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Adventures in Veganism

February 16th, 2011 by Brooke
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You know when you go on a trip and you spend hours upon hours doing research and planning and fantasizing about what you’ll do and where you’ll go and where you’ll eat? Going gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, booze-free, coffee-free on the Crazy Sexy Diet is kind of like that. Honest. Restricted veganism is far less drudgery than I ever imagined. It’s a lot of work, but it’s adventurous work.

Everything you thought you knew about food is new again when you are choosing not to eat meat, dairy or gluten. In the eight days we’ve been on this vegan exploration we’ve unearthed food blogs we didn’t know existed, read about restaurants we’ve never tried, discovered ingredients we’ve never had occasion to use, begun shopping in a completely different grocery store and found ourselves hunting for items (like tofu and tempeh and vegenaise) in aisles we didn’t know existed. We’ve started reading labels all over again and found egg in most of our gluten-free goodies. Either way,  it’s exciting and, if you’re looking to spice up your marriage, try a [restricted] diet — the thrill of conquering each day – together – has worked wonders on our “new parent” marriage communication lull! We’ve even added exercise to the mix – downloading a bunch of  workout apps and running a great Valentine’s 5K. There are supplements and a juicer to talk about, too, but not in this post. The start-up cost will give you a heart attack and I’d rather you focused on the food.

Everyone is asking, so here’s a list of the recipes we’ve tried. It goes without saying that you would add a HUGE green salad or other heaping, preferably raw, serving of vegetables to every meal. I would humbly like to acknowledge two of my new favorite blogs: Fresh365 and SoGood&Tasty.

  • Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili - We used quinoa for the grain. For Bon Appetit, this wasn’t as good as we’d hoped. I added apple cider vinegar and cinnamon to my lunch servings and it upped the wow significantly.
  • Sunshine veggie burgers with baked sweet potato fries – Sunshine veggie patties are out of this world.
  • “Peanut noodles” – Blanched zucchini, broccoli, and carrot over buckwheat soba noodles which we took right from the book. This sauce on the So Good and Tasty blog is almost the exact same thing. I used the leftover on brown rice cakes the next day – delish!
  • Rice pasta with homemade raw spinach basil pesto (We made this up and used nutritional yeast in place of parmesan.)
  • Green Miso Soup with tofu over buckwheat soba noodles – Another great dish from the So Good and Tasty blog. The soup was slightly bland but comforting and good. The Green Sauce is so delicious and addictive. I mixed it with some noodles on its own the next day and was blissfully happy.
  • Spaghetti squash with garlic paste, olive oil and cherry tomatoes – We made this up, too, and it was great.
  • Chickpea fritters (falafel) — We’ve eaten these twice already (using Bob’s gluten-free all-purpose flour and corn starch in place of the wheat flour) and they are so unbelievably good, it’s hard to believe there is no egg in these spongy, tasty, rich fritters. We serve them over greens with this amazing curry dressing that is definitely going to become a mainstay in our house.
  • Smoky Black Bean Tacos. We had these for our romantic Valentine’s Day dinner and used a half Tofutti, half Vegenaise mixture with adobo liquid mixed in to spoof a pretty spot-on smoky sour cream sauce. Our sprouted corn tortillas were also the best corn tortillas I’ve ever had.

We even went out for sushi once (miso, edamame, tofu and veggie rolls with gluten-free soy sauce we brought in my purse).  Some unexpected highlights (besides a healthier marriage) have emerged, too. When you eat a plant-based diet your cooking time goes down significantly — just chop and combine — meaning less time on your feet and in the kitchen. And with our salads, smoothies and juicing — there is was not a single vegetable morsel that went unused in our first seven days. That’s amazing, we throw out more food on a regular basis than I would like to admit!

So, eight days into this vegan cleanse, we’re feeling pretty amazing. Still recovering from persistent winter coughs but overall we both feel a clarity and a vigor that is usually tucked far, far away in February.

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Crazy Sexy Mommy

February 12th, 2011 by Brooke
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Crazy Sexy Diet bookcover
When you become a parent, three things happen.

1. You can’t find time to post to your blog. Really.

2. You become hyper-aware of what’s going into your child’s body – (be it food, toys or dusty nickels from the floor).

3. You start to conceive of a legacy.

And the next thing you know, you are on a 21-day vegan adventure. Huh?

Ok, the first is just an excuse for the DC Gluties hiatus. (One of us had a baby, the other has been busy carrying one.)

The second has been eye-opening for our entire household. My time breastfeeding warrants its own blog entry, so I’ll save it for another day, but fast forward to feeding the Little Guy solid foods and hearing myself constantly asking,”Is it organic?” and “How long has that been sitting open?”  and “Is that BPA free?” and “Why is it ever ok to eat meat from a jar?” All good questions. Even for grownups.

Then, there’s the Presidential fantasy. You know the one, where you watch your kid banging the garbage can with a old magnet and you can’t help but think, “Yep, future president.” And then you flash to him as a man, a grown man, and your brain wanders through a lifetime of scenarios and eventually you’re left to consider what the environment might be like, and you feel positively sick at the thought of landfills and tainted watersheds and pea-soup smog and you want to hurl yourself in front of the next person that reaches for a Styrofoam cup. And suddenly, you find yourself leaning into this idea of a legacy. And you vow to be a model citizen of the earth and set the example by leaving the smallest footprint you could. And to have him only bear witness to you eating food that nourishes your body. And, well, to live forever.

So, the vegan thing. In December, I stumbled upon a book called the Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. I remembered her from the TLC documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer and, thumbing through the book, quickly realized she had distilled all of her wellness knowledge into a lifestyle book packed with testimonials from people who made great improvements with autoimmune diseases. And, suffering from an overwhelming need to reinvent myself for the new year, as well as seek ways to transition back to a drug-free Crohn’s management protocol, I bought it and read the whole thing over the holidays.

