Archive for February, 2014

February 22, 2014

Give Me Another KISS – The Keep It Simple Stupid Kind

A few days of cooking in a kitchen with a meager pantry selection has reminded me that Keep It Simple Stupid can be a valuable rule when cooking. If you are easily overwhelmed by long lists of ingredients or complicated techniques, save those for special occasions or for people who like to cook more than you do.

It’s possible to make tasty food with a short list of ingredients. In the past week, I made nachos, baked tilapia, pork loin roast, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, several salads, and salad dressing in a kitchen that had a pantry stocked with only salt, garlic powder, paprika, lemon pepper, Emeril’s Seasoning, and honey. The refrigerator contained ground beef, tilapia, lemons, American Cheese Singles and prepared mustard. The “chip” food group was available with a sufficient supply of tortilla chips, potato chips, pretzels, and Cheetos®.

nachos

I knew none of this in advance. I only knew I was staying with a friend who recently moved and that it was important to me to eat gluten-free, eat at regular intervals, and spend as little as possible on tasty, satisfying food. With these goals in mind, I made a stop at Whole Foods on the way from the airport. It would have been a stop at The Fresh Market, but Siri and I had a fight or two after she sent me in circles through a snow covered neighborhood with no grocery stores. During one of the grand loops, I happened to notice a Whole Foods sign.

At Whole Foods I purchased an onion, broccoli, some Yukon gold potatoes, bananas, blackberries, a quart of plain yogurt, a pint of half & half, maché, feta cheese, raw almonds, a small pork loin roast, some gluten-free pretzels, and local handmade pimento cheese. This gave me foods for breakfast and snacks for several days plus at least one meal. Satisfied that I was sufficiently prepared, I headed for a coffee shop to await my friend’s return from work.

As dinnertime approached, I became the designated preparer of host-requested nachos. Looking through the cabinet, I was concerned about my ability to pull this off without chili powder, cumin, or any kind of butter or oil to keep the meat from sticking. Nonetheless, I grabbed a large nonstick skillet, the ground beef and gave it a shot. Seasoned with salt, garlic powder, a sprinkle of Emeril’s Seasoning (not sure if it was Emeril’s Essence or Steak Rum) and paprika, then topped with American cheese, the nachos turned out surprisingly tasty and satisfying. I turned mine into a salad of sorts by serving them over maché.

The next day, my friend marinated tilapia in lemon pepper and white wine. I baked the marinated fish and served it with cheesy mashed potatoes. After boiling large chunks of clean, but unpeeled potatoes in water, I drained them then took a fork and mashed them right in the pan. I added a sprinkle of salt and enough half & half to make them moist and creamy. I ripped some American cheese slices into smaller squares and mashed them into the potatoes, stirring until the cheese melted and was evenly distributed. Yukon gold potatoes have a buttery flavor, so the lack of butter in the refrigerator went unnoticed in the finished product. The potatoes weren’t perfectly smooth or whipped, but that’s how I prefer mashed potatoes so I was happy with the result.

And so it went for the rest of the week. I made a honey mustard glaze for the pork loin roast. Yogurt, lemon juice and seasoning served as salad dressing. The broccoli was adorned with only salt. Once I knew what I had to work with, I never felt limited. In fact, there was something refreshing about the simplicity of having fewer choices. And because the flavor of the fresh ingredients varied, the food all tasted different even though the seasonings were similar.

I love complex of layers of flavor, but I love simple too. It was good to have that reminder. It always comes back to a KISS, doesn’t it?

What’s your favorite way to cook simply?

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

February 14, 2014

Give Me a Kiss!

I may be gluten-free, but you can still give me a KISS for Valentine’s Day!

Hershey's Kisses

Last minute shoppers who have a gluten-free sweetheart are in luck – everyone loves a kiss and most of us love a chocolate kiss. In a pinch you can find HERSHEY’S KISSES® at most grocery stores, wholesale clubs, dollar stores, drug stores, and convenience stores.

 

The following flavors are gluten-free:

HERSHEY’S MINI KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates

HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolates

HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolates with Almonds

HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolates filled with Caramel

HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolates filled with Cherry Cordial Creme

HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolates filled with Coconut Creme

HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolates filled with Mint Truffle

HERSHEY’S KISSES SPECIAL DARK Mildly Sweet Chocolates

Cherry Kiss

Pair a handful of kisses with a newborn diaper and you have instant “Huggies and Kisses” for your favorite Valentine. If you’re a new parent, this gift will be fast, easy, and still express your love in a very sweet way.

