Monday, October 17, 2011

Playing With My Pumpkins

I love everything about fall: the leaves changing, weekend drives into the country, pumpkin patches (we still need to do this, friend), embracing the last of the sunflowers from summer and preparing them as food for the birds of winter, making bonfires, and my favorite fall food. It’s the best! But then again, if you were to ask me a few months from now, I will probably say winter food is best. (LOL)

Seasonal foods vary, and they are all wonderful, but there is something extra special about fall, and I think that has a little something do with pumpkins. I love playing with mine! I enjoy creating jack-o’-lanterns, serving soups and stews in the small ones, making homemade pumpkins pies, and at the top of my list, enjoying pumpkins seeds. They are a great snack and, the best of all, gluten-free.

I keep it simple, extracting the seeds from the pumpkin, salt and bake. However, I saw a recipe on Facebook from Whole Foods, which had a few extra steps. I never thought about rinsing and boiling the seeds for 10 minutes. Now I know!

In addition to salt, I added garlic and rosemary. They are delish! I’ll definitely be taking a handful of these with me on my next hike with my gal pal, Hannah.

Fall is here to stay, for now, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it, getting outdoors as often as I can, and when the temperature drops after the sun goes down I’m going to take my fall fun indoors, kicking back to relax, enjoying a favorite malbec wine and a warming fire.

Here’s to fall and its fabulousness. Here’s to creating memories with friends, and for my special friends (my celiacs) – here’s to it being forever gluten-free, always living our best life one meal at a time. Cheers!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (makes about 2 cups)


1 medium pumpkin
4 cups water1-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 250°F. Cut off top 3 to 4 inches of pumpkin then scoop out seeds onto a clean work surface. Discard stringy fiber from seeds along with any seeds that are split or cracked then transfer to a strainer and rinse well. (You should have about 2 cups of seeds.)
In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Add seeds, reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes. Drain well then transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet tray and pat dry.Transfer seeds to a medium bowl, toss with oil and spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast seeds, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until just crisp and golden brown, about 1 hour total. (They will become crispier as they cool.) Set aside to let cool completely then shell or eat whole.

For spicy pumpkin seeds, mix 1/2 teaspoon each garlic salt, cumin, coriander and cardamom with seeds and oil before roasting. For sweet pumpkin seeds, mix 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger and 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar with seeds and oil before roasting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2 Years In The Life

Lately, I haven’t written much on my celiac blog, channeling most of my energy into my main online journal – However, I am still “living my best life one meal at a time.”

I have been traveling the road of a celiac for two years. Prior to that, I spent two years in hell, juggling doctors and playing guesswork to figure out what kept my body from functioning normally.

To get me where I needed to be I utilized one of the principal tools of clinical research (which happens to be my profession) to conquer my nemesis. I kept a diary of my daily routines and habits – exercise, food intake, etc., to look at trends in an attempt to discover what might have caused my body not to thrive. It was then that I learned gluten was the culprit. (There were signs for years, but they were mild and manageable, and never kept me from living my best life. Sadly, that changed. I bypassed moderate and moved right into severe.)

It has been one hell of a journey – full of challenge, change and surprise. I’ve come a long way. I’m a survivor!

I still have my moments when gluten accidentally enters my life. As careful as I am – it happens, and I know because my body tells me, but I never move beyond mild, taking steps to manage my symptoms so that I can stay active and strong.

I have always been good to my body, treating it like the true temple it is. However, these days I take extra care because it’s even more special to me, and to my friends too (thank you for always championing my cause).

I am here to tell all, take care of your body. No matter what we do – moderation must be our guide, and if you are someone like me with an “extreme allergy” – the answer in short is – “NO!” For me it’s “no” to gluten.

I’m two years in the life, and I very seldom look back, but I do on occasion because it helps me appreciate where I am today. I love saying, I am still living my best life one meal at a time – and I really am. Never forget – healthy makes it happen. Cheers! – paerki

I love sharing gluten-free recipes, and this one is a keeper. It’s scrumptious. Enjoy!

Roasted Grapes (Below is the original recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. I have altered the recipe. Please see notes below.)


1 pound rinsed, stemmed red seedless grapes
1-tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon fresh-ground pepper


In a 12 by 15 inch baking pan, mix grapes, olive oil, fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Bake in a 400-degree oven, shaking pan occasionally, until grapes are beginning to blister, 15 to 18 minutes. Use immediately or let stand until ready to use, up to 4 hours.


I used ¼ cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of fresh-ground pepper and 2-tablespoons of garlic powder. Cook 23 minutes.

When serving sprinkle the plate with a generous amount of fresh Parmesan cheese, add grapes and drizzle the juices from the pan.

I would definitely serve this with French bread, in my case, Udi’s gluten-free bread.

The next time around I’ll add chopped garlic too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No Longer Tortured

Sadly, so many of us were tortured as children because we were made to eat things we didn’t like, for instance, Brussels sprouts. However, I was one of those odd children because I loved them, but they had to be overcooked, or as my friend, Sharon, would say, "they have to be cooked to death."

Times have changed, and my love for Brussells sprouts hasn’t. Well, maybe just a little. The thought of overcooking them is an abomination. Lightly seasoned and roasted, they are heaven!

I found a recipe online that I liked, but of course had to add my own twist to it, which had me paring them with carrots, and adding additional spices, orange zest, peppercorns and honey. You must try this recipe! It’s that good, and easy too.

The best part for me is it’s gluten-free. I’m still living my best life one meal at a time and hope you are too, Celiac. – paerki

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Zest & Whole Peppercorns

6 cups fresh Brussels sprouts (peel outer layer and slice in half)

2 cups fresh carrots (slice to medium thickness)

2 tablespoons orange zest

¼ cup of balsamic vinegar

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

2 tablespoons whole peppercorns

2 tablespoons garlic (minced)

1 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons honey

Add sprouts and carrots to large bowl. Add EVOO and coat evenly. Add remaining ingredients and coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 375.

Grease baking sheet and pour mixture. Roast 10 minutes. Stir. Roast an additional 10 minutes.

You’re done! Now, wasn’t that easy?
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