Tag Archives: gluten-free diet

Daring Cooks: The World of Pierogi

This is another great example of why I love the Daring Cooks’ and Bakers’ Challenges. It’s all about taking yourself out of your box – making something you wouldn’t ordinarily make. Maybe this “something” seems too difficult. Maybe it seems as though it will take too long, or maybe it’s been on your list of “things to do”, but you haven’t gotten around to making it yet.

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

I never tried to make pierogies before this challenge. Not because of the reasons mentioned above. Honestly, I never even tried eating them before either. They didn’t sound unappetizing, of course, but they weren’t on the top of my list of things to try. I didn’t know what to expect with this challenge because of my lack of experience with pierogies, so I was a bit nervous. But after brainstorming on fillings (I chose to make sweet potato and rosemary, as I had a bunch of rosemary in my garden, and smoked pork shoulder and mashed potato, as I smoked a bunch of meat a few days prior), I figured I’d give them a try.

Little did I know how well they’d turn out. My husband raved about them. Raved. He exclaimed that he could imagine these could be served at all sorts of parties and could see them being a big hit with a crowd. I didn’t disagree – and the ones I made were gobbled up by the two of us that evening. I can see endless variations of fillings for these things, both sweet and savory. Needless to say, I underestimated pierogies. Now, I’m sold.

 

Sweet Potato-Rosemary Pierogi Filling (makes enough for 30+ pierogies)

2 c mashed, cooked sweet potato (I simply microwaved whole sweet potatoes until cooked, scooped out the insides, and mashed)

1/2 t fresh rosemary needles, chopped

1 T Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together mashed sweet potatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste. Fill pierogies with this filling. (Leftover filling makes a great side dish for another meal.)

 

Pork and Potato Pierogi Filling (makes enough for 30+ pierogies)

1 c mashed, cooked potato (I simply microwaved potatoes until cooked, scooped out the insides and mashed)

2 c finely chopped smoked pork shoulder (ham can be substituted)

1/2 t fresh sage leaves, chopped

1/2 t dry mustard

2 T Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

1 T nutritional yeast flakes (optional, but create a somewhat “cheesy” flavor)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients and season to taste. Fill pierogies with filling.

 

Gluten-Free Pierogies, adapted from What I Eat (makes about 18 small pierogies or 12 larger ones)

1/3 c tapioca starch

1/3 c sweet white rice flour

2 T potato starch

1/2 t sea salt

1 T xanthan gum

2 eggs

1 T grapeseed oil

Combine flours, salt, and xanthan gum in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl, and then whisk in oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until combined. You can then knead this into a ball.

Grab small portions of the dough at a time and roll out on parchment paper (I rolled it out on a Silpat) to 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 or 4 inch circle biscuit or cookie cutter, cut rounds from the dough. Repeat until all of the dough has been rolled out and cut. Place a bit of water in a small bowl, wet your fingertips, and run them around the outside of each circle. This is to help the dough seal. Place a bit less than a teaspoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and then fold in half and carefully seal the edges, either using the tines of a fork, a pierogi form, or your fingers. (I found my fingers to be the easiest.)

To cook pierogies, bring a pot full of salted water to a boil. Lower the pierogies into the boiling water with a slotted spoon and allow to boil for 10-15 minutes or until al dente. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve with desired sauce or melted butter, or allow to cool to room temperature for frying.

To fry: Bring 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (or other frying oil) to medium-high heat in a heavy skillet. Pat the pierogies dry and place in the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until browned. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Serve with melted butter. (I melted Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread and infused fresh sage leaves in the “butter”. While I don’t use that stuff every day, it tasted lovely and was dairy and soy-free!)

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork

Celiac and Gluten Intolerance Awareness

May 2010 is officially Gluten-Free Awareness Month. As I mentioned before, the first-ever Gluten-Free Challenge is happening on May 22-23, 2010 in order to raise awareness. If you’re interested in learning more about the challenge (or taking the challenge!), check it out at http://www.gogfchallenge.com/.

A lot of other things are happening this month in order to promote the awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. For example, check out the 16-page article here in today’s USA Today. It’s a great overview of celiac disease and shares interesting stories of various people with celiac disease. I certainly hope this and other efforts increase awareness. After all, celiac disease is one of the most undiagnosed autoimmune disorders in the world – and particularly in the United States. It is believed that one in 133 Americans have celiac disease (1 in 56 with related symptoms, and 1 in 22 for those with first-degree relatives with diagnosed celiac disease), but approximately 95% of those Americans are undiagnosed. They don’t know they have it. Undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to many complications, including increased risks for cancer, osteoporosis, osteopenia, iron-deficiency anemia, neurological problems, and other related autoimmune diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, or alopecia. Obviously, having celiac disease and not knowing it, and not treating it, has consequences.

