Jenny Stockton finds healthier lifestyle with gluten, dairy free dishes

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Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

Halawaka Creek flows by the historic Bean’s Mill, providing a soothing sound at the entrance to the home of Jenny and Andrew Stockton outside Opelika. The Stocktons purchased the property in 2013 from Faye Ross, who built the house with her husband John. As an engineer, John restored the mill, the only remaining gristmill of those once dotting the creek in the early years of east Alabama.

The mill and creek provide an interesting playground for the Stocktons’ two oldest children. Jacob, 10, gets excited finding a crawfish in the creek while Mitchell, 11, is enjoying building a tree house with his father in the woods.

Jenny home schools the boys while being home with their other two children, Andrew Turner, 2, and Evy, who will be 1 later this month. “Even the 2 year old is enjoying the property,” says Jenny, “as he gets excited about walking up the hill to see his chickens.”

Jenny enjoys cooking for her family and has been preparing gluten and dairy free meals for six years. She 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- in-law suggested she visit a nutritionist she had seen in Atlanta. Tests revealed that Jenny had a sensitively to gluten and 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 alternates, but now it is much easier to find gluten and diary free products. Jenny researched what to eat and collected recipes, many of which she adapted and compiled into a cookbook.

“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 and dairy 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 the 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.

Slow Cooker Chicken Salad is a favorite. The salad is hearty and doesn’t need bread. When she buys breads, she looks in the freezer section for gluten free.

She mixes a Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing for salads that is also a dip.

“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 Andrew at Auburn the first day of class. Andrew’s family is from the Birmingham area. They dated through college and married a month after graduation.

Andrew went to work at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. After 12 years, Andrew accepted a position at GKN Aerospace in Tallassee. Andrew switched from engineering and is currently owner of Omni Fleet Services.

The family moved into the Ross house in November 2013.  They updated the kitchen and other areas of the house.

“The property had everything Andrew had been looking for with open space, woods and water running through it and a large enough house for our family,” says Jenny. “Having the gristmill was a bonus that an engineer would love.”

They run the mill once in the spring and fall. They invite family and friends to come watch and help run it. Mitchell and Jacob enjoy helping their father at the mill.

While Bean’s Mill is visible from the road, it is on the Stocktons’ property where their children play. It is not open to the public.

Jenny and Andrew are enjoying their home and being the caretakers of the mill. “It has been interesting to see how God has unfolded things one wrapper at a time,” says Jenny.  “Andrew was feeling restless being an engineer, and a year ago saw a need and opened his own business. It fills me with wonder of what the future holds.”

Following are Jenny’s recipes that anyone can enjoy whether eating gluten and dairy free or not. If you are interested in purchasing her cookbook or have questions for Jenny email recipes@cipperly.com, and I will pass on the requests.

Recipes:

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 of 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 – 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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