Archive for June, 2013

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

The following guest post is from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) volunteer Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free.

There is a local farmers’ market near me in New Jersey that carries these little zucchinis that are a different shape from those you typically see: these are round! As soon as you see ’em, you think “I’m gonna stuff them!”  They are probably picked early, though that’s only my guess, since I’m not familiar with the manner in which they‘re grown or harvested. I’ve only grown the usual zucchini which are long and thin, of course.

Now, if this recipe appeals to you and you aren’t able to find these round ones, you can certainly stuff the long shaped zucchini. Slice them horizontally and using a spoon, scoop or scrape out some filling creating an almost boat-like appearance. Save the filling to use in the stuffing as I’ll describe later.

Don’t be turned off by the steps involved. It really is worth the effort!

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Stuffeed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • A few fresh zucchini ( I used 3 for this recipe.)
  • Save the filling that’s removed, as directed, and dice it.
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ shallot- diced
  • 1 cup Italian-Flavored Bread Crumbs (Gillian’s Gluten-free are my favorite)
  • ¼ cup Pecorino Romano grated cheese (or Parmesan grated is fine too)
  • Dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 small button mushrooms or baby crimini‘s – diced
  • 1/5 of a red bell pepper – diced.
  • Dash of garlic powder, not garlic salt

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 can (28 0z.) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 fresh basil leaves – slivered or chopped
  • 1 garlic clove- minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I use a dash of each)

Directions:

  1. First, wash the zucchini and then cut off the top, about ¼ from the top, trying to create a little “hat.” Using a sharp paring knife, remove some of the center to make space for stuffing. We’ve included lots of photos for this recipe to guide you. You need to leave enough zucchini inside though to provide some body to stand up.

    Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato: Raw Zucchini

    The raw zucchini.

  2. Save the filling you cut out. We’ll incorporate it into the other items for the filling.
  3. Place the hollow zucchini in a saucepan of water, but don’t submerge them. Water should only meet the zucchini half way up.

    Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato: Zucchini in Water

    Be sure to not submerge to zucchini in water!

  4. Cover pot. Simmer them for approximately 15 minutes, but keep carefully pressing the side to see if they are softening. Do not allow them to become mushy. We need some “body” in order to handle and stuff without falling apart.
  5. Using a ladle, gently remove from water and allow to cool on paper towel.
  6. Now make the filling:
  7. In a skillet, add the oil and when heated saute the shallot and then garlic for a short time. Don’t allow either to brown. While they are doing this, mix the bread crumbs and grated cheese in a small bowl. Add the Salt & Pepper to this and combine. Set aside.
  8. Into the skillet with that onion & garlic, now add the chopped zucchini you removed from the centers, and the small amount of red pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the diced mushrooms and do the same.
  9. Lastly, stir in the bread crumb mixture and incorporate into the vegetables.
  10. Remove to a bowl or dish to cool slightly-just long enough to be able to handle.
  11. Take the cooled, empty zucchini and “stuff!” Use a teaspoon or whatever is easy for you to manage and fill the zucchini as in the photo.(I know this seems like a lot, but it’s really an easy dish and worth it! )

    Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato: Stuffed Zucchini Uncooked

    Looking good, right?

  12. In a skillet that has a cover, place 2 tbsp Oil, and when warmed, saute the garlic and onion. Don’t brown, juts allow to become translucent.
  13. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and basil, a dash of salt and pepper. Stir well.
  14. Lastly, place the filled zucchini in the sauce, and over a low heat, cover pan and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, stirring the sauce all around them frequently, making sure they don’t stick to bottom of pan. The zucchini stay in an upright position during the cooking. Never tilt over. I put the “hats” we cut off at the beginning, in the sauce as well to soften them. The hats aren’t essential to the recipe, they just look cute! LOL!

Serve as a side dish with any entree, whether the meal is Italian or not…doesn’t matter. We love this with some crusty bread for sauce-dipping!

Hope you’ll try this! And let me know if you do.

– Annette Marie

Annette Marie

Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free

Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free

Annette is a native New Yorker, now living in New Jersey.  Since she was diagnosed with celiac disease well after the age of 50, Annette has made it her mission to raise awareness in the hopes that others won’t have to live for years with unexplained symptoms as she did.  Some of Annette’s recipes are inspired by traditional Italian recipes, but she adds other original gluten-free recipes to the mix.  Her “semi-homemade” and from “scratch” recipes are meant for busy families eating gluten-free.  For more of Annette’s gluten-free recipes, visit her blog at www.BestLifeGlutenFree.com.

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June 19, 2013 at 10:00 am 1 comment

Trials and Tribulations – My First Experience with Gluten-Free Baking

New to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team, Healthcare Relations Intern Josh Goldberg has developed an interest in all things celiac disease and gluten-free related.  Eager to get more involved, Josh took to the kitchen to put his gluten-free baking skills to the test.  Read on for Josh’s account of his first try at gluten-free baking.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.

