Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I forgot! I was going to tell you about the great Larabar experiment.

One of the things that is nice to be able to eat once in a while (like on road trips, or after yoga class) is a bar. Obviously Nutrigrain bars are out. So I've tried a number of different bars in the last several years - SoyJoy, Cliff, Luna, Kind, etc.

My favorites are Larabars. Two downsides to the Larabar: 1. they have crazy flavor names like Key Lime Pie. Well, frankly, if you have a craving for Key Lime Pie, this will do absolutely nothing for you. But it has a pleasant hint of lime. 2. They are ridiculously expensive, rolling in at $1.59 for a single bar.

I started to do some research. Often it is cheaper to buy things in bulk (like not by the single bar). But none of the stores around here sell Larabars by the pack. So I looked online. Amazon (and all the other retailers) sell cases, which are 16 bars, ranging in price from $21 - $28. Which still makes an individual bar cost between $1.24-1.60.

I decided to make my own. Part of the beauty of the Larabar is the very small list of ingredients. For example: Dates, Cashews, Lime, Raisins.


I took out my blender (ok, I started with the food processor, but let me assure you that the blender was the better tool for the job). I put in 1/4 cup of mixed nuts that I got at Target last week for my road trip, and added 1/2 cup of raisins. Then I blended. To get a more Larabar look, I then added more raisins, probably winding up with 3/4 cup of raisins. Then I patted the mixture into bar shapes.

Next time I will buy dates and try this again. I think dates probably have a more subtle flavor than raisins.

From eating the Larabars I didn't think they were baked, but mine are really sticky and mushy. Even after sitting out to dry overnight. So I think I may try them in a low oven for a little while next time.

Total cost: Nothing. I made this from stuff I had in my pantry. How satisfying.

Tortilla Wrap

Last week was a really good food week. I made a big pot of my good soup, which carried me through most of the week, I ate a lot of salad, and for a new recipe, I tried a sandwich wrap.

Tortilla Sandwich Wrap
Gluten-free flour tortilla (they were on sale in the freezer section of my natural food store)
cilantro pesto
lettuce and other greens (mustard greens - try them raw)
um... maybe some other vegetables that I had on hand.
salt, pepper, and olive oil

I laid the tortilla on a cookie sheet, and heated the oven to 350. Then I piled on the toppings pizza-style. After about 15 minutes (when the edges of the tortilla were crunchy), I pulled it out, cut it in half and flipped the halves closed.

In addition to the good food I made, I went to a restaurant with friends. I was very impressed because they had labels on the items that were gluten-free, and when I told them I am gluten-free, they immediately made all the proper arrangements to avoid cross-contamination. It was nice to be taken care of.

Then I got bummed because I went out of town this weekend (road trip!) and couldn't find anywhere to eat. When I asked if menu items contained flour, the servers looked at me like I had 3 heads. When I peremptorily explained that I have food allergies to gluten, which is wheat and flour, they ignored my requests, and brought me fried food smothered in gravy.

And I think the biggest problem is I don't know how to remedy that. Maybe I should research restaurants in the areas I will be traveling to see their menus. Maybe I should buy a 5 day cooler like my mom has and just pack all my own food. The problem with that was even with a way to keep the food cool, I would have to plan all things that require no cooking at all. Unless I also want to look up local parks to see if they have a barbeque pit and carry my own charcoal. Suggestions?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kitchen Experiments

I opened up this screen to tell you about my kitchen experiments this week. I actually have not been cooking a lot -- seriously, that curried rice and stir fry made a TON of food. I still have a whole gladware full of rice. I also had a lot of veggies that needed to be eaten, so I've been focused.

I am sitting here looking at the screen, though, and hearing a line from Kiera Knightly's version of Pride and Prejudice in my head: "Don't you judge me, Lizzy. Don't you dare judge me."

And the reason for that is my kitchen experiments have been truly bizarre, and .... So, don't judge me, it was really just an experiment.

Experiment #1: Making saurkraut
I know, why would you want to? But I saw this video a while ago, and thought "Wow, that's weird." And then, after making the curried stir fry, I still had more than a half a head of cabbage leftover. Now, the total cost of the cabbage was $0.33. So realistically, I could have just thrown it away and considered the money well spent. But no, I'm opposed to throwing food away.

