Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gluten Free Lunches and Secret Weapons

I was recently asked by a friend who was thinking about doing a month long trial of gluten free, WHAT do you eat for lunch?? I admit, eating gluten free leaves me with a lot of dirty dishes. I cook, and cook, and cook some more. I was THRILLED to get a text last week telling me that since she went gluten free a couple of weeks ago, she hasn't had ONE headache! SO exciting!! I thought I would share a few of the things I've been doing for lunch lately. In the beginning I made salads at home, but that got old and boring REAL quick.
 Lately, I've been on a sauteed veggie kick for lunch. It's super fast, and only dirties one pan (none if I grill them!). Experimenting with different combinations is fun and keeps me excited to try new veggies. Up top, I sauteed some broccolini (which was a first for me and I loved it!) in a pan with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper for a few minutes by itself since it takes longer to cook, then added big chunks of fresh asparagus and sliced mushrooms. I could eat asparagus and mushrooms every day. At the end, I added a bit of butter, and fresh garlic, then melted some shredded Parmesan cheese.
 Here, I used some skinny local asparagus from the farmers' market, mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash. I used the same method as I did above.
 This picture is the bottom of my bowl today (when it dawned on me to take a picture). I simply cut up tiny Persian cucumbers from Trader Joe's, a ripe tomato, fresh basil, and drizzled a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I used fresh garlic, pepper, and a bit of Himalayan Pink Salt to season it. I know I need protein, so I ate it with a side of bacon! Ha! Not sure if bacon is in the meat or fat section of the food pyramid, but I've cut out so many bad things, that I don't care! No one is taking away bacon once a week!
This my friends, is a brainstorm gone terribly right. I have never really been an avocado person, weird, I know! For some reason I felt like I might like it if I opened it up, added salt and pepper, then topped it with either feta or cotija cheese, then gave it a simple drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Guess what? I LOVED it! I eat them like this all the time now. 
I have the benefit of being at home most days since we home school. It is nothing for me to flip on the gas grill and cook a fresh piece of salmon and some asparagus. These asparagus are seasoned with a bit of melted butter and Montreal seasoning. 
I don't do it often, but when I make it to Fresno and pick up some Udi's gluten free pizza crusts, it's easy to make a pesto pizza with tomatoes and fresh basil. I've tried the dry pizza crust mixes and I just did NOT like feeling like I was eating a brick. This crust gets crisp and light.
Now we get to the secret weapons I've learned in the past few months. Chipotle salads are what I eat at least once a week (not always at lunchtime though). If you look at their website, you'll see that you're GF ok as long as you don't eat the flour tortillas. That means you can have a salad, burrito bowl, or crunchy tacos and fill them to your heart's content with all their tasty goodness. I am a sucker for their salads though because of their vinaigrette. It is like crack.

For snacking I love to keep baggies of raw almonds and Guittard semisweet chocolate chips. Their chocolate is GF and it is my all-time favorite anyway. Score! 
My last secret weapon is these GF Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies! My entire family goes crazy for them. Heat them up for a few seconds in the microwave if you like to make them soft again after they cool. I add about 3/4 bag of Guittard chocolate chips to her recipe, and instead of grinding my own almonds I just use a cup of Almond Meal from Trader Joe's. It might sound like it's a complicated recipe, but it's not. The second time you make them, you'll have it down pat and have your cookies ready for the oven in five minutes. Trust me, I've made these dozens of times. I bake mine on parchment paper and they just slide right off. I am tempted to mix in a bit of Chia seeds next time and see if the kids notice. These cookies are better than any boxed GF mix you will ever find. Trust me! Just make sure you use gluten free oats.

This last picture is just so you can see what the almond meal looks like. It's super cheap at Trader Joe's. I also picked up that GF flour to use if I need to thicken anything. That opens up a whole new world. My husband saw it and immediately yelled "Gluten free fried chicken!!" Ha ha. I haven't tried it yet, but I may splurge and try it soon to see how it turns out with this flour. Hopefully these ideas help! As always, please check your products and seasonings to ensure your brand is gluten free, don't take my word for it! ;)

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