a rough week for me.  I had a big chronic fatigue flare up, probably   triggered by stress (ya think??) and an intense day trip to a consultation with the big guns pediatric neurologist in Sacramento.  The upshot of that appointment is more testing, more testing, and more testing.

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Waiting…and waiting…

I wouldn’t have made it through without my wildly spread out and randomly assembled support network.  So thank you!

To my oldest son for not losing it when I asked him to watch his youngest brother for 20 minutes.

To my neighbor Melissa, aka the beautiful Yummomummo for taking my youngest to school along with her brood.

To Dr Mike Slone, of Dynamic Brain Solutions, for inviting Kyle to visit him at the fire house after the appointment. That motivated him to get through the long drive, the long wait, and the long appointment.

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To Melinda at Gluten Free Specialty in Sacramento for always being so kind and welcoming when we stop by.

18105_10205658824177509_3885084957178470950_nTo Oracle, my Team TMR friend and editor, who met me at Chipotle in Vacaville because I needed a hug and a referral to an alternative therapy practitioner.

To Marivela, our nanny, for making this crazy life possible.

To my amazing husband who is off slaying dragons, conquering new markets, and bringing home the bacon, so I can stay home and do this (although, driving 250+ miles in a day for a doctor’s appointment isn’t really staying home…)

It’s a patchwork of a little village, but it’s ours.

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