Kielbasa Stir Fry

You might be thinking, kielbasa stir fry? Is Debi mad?

I just might be, but this is something I’ve made for nearly twenty years because my roommate and I were trying to figure out something cheap and easy. Kielbasa and frozen mixed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots over rice (because rice is the staple back home). Kielbasa stir fry was born.

Making it with the frozen vegetable mix makes it super easy. Your only prep is slicing the kielbasa. For best results thaw the vegetables first and drain to get rid of as much liquid as you can. If you throw them in frozen, that’s okay, too. It will take longer to cook and you’ll need to drain off liquid.

You can make this with fresh vegetables as I did in the picture above, too. You can either blanch your vegetables to get them to cook faster or just throw them in your wok/skillet. I like using the broccolette as I did above because it cooks faster than broccoli and I don’t feel the need to take the extra step to blanch. Why dirty more pots?

I sometimes double this recipe knowing we won’t have leftovers, especially if I don’t serve it with rice, because we tend to get seconds on this.

Kielbasa Stir Fry serves 3-4

1 pound kielbasa, sliced

1 pound California mix vegetables (frozen), thawed (optional)  OR 1 onion, halved & sliced; 2 bunches broccolette or broccoli, chopped; & 3 carrots, sliced thin

salt

pepper

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add kielbasa, stir minimally and let it sweat. If using frozen vegetables, let the kielbasa brown then remove. Add vegetables and season with salt and pepper. If the vegetables were still frozen, keep an eye on the liquid and drain it off if too much accumulates at the bottom. If you are using fresh vegetables, add in the onion once the kielbasa is sweating and let the onions sweat for a few minutes. Do not do a lot of stirring. Add in the remaining vegetables on top and season with salt and pepper. Let the vegetables remain on the top to catch steam as the kielbasa and onion start to brown. After a few minutes, stir and leave to cook for a few minutes. Repeat this until the broccolette/broccoli and carrots are uniformly bright in color. Remove from heat.

Serve over rice or cauliflower rice.

The Jokes Aren’t Funny

Phone 1 488

Accidentally using a soup mug for your coffee is funny. Jokes about the gluten-free diet are not.

There is a rise of gluten-free jokes on social media and on TV and the people telling the jokes and laughing at the jokes appear to have no concept of what it is like to live gluten-free. The fact is most of the general public still views the diet as a fad and that many people go on the diet without any idea of what they are doing or what gluten is just because a celebrity is doing it or a friend told them to do it. The rest of us, the 1 in 133, with Celiac or Non-Celiac Gluten-Intolerance are on the diet for medical reasons. When the jokes are made we are grouped in with the target of the jokes and we don’t find them funny. It’s bad enough we have no control over our illness, but now we are being made fun of for having it. The jokes are gallows humor to us and for gallows humor to work, it needs to be told by those of us living a gluten-free life because of the medical condition, not all the Tom, Dick, and Harrys out there.

It may seem funny to throw out jokes like “I don’t want to talk about my gluten intolerance, said no one ever.” Throwing something gluten-laden at someone with Celiac may garner a laugh on TV, but it’s not a joke for us. Smashing a cake in my face is as funny as throwing peanuts at someone with a peanut allergy. So many of the jokes are laced with a mean spirit, even if they aren’t, that’s how it seems to us because we are living with a serious disease that can affect all of the systems in our body when gluten enters our body.

I do my best to be kind to the joke-tellers when the joke really bothers me and educate them on why we don’t see them as humorous. Sometimes I ignore the jokes because I don’t have the time. But it’s Celiac Awareness Month so this post is for all those joke-tellers out there using gallows humor incorrectly.

Here are some reasons why the jokes aren’t funny:

