Gluten-free dishes provide healthier lifestyle for many

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Special to the Opelika Observer

By Ann Cipperly

For millions of Americans, gluten causes health problems, including those with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten ataxia and wheat allergy. In addition, a gluten-free diet may improve symptoms in diseases, such as IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, among others.

Jenny Stockton of Opelika has been preparing gluten free dishes for eight years and finds it is a healthier lifestyle. After much research she has found substitutes for almost every item in recipes calling for wheat. Jenny created many of her own recipes.

Jenny had been experiencing stomach problems that doctors thought could be caused by IBS. They told her to avoid foods that made her sick.

Since she wasn’t feeling well mothering her small children, Jenny’s mother- n-law suggested she visit a nutritionist she had seen in Atlanta. Tests revealed that Jenny had sensitivity to gluten, as well as dairy.

Jenny’s nutritionist suggested she stop eating gluten for six weeks to see how she felt, and then to start slowly adding the gluten free alternatives one at a time, such as the breads and pastas.

Once she eliminated gluten and dairy from her diet, she began feeling better and lost weight.

At the time there were not many alternatives, but now it is much easier to find gluten free products. Jenny researched what to eat and collected recipes, many of which she adapted.

“Anything with wheat, such as breads, pasta, tortillas, and even packaged luncheon meats contain gluten,” says Jenny. “A lot of foods have modified food starch added. Other items with gluten include artificial crab meat, canned soups and soy sauce.”

She has found substitutes for almost every item in recipes. Instead of soy sauce she uses Tamari. For making mac and cheese, she uses Daiya cheese that is dairy free and Jovial gluten free noodles.

Jenny prepares all the meals gluten free for the entire family. She makes homemade granola with gluten free oats and serves it with fresh fruit and almond milk.

Gluten free oats are also used in Power Balls she prepares to take to her children’s swim meets and hiking. No Flour Trail Mix Cookies is also one of the children’s favorite snacks with oats.

For Protein Biscuits she uses almond flour and doesn’t have a problem finding it in local markets.

“For women who want to go dairy free,” says Jenny, “they need to be very cautious switching to everything soy because soy can mess up a woman’s hormones. They can switch to almond or coconut milk.”

Jenny didn’t learn how to cook until she attended Auburn University. She grew up in Jacksonville where both her parents were professors at Jacksonville State University. Her grandmother lived with them and cooked meals. Jenny would sit on a stool in the kitchen and help her grandmother snap beans and clean silk off corn.

After Jenny graduated from high school and attended Auburn, she found learning to cook was a shock. Her father had cooked large family meals. She would call him for questions about cooking.

Jenny met her husband Andrew at Auburn the first day of class. They dated through college and married a month after graduation. Andrew is currently owner of Omni Fleet Services.

Following are Jenny’s recipes that anyone can enjoy whether eating gluten free or not. Jenny posts gluten free and dairy free recipes on Facebook At Beans Mill.

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Tomato Salad Alternative
Sauté sliced or diced red onion in olive oil until soft. Cool slightly. Add tomato that has been cored, seeded and diced. Add a little balsamic vinaigrette and a touch of sugar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Honey Garlic Shrimp
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup liquid soy aminos (or coconut aminos)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 lb. medium uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp. olive oil
Whisk together honey, aminos and garlic. Pour half over shrimp in a sealed container or zip top bag and refrigerate to marinate, anywhere between 15 minutes to 8 hours. Cover and refrigerate the remainder of the marinade to add to the skillet as you cook later. (While the shrimp marinates, I usually steam some broccoli and make brown rice or quinoa.)
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Place shrimp in skillet, discarding the used marinade. Cook shrimp on one side until pink, then flip shrimp over.
Pour in marinade you set aside earlier, and cook until all the shrimp is cooked through, about 1 minute. Serve with cooked rice and steamed broccoli.

