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Hello {!firstname_fix},

I would love to welcome all of the new subscribers to this newsletter. I am very happy you signed up to receive it and I hope you will find some fun and useful nuggets in here.  
Now before I go any further, don't forget to read the recipe this month.  There's something I'm letting out of the bag first with my newsletter readers.  
In this issue you will find my story about making the shift to living gluten free and the mistakes I made.  I hope you can learn from them.  
Next there's an update on the successful 30 Days to a Food Revolution and how you can support this cause.
And of course a recipe I've not shared with the general public yet.  Make sure you read the whole thing.
Thank you again and please, feel free to pass along this newsletter to others. After all, it's free!

Have a great month!


In This Issue..

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Latest Blog Posts

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 21- Gluten Free Gidget

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 20 - Cook4Seasons

 I Can't Eat What And It's Where?

May is Celiac Awareness Month

One way to share Celiac Awareness Month is to share our stories.  Shirley, author of gluten free easily, asked if I would share my story on her blog.  Here is what I shared.  I hope you will find some helpful tips.  I also hope you will share your experience with others too. 

I Can't Eat What And It's Where?

I remember when I was first told that gluten was most likely making me sick.  I had kept a food journal and shared all of my blood tests and symptoms with a doctor.  That didn't get me very far with that doctor.  But he did send me to a nutritionist.  She picked up on the issue with gluten right away.  So my homework assignment was to not eat gluten for 30 days and then eat something containing gluten like a piece of bread and see what happened.  When she told me that gluten was in wheat, barley, rye and often oats due to cross contamination I thought well, that's not so bad.  How much of that food am I really eating?  And then she told me where you really find gluten.

At that point in my life I was feeling really bad and was ready to stand on my head on a top of a pineapple if it helped me get better.  She gave me a list of safe and unsafe foods.   Also a list of long chemical names if I was to read labels that could contain hidden gluten.  I stopped at my doctor's office on the way home to be tested for Celiac Disease.  Best to be tested before you go off gluten.

I had felt good so far that day.  I had only eaten an egg and some fruit.  I got home and really didn't know what to eat. I was a little panicked but stuck to real food ingredients I had on hand.  It was a small lunch.  I realized I had not taken my vitamin so had that too.  Within 5 minutes I was bloated, aching all over again, foggy brained and a few more bad things to boot.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  I was following what she said.  Then I remembered the vitamins.  I grabbed the bottle and read the label.  Wheat!  My vitamins had gluten in them.  I won't tell you what came out of my mouth or how far the bottle went flying.  I ended up in a heap on the floor crying.  What was I going to do when I couldn't even take a vitamin?  What was I going to eat?  I was going to starve there on my kitchen floor.

After 20 minutes or so, I got up and grabbed the materials she had given me.  Found a list of resources of books and started searching for them and more online.  I read through what she had given me with a little understanding of what was required, but not an understanding of how I was going to live like this.  I found only a few blogs online including Gluten Free Goddess and Gluten Free Girl.  I gorged myself on any information on gluten free living I could find.  Compared to what's out there now, it didn't take too long to read them all.

By the end of that first day I had gone through everything in my pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  If it was safe I marked it with a big GF with my black sharpie.  If it wasn't I'd circle the culprit ingredient.  It took forever because we had a lot of processed foods. 

I went and bought myself my own jars of things that others might cross contaminate and marked them as mom's, keep clean.  I moved all of the GF things to one shelf.  I didn't have very many.  I was actually shocked at how much of the foods we ate contained gluten.  My nutritionist kept telling me to eat single ingredient foods.  I thought she meant one at a time.  I thought that was horrible and immediately went out to buy gluten free packaged foods.  I thought it would make it easier to live gluten free. 

I started feeling better and during this time I kept planning what my gluten "test" food was going to be when the 30 days was up.  I thought heck, a slice of bread, I'm eating cake, the really good chocolate cake from Wegman's.  Once in a while I would get a little gluten from cross contamination.  Boy would I get sick.  All of those really bad symptoms would come back in a blink of an eye.  Well by the end of those 30 days you could not have paid me any amount of money to eat gluten.  I could tell it was the problem.  Don't eat it and I start to feel better and allow my body to heal.  Eat a crumb and the results are almost instant, severe and last outwardly for a week. 

That was February 2007 and I have not willingly eaten gluten since.  Sure, there have been instances of cross contamination which I pay dearly for, but there is no way, and under no circumstances where I would eat gluten.  I think of it like poison because that is how it acts in my body.  I describe it to people who want to have me over to eat or try to bring it into my house as e-coli.  You wouldn't dream of knowingly touch something with e-coli with anything you were preparing food with, cooking the food or eating the food.  You would get sick. 

Well I will get sick if I eat gluten.  When I say sick I'm talking about the outward symptoms I can see and feel.  I'm not even talking about the internal damage that is being done to my body.  The damage that takes longer than a week to heal from. 

So as time went on I went from a pantry having 1 shelf of gluten free foods to a few shelves to all of them.  The same thing was true in the refrigerator.  Then I had my family tested and found out they had reactions to gluten too.  So far none of us has ever tested positive for Celiac Disease, but don't tell my body that.  It reacts in the same way as if it did. 

