Grain-free Bacon & Veg Quiche

QuicheI haven’t shared with you how my health is lately for the simple reason that it changes EVERY DAY. Or at least it feels that way.

We keep peeling back layer after layer on the onion in allergy treatments. We’ve peeled back so many layers I keep thinking that onion should be nothing by now. Evidently, it’s an ogre-sized onion. I can now have dairy and eggs, but my body hates corn and coconut oil. I had peanut butter last week for the first time in a year. It took three treatments for my body to finally accept the electrolytes in water as good for me. I had to buy distilled water to drink and cook with during the reactions. There are many things that live in our bodies that mine thinks are foreign invaders. The reactions range from sinus problems to upper GI gas and pain. That last one is a doozy. I think if I just have one good belch it will stop, and sometimes it does. Next on my list is Vitamin B. I thought I never fully recovered from the adrenal crash in December. Turns out my body is attacking the Vitamin B I’m getting from my food instead of using it like it’s supposed to.

This is what happens when we go through decades of being misdiagnosed. Our bodies get so used to attacking what it thinks is bad, when we take it away, it targets something new. Sometimes many things new.

Physically, my body decides to throw out pain signals every few days. Lately it’s been in my shoulders. It started at the shoulder blades, but now it’s the joints. I get a massage and I’m fine for a day. I see the chiropractor and I’m fine for a couple of days. Right now, I’m at frequent visits to the chiropractor to lick this thing. It really sucks when it impedes my ability to write or chop vegetables. There are days I spend all day just trying to relieve the pain naturally.

I’m having a parting of the ways with grains. It’s causing the inflammation in my hands which prevents any fine motor skills, especially in the morning the day after. This leads me back to why you’re really here – grain-free quiche.

It was the second week of having eggs back in my diet when I realized I could have quiche again. I have not had it since going gluten-free four years ago. I remember having a conversation with Shirley of gfe – gluten-free easily about gluten-free crusts. I was still fairly new and my adoration of quiche really rested on the crust. The buttery, flaky crust that just melted on the tongue. I would lovingly roll out that dough and meticulously place it in the tart pan. I knew it was best if I just didn’t even try. It turned out to be a good thing. While I still have those memories of the gluten-full crusts I used to make, they no longer rule my desire. I am content with things being different on my gluten-free diet instead of exactly the same.

Enter, grain-free crust. It’s not perfect. It will crumble a little from pan to plate, but it feels every bit as good on the palate as a gluten-full crust. At least to me. I could’ve spent more time on perfecting the crust, but the taste of it was more important to me. Plus, I wanted to give you something easy. Press it in once it is doughy and voila! Pie crust. You will need pie weights or dried beans to weigh it down for the par baking or it will rise and get fluffy. If you have a crust you prefer to use, by all means, use it. Don’t feel beholden to use mine.

If you want to make this dairy-free, use your favorite dairy-free milk. I’m used to using hard cheeses with quiche. I used cheddar once and it was okay so you could use a dairy-free cheddar, I just can’t guarantee how it will turn out since I rarely used dairy-free cheese while I was reacting to dairy. You could leave the cheese out and have something more like an egg pie or frittata in a crust or whatever you choose to call it. You will also want to sub the butter in the crust for Earth Balance or palm shortening.

If you don’t like bacon or you are a vegetarian leave out the bacon!

Grain-Free Bacon & Veg Quiche – serves 4-8
2 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville)
1/2 cup butter, softened (or palm shortening or Earth Balance)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons chilled water (I used the full 2)
6 ounces bacon, chopped (roughly 6 strips)
1 leek (approximately 3 inches of white and green part) quartered and sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch kale, chopped
salt & ground white pepper for seasoning
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk or dairy-free milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup hard cheese, shredded (Parmesan, Parmagianno-Reggiano, etc.)
Preheat the oven to 350º and set a 9″ pie pan to the side with pie weights or dried beans and parchment or wax paper. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour and salt. Add butter or shortening and cut into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives until you have pea-sized balls of flour and butter. Add the chilled water a little at a time with a fork. The pea-sized balls should start sticking together like a dough. Don’t panic if it doesn’t, just set aside the fork and use your hands. Once it comes together, place it in the pie pan and press into the bottom and sides as evenly as you can. Place the parchment paper over the crust then pour the pie weights on top. Par bake the crust for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Remove pie weights and parchment paper then set aside until ready to fill.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon. Cook it until it is browned to your liking and fat has been rendered. Do not worry about anything sticking to the bottom of the pan (if you use stainless steel like me). Add in the leeks, season with ground white pepper and cook for two minutes. Add in the the red peppers, season with salt and ground white pepper, and cook until softened. Add kale, season with salt and ground white pepper, and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl add eggs, milk, salt, and ground white pepper. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
Add half the bacon and vegetables to the pie crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle half the cheese over the mixture then add half the egg mixture. Repeat with the remainder of the mixtures and cheese. Place in the oven for 45-50 minutes. At the end of the baking time, remove and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Cinnamon Hot Cocoa with Bourbon

Hot Cocoa 2It’s March and I still long for Spring. The polar vortex dipped us down into freezing conditions yet again and though the next season is around the corner, it feels like it’s a lifetime away. One week it warmed up enough for me to wear one layer of clothes instead of three. I was actually happy with the laundry that week. I’m back to wearing layers and Chaz teasing me for wearing three pairs of socks.

Really, I just want to be able to go for a walk without all the layers and without my exposed skin freezing. Is that too much for me to ask? It is? Then what’s a tropical gal to do in these conditions? Make hot cocoa!

I’ve made it all winter and last week I decided to get a little creative with it because I knew the freeze was coming again. Everyone seemed enamored with it on social media, so I made it again to share the recipe.