I glared at my monitor incredulously.  It sounded like the sort of thing you would make on a dare.  I had wandered into this recipe while searching for something gluten-free to bake.  If I had a lick of common sense, I would have stuck with something a little more traditional for a dessert.  My eyes darted down to the ingredients and baking steps.  The recipe only required three ingredients: a large avocado, coconut flour, and some salt.  All I had to do was mash up the avocado, mix it into the coconut flour and salt, toss the concoction onto a tray, and leave in the oven for a bit.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.  Three ingredients.  Seven steps.  What could go wrong?

I scrambled over to Whole Foods and picked up the necessary ingredients.  Once I got home, I pre-heated the oven and got to work.  The avocado peel came off easily and I attacked the fruit with all the precision of Norman Bates.  Some of the resulting mess ended up on the floor where the cat sniffed it curiously and then retreated.  I tried not to think of it as a bad omen and dumped the appropriate amount of coconut flour into the avocado’s bowl.

After the salt was added, I grabbed a big spoon and started to mix.  It felt like I was pushing sand.  The flour and avocado were adhering to one another, but the product was crumbling and barely clumping.  It took a good long while to bunch the mixture into what can only be described as The World’s Saddest Cookies.  Despite their less-than-perfect appearance, the bright green of the “cookies” brought me some level of optimism.  I pursed my lips and guided the cookie tray into the oven.  Surely, the baking process would instill some flavor into these little green lumps.

All signs should have pointed to me lowering my expectations for the cookies.  I caught a sniff of the coconut flour and began thinking about sharing these cookies with my family.  I would now have a signature dessert that I could bring to my in-laws when we ate at their residence.  Their fears of the bizarre-looking cookies would dissipate with a single taste.  I would be the new gluten-free baker on the block.  The thought was as savory as I hoped the cookies would be.

Beep!

I vaulted off the couch and grabbed the tray with a gloved hand.  The little green lumps that I had sent in were now…little green lumps with a tan.  I could still smell a hint of coconut, so my hope for a good, savory flavor remained intact.  After giving the lumps time to cool, I brought my fiancé into the kitchen to take a taste test with me.  She was surprised by the appearance of the cookies, but tentatively took a bite with me.

I didn’t even have time to ask her if she liked them before she placed what was left of the lump in my hand and ran to get a drink of water.

Dejected, I got in touch with my stepmother-in-law.  My fiance’s father and sister were diagnosed with celiac disease over ten years ago and it largely fell to her to figure out how to cook and bake without gluten.  Surely, she would give me some guidance as to what went wrong with the recipe or my cooking method.  My stepmother-in-law listened to my story and shrugged.  She had recently spent a Saturday making cookies of her own.  She made the cookies multiple times with different ratios of ingredients to get the right level of consistency and texture, but the end result was the same.  This woman, who had been cooking and baking gluten-free for so long, still struggled to perfect a recipe.

I was stunned.  Having eaten with my in-laws on numerous occasions, I knew her cooking was top-notch.  My stepmother-in-law noted my surprise and told me that cooking and baking is a constant learning process.  You rarely ever get the recipe right the first time.  The issue is compounded in gluten-free baking.  It is important to not be discouraged when a recipe does not go as planned.  Instead, take stock of what you have learned and incorporate it into your next try.  The reward of having a go-to baking recipe is worth the effort.

My discussion with my stepmother-in-law soothed my bruised ego.  She had spent an entire day on a cookie recipe that went nowhere and I was upset over one simple recipe gone awry.  I went back over the avocado coconut cookie recipe and checked some similar, more complex recipes.  It turns out that I need to add some additional binding agents to the recipe to bulk up those green lumps.  It would also help to add chocolate to enhance the flavor.  My lesson has been learned.  I don’t feel embarrassed about the experience anymore.  I feel empowered.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.  I’ll give you another try…someday.

–          Josh
Healthcare Relations Intern, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

June 13, 2013 at 8:55 am Leave a comment

Be Well Philly Bootcamp – The Gluten-Free Way!

It’s summertime and lots of women are thinking about how we look and, after that, how we feel. On Saturday, June 8th, Philadelphia magazine hosted their annual Be Well Philly Boot Camp at the well-equipped Recreation Center on the campus of Drexel University. The goal was to motivate, educate, and empower women to get healthy and fit.

And, did they ever!

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) was there to participate and cheer everyone on! After all, our mission is based on empowerment and education.

The 500 gals attending this amazing event checked out all manner of health and fitness items. Penn and Drexel medical teams were there with health tips and on-site screening. There were cooking demos hourly and delicious food sampling, plus group fitness classes — Zumba, yoga, and spinning. If learning how to climb a rock wall is on your bucket list, this was the place to be. Some attendees even grabbed a massage!

And, there was a chance to talk to the experts. All during the day, there were panel discussions on a wide variety of subjects from advice about the right running shoes to how to have more energy. Representing NFCA, I joined a panel called “Gluten Free Guide”. Our moderator, Cass Bailey from Slice Communications, has celiac disease and has embraced the gluten-free diet. Joining me on the panel were Michael Savett, publisher of the Gluten Free Philly blog, and Jennifer Fugo of the Gluten Free School.

