Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lifestyles of the Tired and Cranky

The last week has been filled with cooking - imagine my surprise - but not so much energy. I'm sure every parent has weeks like this. You stay up late to finish something you've been trying to do for days now, and the next morning, you're up bright and early to cook for your 'day of errands.'

But that's okay, you'll just go to bed early and catch up on your sleep, right?

Ha ha, very funny.

Kids don't fall asleep on time when you need them to, do they? I believe it's a corollary to Murphy's laws. And just to ensure that a parent remains sleep deprived, one child wakes up with a nightmare in the middle of the night, then the other wakes up a few hours later with the same, and before you know it, it's morning again.

And on it goes for the next night, and the next, until you are hallucinating that your house phone called 911 without human help and the police show up at 3am to make sure everyone is all right. Except, of course, that you're not hallucinating. It really happened - it's just so Twilight Zone that it should be a hallucination.

Not kidding on that one. My house is calling for help. I wonder what that says about my housecleaning?

Needless to say, with the downturn in energy levels, desire to cook has dropped like a stone. We still did it though. We made hordes of food, like Gluten-free dairy-free egg-free pancakes, dairy-free smoothies, GF sugarcane-free puffed millet snacks and even a GF lasagna (I'll thank my husband for that one.).

And they didn't turn out too badly. Here, see for yourself.

Shauna's food montage

GF DF egg-free Pancakes
We made these ones using a homemade GF flour mixture (3 parts brown rice flour, 3 parts tapioca starch, 2 parts sorghum flour, and 1 part millet flour), water, salt, and agave syrup. We can't use baking powder, so we substituted cream of tartar and baking soda.

The pancakes did much better if we kept them small - 1/8 of a cup of batter. They turned more easily if they cooked a bit longer than normal pancakes. Also, letting them rest a bit first helped the baking soda and cream of tartar react more and gave more bubbles.

We've tried this with orange juice instead of water, and it gave a nice flavor! Although I think we should have cut down on the cream of tartar - the extra acidity of the juice really set off the baking soda. It was like pancake-baking soda volcano.

DF Smoothie
1 cup each frozen pineapple, frozen strawberries, and frozen mango
1 baby banana, frozen (Those tiny, exotic ones. Their name? Um...banana Jr? *slinks off* Half a normal banana should work, too)
about 2 cups orange juice (Simply Orange brand doesn't add any corn syrup, etc...)

Mix together and blend like a crazy person until you reach desired consistency. Makes about 2 monster servings, or 4 normal servings

GF sugarcane-free Puffed Millet Snack
This is one of those 'throw together and hope for the best' type of snacks. For ingredients, our first attempt had puffed millet cereal, sunbutter (sunflower butter - processed in a peanut free facility), and agave syrup. The result is a bit soft, texture-wise, but not too bad. It sticks together well. I think pressing it into a pan and cutting that into bars would do all right.

We tried toasting to remedy the softer texture.

Not something I'd recommend. Burnt sunflower butter is not something you forget any time soon.

We've also added cacao nibs and dried fruit, and we were thinking of toasting the millet ahead of time, but haven't done so, yet.

GF lasagna
This turned out wonderfully, but I don't know how often we'll get to make it in the future.

We've added in dairy to our diet, as small amounts look okay for the kids, so we were able to use that here. Tomatoes were our latest addition, but the results for them weren't as positive. We'll have to stay away from them and try again later.

For the lasagna, we used Tinkyada brand rice lasagna noodles, Amy's organic family marinara pasta sauce (it is the only one that is sugarcane free), mozzarella and ricotta cheese (we splurged), and browned ground buffalo meat. We mixed the meat and sauce together, we mixed the cheeses together, and then we layered noodles, sauce, and cheese on the way up.

Some notes about the lasagna:
1. You don't have to cook the noodles first! The package directions say that you should, but as long as you cover the top layer of noodles with sauce and cheese, there is usually enough moisture in the lasagna to cook the noodles just fine. If you are worried there won't be enough moisture, I would add a little liquid to the sauce to compensate.
2. If you can't have dairy, the best dairy substitute we've tried for lasagna has been soft tofu, mashed with a fork and mixed with a few seasonings, like salt and oregano. You use it just like you would use the cheese.

If you are interested in some of the products we listed above, here they are...

Product Recommendations:
Simply Orange Orange Juice - We find this at our local grocery store. There are many variations, one of which has added calcium, so that may be a good choice for people who need some calcium help after going dairy free. Especially in the beginning, when you're still figuring it all out. It is also one of the cheaper juices that does NOT come from a concentrate.

- This stuff is made in a peanut free facility, according to their PR. The jar looks just like your regular ole peanut butter jar. It's a bit less thick than peanutbutter, and not quite the same taste, but not too bad as a substitute. If you can't find it at your local healthfood store, here's their website: You can order small tubs, too.

Arrowheadmills Puffed Millet Cereal - This is millet and absolutely nothing else. The company makes a few other puffed cereals as well, such as puffed corn. I have found the corn and wheat versions often, but the puffed millet can be harder to find, so you might need to buy on-line:

Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles - We've liked many of the Tinkyada products - good texture, no after-taste. For any of their pastas, if you stop the cooking a few minutes early, drain them, and dump the sauce in for the last bit of cooking, the noodles will absorb the sauce. This helps avoid the 'tasteless' flavor of rice pasta. However, currently they do not sell from their website, so if you can't find it at the healthstore, you have to look for on-line grocery stores. Googling Tinkyada+price will often get you a good site. Their website is useful for seeing what products they make, however:

Re: Amy's pasta sauce. Once again, I am not - entirely - recommending it. The taste is fine. If you don't have gluten issues, it's probably a pretty good choice. However, I am still finding accounts of people who have reacted as though glutened to Amy's GF products. So, I'm erring on the side of caution and not recommending this for people on a GF diet. If you do wish to find Amy's products, however, here's the website:


  1. Hm. I seem to have no luck with t-yada noodles. Do you do anything different besides rinse with cold water?

  2. Yeah, we don't end up rinsing in cold water at all. We cook the for about 2-4 minutes less than the directions, drain them, and then put them back in the pot, add our sauce and cook for the last few minutes.

    I think if you rinse with the cold water first, it stops them from absorbing the sauce as well, although I'll be honest, that's just a guess!

    (and sorry this took so long to reply to! I had the wrong setting on my blog so wasn't getting any notifications. Sigh - computer idiocy, at it's best, LOL)