Oven Fajitas
1 lb. chicken, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced
½ red bell pepper, cut into strips
½ green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 can diced tomatoes or 2 fresh roma tomatoes, chopped
Seasoning:
2 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1½ tsp. southwest chipotle seasoning (I like McCormick or Tone’s)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in greased casserole dish.
In a small bowl, combine seasoning ingredients and drizzle over chicken strips, tossing to coat. Add vegetables and toss to combine and coat in seasonings.
Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes. Serve with gluten free tortillas (I like Mission) or over rice with the toppings of your choice.

One Pan Healthy Sausage and Vegetables
2 cups chopped red potato
½ lb. green beans
1 large head of broccoli
1½ cups chopped bell peppers
9 oz. sausage (we like Conecuh or Heritage Farm)
6 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (I like Tone’s Six Pepper spice blend.)
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
Chop all the vegetables and cut the sausage in thick slices. Place them all in a large mixing bowl. Pour olive oil and all the spices on top; toss to coat evenly.
Spread mixture onto prepared sheet pan. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. If desired, sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese over top, as soon as it comes out of the oven. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
3 cups rice cereal
1½ cups chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil
Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Place chocolate chips, peanut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil in a large microwave safe mixing bowl. Microwave for 1 minute and stir. Microwave more in 15 second increments, if needed. Once everything is melted and combined, add in the rice cereal. Stir to combine.
Pour and spread into the prepared dish. Refrigerate until solid. Using foil, pull bars out of dish and cut into squares.

Brazilian Cheese Rolls
These are the perfect side dish when you would normally serve garlic bread, rolls or biscuits.
2 cups tapioca starch
1 tsp. salt
½ cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
6 oz. Parmesan cheese
Place tapioca starch and salt in a large bowl.
Bring oil, water and milk to boil over medium heat until a white foam appears. Pour milk mixture over tapioca starch and stir until well blended. Allow dough to rest for 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 375 degrees.
Mix eggs and cheese into the dough. Shape into 1½ inch balls and place on baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until browned.

Gluten-Free Granola
Eat as a snack; as cereal in the milk of your choice (I love mine in regular almond milk!); as a topping for yogurt (It’s really good over vanilla coconut milk yogurt!).
4 cups gluten-free rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free stone cut oats.)
2 cups nuts of choice (I usually use chopped walnuts and pecans.)
1/3 cup honey
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. gluten-free flour blend (I like Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-free Baking Mix or King Arthur Gluten-free All Purpose Flour.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
2 cups dried fruits of your choice (I usually use raisins, cranberries, cherries and blueberries.)
Mix nuts and oats. Spread in a shallow pan and bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, gluten-free flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add cooked oat mixture to dry ingredients and toss to cover.
In a small bowl, combine honey, oil and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and mix well. Spread back out in a shallow pan and return to oven for 10 more minutes, stirring at least twice. Transfer to a clean, large bowl to cool and add dried fruits. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Protein Biscuits
These are denser than regular flour biscuits, but they are packed with protein and great served with jelly and sausage. They will keep you full all morning!
2 ½ cups almond flour
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup palm oil shortening
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine first three ingredients. In a separate larger bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ones, mixing and blending until a nice dough ball forms.
On a piece of wax paper (dusted with almond flour), flatten out dough to 1 ½ inches thickness. Cut out biscuits using a biscuit cutter or 3-inch wide mouthed cup. Set rounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon mat. Bake 15 minutes, until browned on the bottom edges.

Power Balls
Enjoy whenever you need a little pick-me-up!
1 cup gluten-free oats (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
½ cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
½ cup ground flaxseed or chia seeds
½ cup Enjoy Life brand mini-chocolate chips (they’re dairy free)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix everything in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll into little bite-sized balls and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Dairy-free Ranch Dip and Dressing
½ cup Grapeseed Oil Veganaise
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. minced garlic
¼ tsp. finely chopped green onion
1 pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a small jar or serving bowl. Use it to top a salad or dip fresh veggies.