Now our house is completely gluten free.  After the first year of living gluten free I was realizing I didn't feel that great.  I could notice more things going on in my body.  I then discovered that dairy was a problem for me too and rice.  Well when I found out I couldn't eat rice I was forced off almost all processed gluten free products.  It is the BEST thing that ever happened to me.  I was now forced to eat single ingredient items, real food, whole foods, foods you have to wash (Melissa's saying from Gluten Free For Good), naked foods, or however you want to describe those ingredients you use from nature to make recipes.  Once again I had to go through my pantry to mark what contained rice.

Here is my one wish for anyone making the shift to living gluten free and the one I wish I had understood in February 2007.  Save yourself a lot of time and especially money and don't make the same mistake I made.  Don't jump from gluten filled processed foods to gluten free processed foods.  I can't even tell you how much money I wasted.  How much time I wasted!  My local homeless shelter was happy to get the foods I tossed and I was happy to get rid of them.  But really, what was the purpose of buying them.  Why did I buy them? 

The answer is FEAR.  I was so afraid of eating the wrong thing that would make me sick that I went right for something that had the gluten free stamp.  It never crossed my mind that when I walked into the produce section of the grocery store that it had a huge gluten free stamp on it, the same thing with fresh seafood and meats. All I really needed to do was look for organic.  Buying meats that were given no antibiotics or hormones makes it easy.  Not the chickens that are injected with seasonings or flavors but fresh organic chickens.  How much easier that would have been.  Instead of spending 3 hours grocery shopping for a basket full of processed foods that I would spend so much time and effort reading, I could have been in and out of the store in no time.

Now the body's healing is a long process, especially for someone my age who has been slowly driving it mad with those foods it does not tolerate.  I'm like an onion with many layers.  I keep finding new things that my body doesn't like.  The best part is when I remove them I feel amazing.  Yes, some are harder than others to give up.  But once you give up gluten and you realize life goes on, anything is now possible.

So here are the steps I took to making the transition to living gluten free:

  • Identified everything in my house that contained gluten and marked it

  • Separated out the foods that were gluten free 

  • Made a list of all of the foods that are naturally gluten free when not processed

  • Tried some new foods.  If I can eat it I'll give it a try even if it's something in the past I would not have touched with a 10 foot pole (Brussels sprouts and beets)

  • Got back into the kitchen and started cooking, instead of just heating and eating

  • Gathered support from my immediate family

  • Gathered support from the blogging world and gluten free community at large

  • Gradually learned how to eat out again

Now I also:

  • Plan my menu for the month

  • Buy 95% non-processed foods

  • Eat more raw foods in my smoothies

  • Keep track of my recipes and what I learned on my blog

  • Keep meeting more and more wonderful gluten free friends

  • Have people over to eat who know I live gluten and dairy free but never miss it

  • Cater parties gluten and dairy free

  • Teach others how to live gluten free

  • Give others ideas on how to eat real food

  • Started 30 Days to a Food Revolution

  • Cook from single ingredient real food and freeze the leftovers for my fast meals

  • Eat out often but at restaurants that create their own dishes from real food

  • Always learning more and more along the way

  • Eat more local produce and what is in season

  • Don't make decisions based on fear, but hope and joy

30 Days to A Food Revolution!

30 Days, 30 Tips, 30 Recipes, 30 Bloggers

I hope you have been following along with this event.  If not you are really missing out.  It's been so well received that even Jamie Oliver himself has been tweeting about it too.  Make sure you find all of the great information being shared.  There are lots of great guest blog posts, a Facebook group and fun things to buy on Zazzle.  Stop by Facebookand join our group.  Don't forget to leave a comment, a question, a recipe, or anything you find on topic.  Then visit the Zazzle shop where you can purchase items with our I Cook Real Food logo.  50% of the profits go right to the Huntington Kitchen, formerly known as Jamie's Kitchen.  Oh and one last thing, don't forget to comment on the blog posts and tweet about each post to gather up more entries to win one of those great cookbooks donated by our guest bloggers.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

There was a lot of excitement recently that Hamburger Helper was coming out with a gluten free version.  I'm guessing it's still going to be full of (&@!#! that we shouldn't eat, nor would I want to eat.  So that got me thinking, why not make my own version of that meal.  I'll put this up against any box meal you want and I'll bet it costs less and tastes better.  Oh, and you can pronounce every ingredient.

*Here's your newsletter advantage because you'll know about this way before others.  I hope it gives you a chance to work on it so you'll have something great to share. 

I plan on sharing this recipe on the blog and offering up a challenge.  I want to find out what your version of a Homemade Hamburger Helper would be.  I'll be asking for photos and/or recipes.  I'll post them and then someone will win something.  Not sure what yet, but anyone who comes up with a quick easy recipe that has real ingredients in it instead of opening boxes of chemicals, well they deserve a prize. 

Here's my new family favorite.


1 pound organic local ground beef

1 1/2 cup pasta shells or elbows-gluten free

2 cups hot beef stock

1 15 oz can of tomato sauce

1 TB tomato paste

2 tsp minced toasted onion*

1 tsp minced garlic*

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

1 tsp parsley


Brown the beef and drain the fat.  Add in the tomato paste and combine.  Add in everything else except the parsley.  Combine and bring to a boil.  Cover and turn down to simmer for 14 minutes.  When the time is up mix in the parsley and serve.  It's just that easy.


*Fresh chopped onion and garlic work great.  Cook them with the ground beef.

If you don't have broth, water will work.

You can substitute a different ground meat for the beef.