It was fascinating! The audience had great questions and was eager to learn the “ins and outs” of the gluten-free diet. Plus, there was real interest in what celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders are all about. We talked about the difference between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), along with getting tested and what to look for in restaurants as you begin the gluten-free journey. Getting family members tested was an important point for a number of audience members having relatives with celiac disease.

The big question was… “Is it a diet fad, a real medical issue or just a good thing to practice?” This panel did a great job of making sure everyone left with an understanding that there is such a thing as a medically necessary gluten-free diet. For real!

The overall point of the story is that there is no time like right now to start paying more attention to your health. No kidding, it actually does boil down to exercise and diet — perhaps a gluten-free diet!

– Nancy

June 12, 2013 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Semi-Homemade Gluten-Free Blueberry Crumb Pie

The following recipe is from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Volunteer Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free.

Summertime means pie!   New Jersey, my home state, is the nation’s largest grower of blueberries. And you know what that means? We get ‘em fresh and in abundance!

There’s a Blueberry Pie recipe on my blog already, but this one is slightly different; it’s semi-homemade using prepared Gluten-Free Pie Crust from Whole Foods Brands, and of course, it’s sporting a crumb topping.

I love this one more than my first blueberry pie recipe…the crumbs get toasty and have a nice “bite” to each mouthful! And it doesn’t hurt that it was less work. HaHa!

Semi-Homemade Gluten-Free Blueberry Crumb Pie

Semi-Homemade Gluten-Free Blueberry Crumb Pie: Finished Pie

Semi-Homemade Gluten-Free Blueberry Crumb Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made gluten-free pie crust (This is the bottom crust.)

For Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour (Such as Bob’s Red Mill, or Namaste All-Purpose, or your preference)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. cold salted Butter or Vegetable shortening
  • ½ tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. cold water ( More if dough feels very dry)
  • ½  tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup light brown sugar

Pie Filling:

  • 3 pints fresh blueberries, picked clean of stems, washed and dried
  • 1 tart apple, cored, peeled and grated. After grating, squeeze apple shaving in a towel to remove moisture or pie will be very wet
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest and 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt (not sea salt)
  • 1 tsp. butter (To dot on top of berries before baking.)

Directions:

  1. The first thing you need to do is prepare the dough for the Crumb Topping.  Combine the dry ingredients for the topping first, and then add the butter, “cutting” it in with a pastry blender tool or 2 forks.
  2. Now add the wet ingredients and combine, using the pastry blender or forks, and eventually with your clean hands, until you have a ball of dough.
  3. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 45 min. to 1 hour.

Now prepare the filling:

  1. In a saucepan, place half of the blueberries over low heat. As they begin to warm and then simmer, mash with a potato masher or anything that will crush them. Keep simmering until they’re reduced to half of the amount you began with. Stir well and keep an eye on them. Remove from heat and place in a bowl to cool for about 15 minutes.
  2. In a larger bowl, place the remaining ingredients, including the other, raw blueberries, lemon zest & juice, salt, cornstarch.  Add the first berries and combine well with a spatula or wooden spoon, folding under as you combine well.
  3. Pour in the pre-made pie shell and dot with the teaspoon of butter (separated into 4 tiny pieces) scattered about the top.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Remove the chilled ball of dough, unwrap and place in a medium sized bowl. Using the pastry blender tool or forks, create crumbs. What we’re doing is crumbling the dough until the tiny balls of it are about the size of peas. Sprinkle all over the berry mixture.Here’s a photo of the raw pie at this step.
  6. Place the pie on a baking sheet (this promotes even distribution of heat and helps the bottom crust bake) and then place in that 400 degree oven on the lowest shelf for 20 minutes.
  7. Then, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes.  The crumbs should be a golden color and rim of pie also golden.  Cool the pie on a rack for at least 2 to 2 ½ hours, before serving.

My Tip:

I use a pie “protector ring” on my crust so it doesn’t burn.  These are available at most kitchen specialty shops. Here in the Northeast we have “Bed, Bath and Beyond” where I got mine! If the crust seems to be getting too brown, you can even cut a few strips of aluminum foil and make your own protective cover for the rim. Don’t cover the whole pie, just the outer crust.

Hope you like it. I love this and have to force myself to stop eating it! But then again, we  do have a major sweet tooth in my family!

About Annette Marie

Annette Marie

Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free

Annette is a native New Yorker, now living in New Jersey.  Since she was diagnosed with celiac disease well after the age of 50, Annette has made it her mission to raise awareness in the hopes that others won’t have to live for years with unexplained symptoms as she did.  Some of Annette’s recipes are inspired by traditional Italian recipes, but she adds other original gluten-free recipes to the mix.  Her “semi-homemade” and from “scratch” recipes are meant for busy families eating gluten-free.  For more of Annette’s gluten-free recipes, visit her blog at www.BestLifeGlutenFree.com.

June 5, 2013 at 8:55 am Leave a comment


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