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5 Foods to Live For

Chocolate's gotta be on the list, right?

Yes, it's Meme time again and this time around I've been tagged by Susan at Fatfree Vegan Kitchen to declare my 5 Foods to Live For. Asking someone who must live gluten-free due to celiac disease to list five foods to live for is an ironic and thorny question. If she had asked me, say, ten years ago, my list would have sported Italian semolina pasta as my number one. Following a close second? A tie between a crispy crusted French baguette and a chewy, salty rosemary foccacia- dipped in number three, extra virgin olive oil. Fourth would have to involve chocolate, perhaps a dense, rich slice of Devil's food cake. Number five?

Suddenly I'm feeling a little woozy.

This has-been (once upon a time) list ought to be named, 5 Foods to Die For. In some other incarnation I'm sure it is. Celiac is that serious. Yup. It can tumble you downhill so fast you'll be cringing- more than usual- at thinly veiled envy, er, I mean, compliments (Wow, you look amazing! Bitch. What are you- a size zero?) and discussing plans with your husband on how he'll look after your sons once you're gone.

Gone? he will ask with a raised eyebrow and a glint in his eye that begs to spark the levity he knows from experience simmers just beneath your gloomy inscrutable surface. You're not going anywhere, he declares with a bear hug, wrapping himself around your alarmingly bony shoulders.

Learning at mid-life that in order to survive you must be gluten-free every single day for the rest of your life is a mixed blessing. Yes, it's a relief. You haven't woken up in the third act of some Stephen King movie titled, Wasted. There is, finally, a reason you can point to. A culprit.

And the cure? The cure is simple, the doctor will tell you. Avoid gluten. And? you ask expectantly. There will be a shrug, followed by, You'll be fine. The depth of this nutritional advice is astounding, you think to yourself in utter and complete awe. Out loud, you murmur, Oh, okay, glancing at the faint remnants of powdered sugar on his charcoal wool trouser leg.

Finding five foods to live for is easy for me. After five years of living gluten-free I have forgotten what it is like to eat and live spontaneously, to stop, on an impulse and try a new bakery or a new cafe or the new restaurant in town. I must read every label of every single food, every ingredient that goes into my mouth. I make grocery lists in my sleep. I pack food for even the shortest trips away from home, knowing there will be nothing safe I can eat during an emergency. Well, if I'm lucky- a bottled water in a vending machine.

Eating now is sober business.

It's not just something to do on a whim, or out of boredom, or even, politeness. Every single food choice has to be conscious (How Zen, you think to yourself, chewing your brown rice. Maybe Buddha was a celiac?). For those of us intolerant to gluten, each bite we take is either healing or destructive. It's as simple as that.

And this is the hard part. To regard food as a possible enemy, as something adversarial, even life threatening, like some nasty virus or invisible bacteria, can turn any food loving girl's concept of nourishment and pleasure upside down. In fact, it is the antithesis of pleasure (unless you happen to be a masochist).

No, it's not easy to be even a quasi-foodie or comfort-foodie like me, when you have to keep your guard up. Strict vigilance isn't exactly, um, sexy.

Luckily, I was born with a resiliency and fluidity that has served me well in my life; and I have adjusted to my limitations and the stringency of living gluten-free. I still have foods I adore. I get pleasure from cooking. Sharing meals with those I love is as important now (if not more so!) than it was before I learned about celiac disease.

And after some minor and major adjustments, food has become equal to pleasure once again.


Food Bloggers Five Things to Eat Before You Die


So, without further ado, my 5 Foods to Live For - aka Five Foods to Eat Before You Die Meme - are:


1. Roasted green chiles- fresh from a New Mexican roadside stand
2. Garlic- rubbed, minced, chopped, roasted
3. Extra virgin olive oil- organic and fruity, from Italy
4. Wine- both red and white, from velvety dry to clean and crisp
5. Tomatoes- in every shape and color and size, raw, cooked, and sun-dried

Wait, wait! But then there is organic dark chocolate and sweet potatoes and blueberries and peaches and vanilla bean and fresh corn tortillas. Sigh.

How lucky can a girl be?

Rather than tag five others (the bloggers I've asked have already done it - shows you how late I am getting into this) I invite readers to post their own list here (in comments) and write about it- especially those living gluten-free.