Slow Cooker Chicken Salad
1 whole roasting chicken, rinsed and prepared
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. pepper
A few stalks celery, chopped
A little bit of red onion, chopped
A handful of red grapes, rinsed and halved
A handful of chopped walnuts or pecans
Mayonnaise (or for a healthier version use Grapeseed Oil Veganaise)
Place rinsed chicken in a slow cooker breast side up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings. Cook on low 4-6 hours. Let cool. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, pull meat from bones and place in a large bowl. Either shred or chop chicken into bite sized pieces. (Discard bones, but save the stock!)
Add celery, red onion, red grapes and nuts to the bowl with chopped chicken in it, adjusting amounts to your liking. If desired, sprinkle some more of the seasonings used earlier into the salad. Add mayonnaise or Veganaise until you get the right “wetness” you want. Chill for 1 hour, then enjoy!

Chicken Oregano
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. minced garlic
2 tomatoes, peeled and quartered (or canned, drained)
½ cup dry white wine
8 oz. fresh or canned mushrooms
¼ cup parsley, optional
Chicken breasts (either whole or chopped into bite-sized pieces – whichever you have time for because bite-sized cooks faster)
Brown chicken in hot oil in medium sized skillet. Add onion and sauté. Add seasonings, garlic, wine and mushrooms. Cover and cook until tender (about 30 minutes for whole breasts). Add tomatoes and cook 5 more minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

Apricot Chicken
4-6 thinly sliced chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. liquid soy aminos
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup apricot preserves (My favorite brand is Bonne Maman.)
½ tsp. pepper
¾ tsp. sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If desired, brown chicken in skillet about 4 minutes, but I have found this step unnecessary if you’re pressed for time (which I usually am). Place chicken in a baking dish. Mix together all other ingredients. Pour over chicken and bake 20-25 minutes. Serve with rice.

No Flour Trail Mix Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup coconut flakes
½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand.)
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup raisins
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup maple syrup
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Drop by generous tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cookies should be set but still soft. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet to cool.

Gluten-free Dairy-free Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 cup sugar
½ cup gluten-free all purpose flour mix
2 eggs
8 Tbsp. dairy-free butter substitute, melted (I like EarthBalance and SmartBalance “butters”.)
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life morsels.)
¾ cup chopped pecans
½ cup shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients. Pour into a well greased pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

DIY Taco Seasoning
Whenever a recipe calls for a “packet” of taco seasoning, use 3 Tbsp. of this mix instead.
¼ cup chili powder
1 ½ tsp. onion powder
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
1 ½ tsp. cumin
1 ½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small glass jar and shake well. Keep sealed in spice cabinet up to 6 months.

Healthiest Chicken Soup
10 cups chicken broth
1½ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into half moons
1 bunch kale, leaves removed from stems and coarsely torn
1 lb. cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. chicken, boneless/skinless, thinly sliced crosswise
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
In a fairly large pot, bring broth to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add kale pieces and mushrooms and simmer 5 more minutes. Add chicken and pepper and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Add salt (and more pepper) to each bowl according to taste preferences.

Mexican Beef Roast
Great as meat in a burrito (in a gluten-free tortilla) or tacos or as a topping for some nachos. It’s always delicious served with salsa and guacamole.
1 beef arm roast
1-2 Tbsp. chipotle chili powder (depending on desired spiciness)
1 tsp. salt
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
Place sliced onion and celery in the bottom of a large slow cooker. Set roast on top and sprinkle with chipotle chili powder and salt. Add ¼ cup water around roast, if desired. Cook on high 5-6 hours, or until roast will shred with no difficulty. Shred meat before serving.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1 lb. ground chicken
1 head lettuce (butter, iceberg, or romaine)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ginger
2 green onions
1 onion, chopped
8 oz. can water chestnuts
¼ cup Hoisin sauce (make sure it’s gluten-free)
2 Tbsp. soy aminos
1 Tbsp. Sriracha
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown and crumble chicken in a large skillet. Add garlic, ginger and onions. Sauté 10 minutes. Add finely chopped water chestnuts. In a small bowl, combine Hoisin sauce, soy aminos, and Sriracha. Pour over chicken mixture and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste and serve in lettuce leaf “bowls”.

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