In it, a plan is laid for change and growth from the inside out beginning with reversing your genetic destiny through food and wellness practices and ending with a 21-day gluten-free, booze free, coffee-free, alkaline vegan “adventure” cleanse. In between is a good talking-to about sleep, skin care, supplements, self care, meditation, yoga, purpose, neti pots, happiness and 35 minutes of moving every day.

And so, my fearless husband agreed to do it if I did all the homework and today is day five. In short, I’m proud to report that we have no intentions of falling off the gluten-free, vegan wagon (God, it just sounds like a hippie bus). A lot of smoothies, sprouts, snot, dollars, and downward dogs later, our marriage is ten pounds lighter and I’m seeing everything through a technicolor kaleidescope. Nothing is what it used to be, meaning and learning are everywhere. We’re having a blast. It is truly an adventure. And so, for the time being, I’m going to use DCGluties.com as a way to let you know what this all feels like…Just not tonight. I need my beauty sleep.

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Rocklands BBQ Rocks It with Gluten-Free Beer NOW on the Menu

October 6th, 2010 by Brooke
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Exciting news! Here’s an email I just got from Rockland’s Arlington this morning.

We asked (ok, kind of whined) and we shall receive! A perfect addition to go with a heaping plate of meat laced with sensational smokey fall flavors.

From: Deborah
Date: Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 10:38 AM
Subject: Gluten Free Beer Now at Rocklands Arlington

Rocklands Arlington [map] now carries Lakefront New Grist Gluten Free Beer.

Our address is 3471 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201.  (703) 528-9663.

Debbie
ROCKLANDS Barbeque and Grilling Company
2418 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20007
www.rocklands.com

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Meat Me at Rocklands BBQ – Arlington

September 11th, 2010 by Brooke
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Recently, my parents were in town and my dad suggested we get some BBQ for dinner. I jumped on Yelp to find some local establishments serving savory meaty treats, and was reminded of Rocklands in Arlington, near the Virginia Square metro stop. Before my gluten-free days, and when I was in my 20s, I often enjoyed some Rocklands BBQ for a quick dinner when I was slugging beers at Carpool. (Rockland’s used to be inside of Carpool but they have since moved to their own free-standing building on Washington Boulevard.)

I wasn’t 100% sure any items on Rocklands menu were gluten free, but we ordered just about one of everything: brisket, chicken, ribs, potato salad, corn pudding, baked beans, coleslaw, apple compote, collards, beans and rice, and mac and cheese. I risked it – trying everything but the corn pudding and mac and cheese and it was all very good – the smoky flavors of the meat (particularly the brisket) had such good depth and the cool potato salad was a perfect foil to the tangy BBQ sauce. Truth be told: the coleslaw could be better.

However, even after electing to eat all the food, I remained curious about just how GF Rocklands’ food really is. I Googled a bit but didn’t find much. I did however, find a very intriguing recipe on Washingtonian’s Best Bites blog from Rocklands proprietor John Snedden…the recipe for the corn pudding; the same corn pudding I so coveted that first night we got Rocklands take-out with parents. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? A recipe with no wheat flour to be sure. Too good to be true? Let’s see about the creamed corn first…

To write this post, I spoke to Rocklands directly and here’s what I learned. Turns out the Rocklands ORIGINAL BBQ sauce is gluten free and the corn pudding is made with creamed corn containing modified food starch which did not indicate any wheat ingredients. The best news? Rocklands is entertaining the thought of putting a gluten-free beer on the menu after my gentle nudging. Be sure if you go, to inquire about that – there’s strength in numbers!

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New Recipe: Blue Cheese and Fig Pizza

August 29th, 2010 by Brandi
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So, by now most of you may have heard the news. Chef John took “The Next Food Network Star” title, but it was a good run. Thanks again for all of your support!

While the Food Network may have chosen me for the top 15, there were a lot of critics out there who weren’t sure how a salad could make the cut. I promised a video as I made this pizza, but we lost power, and it wasn’t meant to be. Even though I don’t have a video, I can provide the recipe! It’s heavy, so it makes a better appetizer than main course. I might serve with a light arugula salad on the side. 

INGREDIENTS

Crust:

In a pinch, you can turn to any frozen pizza crust out there, but it’s best to start with a dough-based frozen crust (not a pre-baked crust). You will want to press the dough out to form a thin crust for this recipe. I used Gillian’s, available in the freezer section of the Clarendon Whole Foods.

Here is a link to another pizza recipe from our site if you have time to make some dough from scratch.

Blue Cheese Sauce:

1/4 lb of blue cheese (try to find one with a good balance of veins and cheese – it will melt more evenly)

1/4 cup of butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

Toppings:

1/4 cup of fig jam

1/2 cup of chopped, dried figs

1/4 cup of chopped, cooked bacon

PREPARATION

Press the dough out into a pan to the thickness you prefer (I recommend a thin crust for this pizza, but choose your poison). Bake according to crust directions for 10 minutes, until crust is firm, but not cooked through. Remove from oven.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. When the butter is melted but not yet bubbling, add the garlic. Slowly crumble the blue cheese into the butter and stir constantly until melted. The cheese should be smooth, not separated. If it is separated, add more cheese until the texture evens out.

Mix chopped figs and jam in a small bowl. Spread the blue cheese on the pre-baked pizza crust and drop dollops of the fig mixture on the pizza. Sprinkle bacon across pizza.

Bake for 15 minutes, until cheese begins to brown. Let stand for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

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