Whether you go all out, or keep it simple, all of us who are gluten-free appreciate the thoughtfulness of a gift that’s both delicious and gluten-free. When you take a moment to find that perfect gluten-free expression, it reminds us that you support us being healthy even when it’s sometimes inconvenient for you. Thank you for your thoughtfulness!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/special-nutrition.aspx#/Gluten-Free

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

February 12, 2014

When It’s Done, It’s Done

In the past couple of days I’ve had two reminders of how important it is to recognize that when it’s done, it’s done. This week is Ben’s birthday. He may be 30ish years old, but he loves to still play like a kid.

Okay, I must confess, I love to play like a kid too. Put our heads together and you never know what sort of plan we’ll cook up. This year, we decided to plan a combined birthday party…at a trampoline park.

trampolines

Ben invited his friends. I carefully selected from my friends those who seemed to think jumping around for a couple of hours sounded fun. We booked a birthday party for 10.

Since we were planning to play like children, I decided to make kid snacks that included cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

I had no trouble finding gluten-free ice cream cones. I even have a metal rack that holds the cones in place so they don’t spill while they’re baking– easy peasy. The cake batter was quick and easy to throw together even though I was out of brown rice flour. I just substituted white rice flour, filled the cones, popped them in the oven, and set the timer.

After 15 minutes, I decided the cakes needed a couple more minutes. At 17 minutes, I inserted a toothpick and it came out clean. I know that means the cakes are done, but they weren’t even beginning to brown so I decided to leave them 2 or 3 more minutes. Why? I guess it just felt weird for the tops to look so white. I dunno.

Ice Cream Cones

What I do know is that while they tasted good, the overcooking made the cupcakes dry. So arrived my first reminder that when things are done they’re done. Go with it. If you don’t there will be undesirable consequences.

Ben is still learning this lesson. He jumped, flipped, played dodge ball, bounced and had a blast for three solid hours. After two hours, he suffered an ill landed 2.5 revolution flip into the foam pit. Was he done? Perhaps he should have been.

The party was Sunday. On Monday, Ben could hardly move. He hurt everywhere except his calves. Yesterday, he shifted his weight onto his left leg to step into his car. It gave way and he fell prone on the driveway. He said everything that didn’t hurt on Monday was hurting.

What have I concluded from the past few days? Pay attention! Trust the information you’re receiving. Stop second-guessing everything. When you see evidence that something is done, for goodness sake, let it be done!

February 4, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention As They Say…

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say it – perhaps your grandmother, and perhaps often. Like other things you’ve been told over and over – you’re just borrowing trouble, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, you need to eat something that will stick to your ribs – you may just roll your eyes and immediately dismiss the idea.

The traditional statement would typically be accompanied by an admonition of some sort – lose weight, get a flu shot, exercise more, eat healthy, get plenty of rest, don’t drink too much, blah, blah, blah. We try, we struggle, we feel guilty, sometimes we succeed and then life throws us a curve ball that makes us wonder why we bothered.

We feel betrayed because things didn’t turn out like we thought they would. We convince ourselves that what we do doesn’t really matter and we go back to doing whatever is easiest at this very moment. We no longer feel bad about it. In fact, we may convince ourselves that we have reduced our stress level and therefore are now doing the best thing possible.

Presto chango, that’s how easy it is to create a scenario that keeps us happily entrenched in horrible habits.

When it comes to our health, horrible habits can lead us down a miserable path. It is in this area that a little planning can make a significant difference in the quality of choices we have down the road.

This thought is fresh on my mind. I’ve spent many recent hours driving to and from hospital visits with an older relative. I’ve watched the cascade of diagnoses solidify to renal artery stenosis and the treatment options dwindle from medical to angioplasty to surgery to dialysis…maybe. During this three-month journey, I’ve observed many previous decisions that are resulting in limited options for improvement at this point.

A 20 year diet of saltine crackers, Dr. Pepper, and cherry pie; inactivity; mega consumption of unregulated dietary supplements; off-book use of chelation therapy; refusal to consider surgery at a time it was viable – all of these choices have led us to today when the news from the doctors was, “We’re not going to do anything.”

I know it can take more planning to eat properly. I know it takes time to get out and walk or run or play tennis or eat properly. I know it’s hard to get enough rest or have enough down time. I also know that planning enough to make healthy habits possible can result in a longer, higher-quality life. I know your children want this for you. I hope you want it for yourself.

Still can’t get your mind around an ounce of prevention? What if we rephrase and say, “A little planning now puts you in a position to have both higher quantity and quality of choices later?” Does that sound easier to accept and absorb? What do you think?

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