What are some of the symptoms of celiac disease? Once upon a time, when celiac disease was considered rare and a childhood disease, diarrhea was one of the primary symptoms. Now, doctors are starting to understand that the symptoms associated with celiac disease are varied. They can include:

– recurring abdominal bloating and/or pain

– chronic diarrhea and/or constipation

– vomiting

– Liver and biliary tract disorders

– weight loss

– pale, foul-smelling stool

– iron-deficiency anemia that does not respond to iron therapy

– fatigue

– failure to thrive or short stature

– delayed puberty

– pain in the joints

– tingling numbness in arms or legs

– painful sores in the mouth

– a skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)

– tooth discoloration or loss of enamel

– unexplained fertility or miscarriage

– GERD

(for more symptoms, visit here)

Many times, people with a range of these symptoms are misdiagnosed with diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, GERD, or countless others. Some people exhibit some of these symptoms, but some people with celiac disease are what they call “silent” celiacs – they exhibit little or no symptoms.

The tests for celiac disease available are relatively straightforward. There is an antibody blood test, and there is a biopsy test. The biopsy is more accurate, as it can potentially show damage to the small intestine (villi) – the “gold standard” indicator of celiac disease. However, there are still those that show negative on these tests, yet their health still improves on the gluten-free diet. These are the people thought to have gluten intolerance. Some were not tested for celiac disease, or perhaps they were tested but the results were negative. (This is what happened to me) Regardless, they know they feel better without gluten. For these people, the proof is in the pudding (or gluten, really). Some research has suggested that gluten intolerance is even more prevalent than celiac disease.

If you or someone you know exhibits some of these symptoms, get tested. In my situation, I was feeling worse and worse. I wasn’t even 30 years old yet, but was fatigued, had constant heartburn, digestive symptoms, vitamin B12 deficiency, tingling and numbness in my hands and feet, and intense brain fog. I was doing everything “right”. I was exercising daily. I wasn’t overweight. I ate a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Yet I continued to feel worse. Even though my blood test came back negative for celiac disease, I knew that I had a family history of gluten intolerance. So I finally made up my mind that I had to try something. So I went on a gluten-free diet for 2 months. Rather quickly, most of the symptoms disappeared. I felt less fatigued. My mind was clear. My heartburn started to go away. And when I “tested” myself (I ate rolls, couscous, and a cookie within 24 hours), I immediately knew. Those symptoms all came rushing back, plus some. I was SICK, and it was dramatic enough that there was no question in my mind. Ever since then, I have been gluten-free, and my health has improved. I am still healing, but it has made a dramatic difference in my life.

Learning to live gluten-free isn’t a piece of cake (haha). But once you understand the rules, it starts to become a routine. The easiest thing to do – and the best thing for your health – is to eat items that are naturally gluten-free. Most Americans eat way too many processed foods anyway, and it takes a toll on their health. For those with gluten intolerance, the toll is even greater. Processed foods have a lot of hard-to-digest preservatives, and many have gluten-containing ingredients (some of which are not readily apparent, even to the best label-readers.). It’s much easier to digest whole, natural foods – fresh chicken, fresh vegetables, steamed rice, etc. For some helpful hints on transitioning to a gluten-free diet, check out Shirley at Gluten Free Easily’s list of 50+ Gluten-Free Items You Can Eat Today or Karina at Gluten Free Goddess’s Gluten-Free ABCs. It’s a big change for many people. I can’t lie to you about that. But I promise you, it’s worth it.

Don’t forget that support is important too. You don’t have to feel isolated. The Gluten Intolerance Group has local chapters – you can feel free to join and attend meetings and such. There are forums, such as Celiac.com, where you can discuss anything, gluten-free related or not.  My preferred support group is right out here in the blog world – I have found friends, even heroes, in my blog reading! You think it’s tough being an adult with gluten intolerance? Check out Elana at Elana’s Pantry or Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom, both of which feed their children gluten-free diets. Shirley at Gluten Free Easily is active in her local gluten-free support groups and is always helpful. Linda at Gluten-Free Homemaker seems to be the queen of baked goods. Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Ali and Tom at Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen really help me out in making super-nutritious, delicious meals. Diane Eblin is driving our newest blog craze, 30 Days to a Food Revolution, over at The W.H.O.L.E Gang. Each of these blog friends and many, many more have been instrumental in not only keeping me sane as I transitioned to a gluten-free diet, but they’ve been inspiring, helpful, and such great friends.

So if you haven’t already signed up for the challenge, please consider it. Also consider increasing celiac and gluten intolerance awareness any way you know how – post updates on Facebook, Twitter, or email your friends.

Don’t Forget!

There’s still time to enter for a chance to win a zoo animal pancake pan! Check it out here!

Resources used for this post include:

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/932104-overview

The Gluten Syndrome.net

The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America

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Filed under Gluten-Free