  1. Many of us spend decades ill and seeking answers before we are correctly diagnosed with Celiac or Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance. We may talk about our diet more than we might when we see changes. Wouldn’t you after years of poor health? You better believe I was shouting it from the rooftops when my lifetime of “clumsiness” and decades of migraines and vertigo were gone.
  2. Celiac and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance are very real medical conditions. They are not made up in our head. Do you joke about other chronic illnesses? Lupus? Fibromyalgia? Cancer?
  3. Our lives change drastically with the diagnosis. We have to read every label on our food, medication, and personal care products before buying them or using them. We have to learn the gluten derivatives so we know when we see them on the labels.
  4. We have to research food options when dining out. You get the entire menu to choose from. On vacation last December, we ate somewhere where I had three. There are times when we go out with people and I have no options and have to bring something with me or wait until after to eat.
  5. Gluten hides and it’s not just cutting out bread, pizza, and baked goods. We have to be careful of soups, sauces, dressings, seasonings, and everything our food could come in contact with when prepared in our own homes or by someone else. Buffets were once my comfort, they are now my worst nightmare.
  6. It is not an allergy, but it is just as serious as an allergy to us. Already with the decades of misdiagnosis we’ve suffered with gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, psychiatric, endocrine issues and more. It might not be the same as an anaphylactic reaction, but a fraction of a crumb can take us down for weeks and the internal effects last up to six months.
  7. We can’t kiss our significant other without knowing what they’ve eaten or made them brushed their teeth thoroughly. You can’t “kill” allergens. They can’t simply rinse with mouthwash and everything is a-okay. It does kill spontaneous intimacy because one or both has to be thinking about it so the gluten-free partner doesn’t get sick from a kiss.
  8. Jokes about us not being able to eat anything because nothing is left is completely off-the-mark. You think my options are limited based on what I can’t have and what you feel you could never give up, but you are wrong. I can cook delicious meals with a variety of fresh food. You know, the kinds of meals our ancestors ate before processed foods took over our diets.
  9. Naturally gluten-free foods are fantastic. They don’t taste horrible and just because you go on a “special diet” for medical reasons doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste. Joking about tasteless gluten-free food just reinforces a myth to people who might need to be on the diet and build fears about food. When I was working I normally took my lunch to work. Once I had to go gluten-free, I had to take my own lunch. My co-workers always commented on how good my food looked and smelled.

On the NCIS episode “Psych Out”, Dr. Samanatha Ryan (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) fires back at Dr. Rachel Cranston’s (played by Wendy Makkena) joke about lactose intolerance with “It’s a diagnosis not a fad.”

If you remember nothing else, remember it’s a diagnosis not a fad.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Toasted Coriander Lime Dressing

Grilled Chicken Salad with Toasted Coriander Lime DressingI wanted to do something bigger for the start of Celiac Awareness Month, but allergies combined with several other things have kept me down for the week. I managed to get in for an allergy treatment on Tuesday and I felt a little better after being treated for plant phenols (part of the chemical makeup of plants). I was reacting not only to nature while outside, but pretty much everything I was eating. My doctor said it was no wonder I felt like my body was trying to kill me. Seriously. I went in and told him I felt like my body was trying to kill me before giving him my laundry list of symptoms. I will be glad when we are done peeling this ginormous onion.

I should be sleeping right now, but I had to at least put this together quickly.

Yes, it is that time of year that everyone is posting about Celiac Awareness Month. This is the opportunity we take to help educate those new to a medically necessary gluten-free diet or those wanting to learn more because someone they love is on the diet.

This year, I want to challenge those of you who are veterans of the diet to make everyday an awareness day. I’ve stated before that it is our responsibility to educate others daily in a kind manner. This means not using vilification towards others when our diets are under fire from someone. This is a difficult thing to do because our natural reaction is defensive. Maybe if more of us can respond in a more rational manner to people there will be less jokes about our diet and more understanding of how it truly affects on a daily basis. Most people don’t know we have to learn what the derivatives of gluten are in food products and that we  have to be diligent about reading labels if we buy something packaged and when we use personal care products. We are our own best advocates and if we want to advocate for the entire community, we need to have cool heads about us to teach/correct the general public. Reactionary behavior/words only serves to inflame everyone and make us look like the irrational militants many people think we are.

In other words, BE NICE.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Toasted Coriander Lime Dressing – serves 2

2 chicken breasts

salt

pepper

1 romaine heart, chopped

3 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped

5 radishes, sliced

4 mini-sweet peppers, sliced

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons coriander seed

Season both sides of chicken breast with salt and pepper and set aside to come to room temperature. Grill chicken breasts until they reach an internal temperature of 185º. Let rest on a cutting board. Place coriander seed in a dry pan and toast over medium heat until fragrant. Grind the seeds in a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together romaine, spinach, radishes, and sweet peppers. In a small mixing bowl, add lime juice, olive oil, coriander seed, and a pinch of salt. Whisk together well. Slice chicken breasts. Plate the salad with chicken on top and pour dressing over the salad, including the chicken.

*If you want more depth to your salad, add grilled onions and fresh chopped cilantro. If you or someone you love has a lime allergy use apple cider vinegar.