So I decided to make saurkraut. Carraway seeds are what is used in rye bread, so as soon as I opened those up I was like, hmm, smells like pumpernickel, no, not pumpernickel, rye!

And actually (now that I have waited the requisite 3 days for said experiment to ferment on my kitchen counter), it is better than any saurkraut I have ever tasted in my life. So maybe that was worth the 1/2 of $0.33.

Experiment #2: Making Muesli
In Italy, I used to eat muesli for breakfast. It was sold at the grocery stores in a bag like cereal or granola. I have been thinking about something else that I could do for breakfast, because the yogurt doesn't last through my morning classes. Ok, I know, I eat all the time, but yogurt isn't lasting through my first morning class.

Side story: One of my students was saying she has poison ivy, so the doctors put her on a high powered steroid. And I said, "Oh, my gosh! I am so sorry! I was on that ALL summer. Are you sleeping at all? Because I didn't sleep for a month." Another student said, "Did it make you hungry?" And I kind of thought, and then, "Hm... I don't know. I eat all the time anyway." And she said, "Well, I know you like to eat. But it can make you really hungry." And I thought, "Oh boy..."

I could probably find a store that sells muesli, but not gluten-free. So I saw this recipe for muesli. I spent way too much on the gluten-free oatmeal (gotta love Bob's Red Mill though. Thoughtful company), so I omitted the buckwheat (which despite the name is gluten free).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pesto, Peppers, and Stir Fry

Good food weekend. I kept thinking I'd treat myself to dinner out, but then I kept realizing that I have a ton of food in the fridge. So I enjoyed it.

Meal #1: Cilantro Pesto over Rice
Bunch of cilantro
Lime juice
1 green onion
Olive oil
A dash of salt
A dash of ground ginger

I pulsed everything in the food processor and then put it over rice.

Meal #2: Stuffed green peppers
I got 4 green peppers on the cheap, so I decided to stuff them.

1 cup of rice (or so)
1/2 can of black beans
2 chipotle peppers (canned)
2-3 tbs adobo sauce (the sauce the chipotles are canned in)
1 diced tomato
3 tbs chopped onions
lime juice

I realized afterward that I could have added corn as well.

I just mixed everything together, until it looked like the blend I wanted, then cored the green peppers, stuffed them, covered with a sprinkle of cheese and baked at 350 for 20 minutes.

Since I had so many peppers, I froze some of them (before I cooked them).

Meal #3: Curried Apple Chicken Stir Fry
I'm editing to add a note about this stir fry. First, it has curry in it, so I expected it to be spicy, and was kind of disappointed that it is sweet. So next time I will add more curry paste, and I'm adjusting the leftovers with salt, pepper, cumin, and probably chili powder too.

Also, next time I will make either the stir fry, or the rice, not both. I don't need a fancy dressed-up rice when I am covering it with stir fry.

Everything has tasted really good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Enchiladas and Muffins

Planned meal number one for the week was enchiladas. I wanted something not chicken - yeah, I don't know why. So I looked around at some of the food blogs, and found this recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas.

The only change I made was using cornstarch instead of arrowroot starch (because it's what I had). Oh, and I'll make an ingredient note, I was able to find 8 oz cans of chopped, roasted green chiles at Walmart for $0.96, be sure you look around. The first cans I found were 4 oz and $2+.

Also, the recipe says this will make 8, I was able to make 10 and fit them in my 9x13 pan. Then I had a rectangular gladware container full of the sweet potatoes and beans. This means I can make more. Yay.

I thought these were delicious, and they got super rave reviews from my friend as well. Even to the point of eating 3. (Corn tortillas are smaller, so I'm not in any way implying anything).

And of course, I made muffins again. This time, I made Apple Cinnamon Muffins. I'm not going to bother with posting the recipe, because frankly, they didn't turn out that good. I think that the problem is I made them without sugar, and cinnamon just doesn't taste right without sugar. I think we always eat them paired together - sprinkled on Snickerdoodles or Banana cookies, for example. So it just tastes weird and flat to have cinnamon without sugar.

Any suggestions to fix that problem?