TRENDING

Gluten-Free Goddess Pizza Crust

PIZZA. YES. For years I've missed pizza. Not because there isn't gluten-free pizza available. It's out there. You can find it if you look hard enough. Take a gander in the frozen food aisle of your favorite natural market. Snoop around in the dairy case, next to the gluten-free bagels. You might even hit pay dirt at your local pizza joint (if they understand the ins and outs of cross contamination). So yeah. There are some choices out there. Problem is, most gluten-free pizza sucks. It's usually heavy on the chewy aspect.  Or dry as dirt. Like a cracker.  With zero flavor.  Yawningly meh.  Certainly nothing to brag about. I mean, you wouldn't eat it if you didn't have to. You know what I'm sayin'? It's okay in a pinch. If you're famished and tired on a Friday night.  But it's not exactly inspiring. So last week I started experimenting. I tweaked and baked. And lo and behold. A tasty new gluten-free pizza crust was born.  And this

My Favorite Gluten-Free Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

My Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Recipes For Fall... The bittersweet, textured beauty of Autumn has always gripped my heartstrings, pulling me in deeper, connecting with some invisible part of me, so much more so than Spring. Much more so than summer's flirtatious pleasures. And Winter, well. She is a dark and icy mistress. That relationship has always been complicated. So unlike my truly, madly deeply love of Fall. Bake on, my friends. Tis the season for pumpkin. xox Karina

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Icing

Did someone say... cupcakes? And better yet, pumpkin cupcakes? My favorite, hands down. Warm spicy fall flavors in a sweet morsel of cakey confection topped with a creamy icing. What's not to love? These tender gluten-free cupcake beauties have just the right balance of pumpkin and sweetness, ginger and cinnamon. They're not overly spicy. And as written, they're dairy-free (the cream cheese we used to make the icing is vegan and it worked beautifully). Note that vegan or lactose free cream cheese is typically less stiff than dairy cream cheese. If you are using dairy based cream cheese, soften it first. Have a safe and beautiful weekend! Karina xo

Gluten-Free Baking Tips + Substitutions

Need wheat-free gluten-free baking tips? Help is Here. Here's what works- and what doesn't- in quirky Gluten-Free Baking and Substitution Land. From Karina, Gluten-Free Goddess®. Baking Substitutions for Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free and More Notes on GF Flours: Gluten-free non-wheat flours generally fall into three basic weights- light starch, all-purpose medium, or heavier whole grain. A blend of medium and heavy flours with some starch mixed in to lighten, tenderize, and help bind the batter or dough works best, and tastes best (too much starch can result in a gummy texture). Light, starchy GF flours include sweet rice flour, white rice flour, and the ubiquitous gluten-free starches- tapioca starch, cornstarch, potato starch (NOT potato flour, which is whole different animal) and arrowroot starch. Medium flours are akin to 'all purpose flour'- these include sorghum flour, certified gluten-free oat flour, and superfine brown rice flour. If you cannot find sorg

Sunbutter Cookies

Here's an easy gluten-free cookie recipe made with sunflower butter- a post-modern peanut-free take on those retro peanut butter cookies your Aunt Lizzie used to make. You know, with those jars of Skippy peanut butter (or was it Jif?). Instead of using traditional peanut butter in this recipe, I used sunflower butter, which has a golden nutty flavor not unlike peanut butter, but slightly different. Kinda like peanut butter's wacky, geeky brother. You know, slightly nutty. Fun. Like a bright new bike. And they taste so good you just might want some more. Now, please. I adapted this recipe from a peanut butter cookie recipe (submitted by Erin Smith) to Beyond Rice Cakes , an easy, fun cookbook (especially for teens and students) by Vanessa Maltin, director of outreach and programming at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness .

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Scones

Sconelicious. You heard me right. Because I know what you're craving.  I'm craving it, too. Something indulgent.  But not overly indulgent.  Sweet.  But not too sweet.  Something warm and tender, and laced with the autumnal spices you've been shaking and dashing and pinching with abandon.  Something using up that leftover half cup of pumpkin sitting in the fridge. Are you with me?  Are ya feelin' me?  Then let's get sconed. Karina xox

Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

We found canned organic pumpkin on the store shelves this week. So be prepared for pumpkin recipes. I, for one, Darling, can't get enough. Pumpkin is my favorite fall ingredient. Maybe because it cozies up to gluten-free flours so well. It adds moisture and depth to g-free baked goods. It flirts with cinnamon and ginger like the sexiest, inscrutable movie star. You know what I'm talking about. It's not overt. Or blatant. It's not over the top. It is subtle. Secure. Pumpkin doesn't demand to be admired. Because it doesn't have to prove itself. It's not a bully flavor that crushes gentler flavors in its wake. It doesn't bark and claw to be Top Dog 24/7. It doesn't have a deep seated need to own the room, to dominate, to control the ingredients it shares a bowl with. Pumpkin goes with the flow. It likes vanilla. And it likes chocolate. You could say, it's bi-flavorful. Which happens to be a quality I admire. Even embody and