Note that you can make this with real milk or with dairy-free milk. If you use full-fat coconut milk, I would recommend a bit more cinnamon if you don’t want the coconut taste. If you don’t keep raw cacao powder in your pantry, but you have dutch processed cocoa powder, you can use that instead. Also, the quality of your bourbon does matter in drinks. Cheaper bourbons tend to be more like fire rather than smooth like quality bourbon. We keep Wild Turkey and Basil Hayden in our bar. Four Roses and Woodford Reserve would be other bourbons I would recommend. I know other friends who would recommend Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Evan Williams. Given a choice, I prefer Basil Hayden. Yes, living in Kentucky for thirteen years turned me into a bourbon snob.

Cinnamon Hot Cocoa with Bourbon (serves 1)

1 1/2 – 2 cups milk or dairy-free milk

2 tablespoons raw local honey (or other sweetener of choice)

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if you like it heavy on the cinnamon)

1 teaspoon maca root powder (optional)

1 ounce good quality bourbon (I used Basil Hayden)

In a small saucepan, whisk together milk, honey, cacao powder, cinnamon, and maca root powder over medium low heat. Do not bring it to a boil. You want it to warm up enough that you can see the steam coming up from the hot cocoa. Once you see it (you might have to run the whisk through again to do so), add in the bourbon and whisk one last time. Pour into a mug. Garnish with marshmallows and more cinnamon if desired.



The Culture of “I’m Offended”

HappinessWe have a culture that seems to grow through the internet. People who state they are offended by something someone posts or shares online through social media, blogs, and websites. They are the ones who unleash a firestorm for something religious/political/[insert favorite controversial topic here] and usually end with, “I’m unfriending/unfollowing you!” We have open letters, apology letters, and blog posts that center around perceived offenses and it just multiplies each day.

There are occasions in which it is appropriate to take offense, but we don’t have to. If I were to call you the pimple on an elephant’s ass, you have every right to take offense. I attacked you personally. Or you could just ignore me and go on with life because I likely did it just to get a rise out of you.

If I am stating something that is my opinion, my experience, my perspective, it is about me and no one else. If you tell me you’re offended by something that is about me and expect me to fall on my knees and beg for forgiveness, it won’t happen. It just won’t because you are choosing to get angry over something that has nothing to do with you.

I felt the need to write about this after a little Twitter exchange earlier this week because it applies to our health issues. If you’re reading this, chances are you have Celiac, non-Celiac gluten intolerance, and/or food allergies. Or you’re a good friend/family member being uber supportive of my folly. It is easy for us to get angry and lash out online (or in person) when someone doesn’t understand and we feel like they should because we’ve been dealing with this long enough, dammit. Right? We want to scream and yell because the person made a joke in an attempt to understand, but it failed. Or it came off sounding like a joke, but you interpreted it wrong because they only have 140 characters to convey their message. Seldom, do we step back and think about their position because we are so wrapped up in our own.

Go ahead, be offended by these people. But understand that taking offense and railing at them gets you and us nowhere. They are no closer to understanding than they were to begin with and they will likely make generalizations about all of us as militaristic and crazy.

Right or wrong, many people make jokes as a coping mechanism to deal with an unknown. So we need to take a hard look at what we choose to take offense over. Is it a personal attack? Is it a troll whose sole purpose is to offend? Is it someone sharing their experience and we just don’t like/agree with it? Is it someone trying to gain understanding for our lives but flounder over what words to use?

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” (Abraham Maslow). And, no one wants to interact with Oscar the Grouch 24/7 whether in person or online. I minimize my time with negativity because it adversely affects me. I pick up and absorb moods, attitudes, accents, words, phrases, etc. I am acutely aware of every vibe the people around me give off, even online. Example, if Chaz gets mad at another driver and is still enraged about it ten minutes later, I’m on edge and jittery. Because of this, I have unfollowed bloggers and tweeters who put out nothing but negativity. The beginning of this month I declared a Facebook break because I was seeing too many people being judgmental and negative about little things that shouldn’t even matter. I’m a lot happier not scrolling through my Facebook feed even though I miss out on what my family and friends are up to.

If I were to yell, put down, and condemn every single person in my life who made a mistake about my health conditions when all they really were doing was trying to understand, no one would ever invite me over again. If every Christmas I responded to one of my in-laws saying, “The ham is gluten-free!” with an angry retort of, “How do I know you didn’t add poisonous gluten to it?”, it would be the end of Christmas with the in-laws. If I showed up to every family function with the expectation that I be catered to and was not happy with the gluten/allergy-free choices then ranted to the host, it would be the end of family functions for us. If every person who made a joke online about gluten when they were only trying to understand and I made a snide comment in return, I would only alienate them.

The tweet that enraged some people was about gluten in shampoo by a celebrity chef. It seemed to me he was making a joke because he didn’t understand and he said at the end of the tweet that he was confused. I knew this was a teaching moment and he had already received some angry tweets, including one from a blogger I stopped following long ago because of the constant negativity. I acknowledged that he was likely making a joke and told him that gluten in personal care products is an issue for those of us with Celiac. It really doesn’t take a lot to be nice. He tweeted back and thanked me while the other blogger tweeted us both ready to condemn. I refuse to go there when we need to be responsible. If we want society to understand our medical condition and needs we can’t beat them over the head when they get it wrong no matter how much we want to. We need to partner, be kind, and educate. We’ve already seen that media misleads when it comes to teaching the general public about gluten and the gluten-free diet. It is up to us to re-pave those roads and make sure everyone takes it.

Offended by this post? Refer back to paragraphs two and three above.