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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

Cape Cod Apple Cake with Cranberries (Gluten-Free)

Sweet and Tart.   No philosophy today. Dust off your cake pan, Babycakes. This is a moist and tender apple cake laced with a hint of cinnamon and studded with fresh tart berries. After seven   twelve   - er, 19!- years of baking various gluten-free incarnations of my tried and true family apple cake recipe, this could be our favorite. Maybe it's the sweet-tart combo. The subtlety of flavors. In a food culture obsessed with kicking up recipes with more for the sake of more (white chocolate peanut butter bacon swirled maple donut ice cream drizzled in dulche de leche coconut marshmallow syrup and dusted with sugared Meyer lemon zest and shaved cacao, anyone?) the clean and classic flavor contrast of apples and cranberries is somehow new again. Even, refreshing.  I don't need dessert to taste like candy. I like my cake to taste like cake.  You can bake this recipe with eggs and dairy, or vegan alternatives. See options below.

Gluten-Free Goddess Lemon Yogurt Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake So  I've been jonesing for a cake laced with citrus- not too sweet and not too light. A cake with character and heft.  Something akin to a lovely simple cake I remember liking as a child, a store bought bakery cake called Louisiana Ring made by Freihofer's. The cake featured a hint of orange. The day I decided to bake, I did not have oranges in the pantry- but I did have some lemons, organic Greek yogurt, and plenty of blanched almond flour.  And this simple home baked lemon cake was born.  In time for Spring. Love, Karina xo

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

YES PLEASE.  This award winning budget-friendly Santa Fe inspired vegetarian enchilada recipe is one of those happy accidents that springs from a burst of creative imagination. Or rumbling hunger. In that what-have-we-got-in-the-pantry sort of panic. I was craving the soft and spicy comfort of enchiladas one windy spring night back in 2003, and I had none of the usual suspects on hand (no chicken, or beef, no pinto beans).  But! I had one lovely mother of a sweet potato.  A can of organic black beans.  Some roasted green chiles.  One lonely lime.  And your intrepid Mamacita-Goddess at large thought, Hmmm. Why not? Deliciousness ensued. These wrapped little gems are soft and creamy and a little bit spicy- Just like a certain cook , my point-scoring husband wisecracks. It's the yams, I tell him. Er, sweet potato. I can never tell the difference. Can you? In the end, it doesn't matter.  What matters is how it tastes. And darling, these are so mucho scrumptiou

Gluten-Free Goddess Pasta Frittata with Kale

An Italian Classic - Updated. Today I offer you a simple recipe spun from the magic of leftover gluten-free spaghetti and eggs- a creamy, light frittata. Perfect for the weekend. Or when you're simply too tired to cook. Or you have nothing in the fridge but a carton of eggs, half a bag of kale salad and last night's leftover cooked spaghetti. It's one of those intuitive, spontaneous recipes I've pulled out of thin air, so many times. For dairy-free folks, the "cheese" pictured in this version was a vegan "mozzarella" (my current favorite is Vegan Gourmet). But if you prefer using dairy- select one or two of your favorite Italian organic cheeses. I've also made this yummy dish using goat cheese (and roasted red peppers!), and another time I tried a blend of fresh mozzarella and shaved Parmesan. It's a very versatile recipe. Celebrate Spring. Have fun with it! XOX Karina

Gluten-Free Goddess Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ah, flourless chocolate cake. The perfect rich dessert. Forgive the hyperbole. But I just can't help it. This is rich, sexy chocolate deliciousness on a plate. And such an easy recipe, especially if you use a food processor to do the work. Serve this to non-gluten-free folks with no apologies. None. Zip. Nada. And for gluten-free folks? Hand out seconds (we deserve it, don't we?). And the best part is- the recipe is inherently gluten-free and wheat-free. Always has been. No substitutions. No funny stuff. This is the same flourless chocolate cake I've been making for decades. It never contained flour. The only thing I've tweaked post-celiac diagnosis is adding more coffee and vanilla. Just because. And PS: See below why I make this recipe in a food processor- thanks to Bobby Flay. Karina xo

Gluten-Free Goddess Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

A classic cookie made gluten-free. I suppose you could argue that one oatmeal cookie recipe is enough. I mean, how many oatmeal cookie recipes does a person need? To this I answer, at least two. Why? Well, first you have one with raisins (my oatmeal raisin cookies here ). Raisins give oatmeal cookies that old school chewy sneaky nutrition boost. They're old fashioned and comfy cozy. Kinda like spending one of those Saturday afternoons at your Aunt Martha's house, chillin'. Watching Mr. Rogers and laying on the floor with a pile of coloring books. Coloring outside the lines with a beat up box of Crayolas. Wishing the silver crayon was more than a lonely nub. And right at that nub lamenting moment she'd bring you a plate of cookies. Truth is, I never had an Aunt Martha. But I did have a chain smoking platinum blond babysitter who liked martinis a little too much. Or maybe it was gin and tonic. There was ice in the glass. If I was lucky enough to scro

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