Italian Food

This week's gluten-free menu:

Sunday - Spaghetti and Meatballs, Green Salad
Monday - Minestrone Soup, Crispy Corn Tortillas
Tuesday - Chicken Cacciatore
Wednesday -Egg Plant Rolls
Thursday - Mediterranean Salmon Salad
Friday - Gluten-Free Pizza, Carrot Sticks and Cut Green Peppers

This month in the Gluten-free menu swap International Foods is the theme for the month. What fun! I love expanding my horizons with different foods and I am excited to try some new recipes. This week the focus is on Italian food. Italian food includes one obvious food that is not gluten-free : Pasta. Luckily there are a lot of nice gluten-free options these days. My favorite is Tikiyada brown rice pasta. I look for the ones with some nutritional value. The new mainstream brands look completely stripped of any nutrients so be on the look out for that.

About This Week
I managed to make the entire week Italian themed this week. This week starts with Spaghetti and Meatballs. In my experience meatballs do just fine without breadcrumbs. I have used a mixture of rice to make them sticky and that works well, but if I keep the meatballs small they stay together for me. I just spice them up and they're yummy. Monday is Minestrone soup and Corn Tortillas. I think I might add some Italian sausage to the soup for some extra flavor and protein. Tuesday is a crock pot night. I'm going to try Chicken Cacciatore in the slow cooker. I have started making Tuesday my crock pot night because I still have some energy and excitement for getting organized at the beginning of the week and I really enjoy coming home to a cooked pot of food. Wednesday and Thursday we are going to try some new recipes. Wednesday I'm going to try an Egg Plant Roll recipe that looks good and possibly kid friendly and Thursday we're having a Mediterranean Salmon Salad which looks pretty easy. Friday we're having Pizza! Mangiamo!

Make sure to check out the menu swap at hosted at Celiac Family this week or check out the menu swap at OrgJunkie (not all gluten-free). Have a great week!

Quick and Easy Meals

spinach quesadillas
This week's gluten-free menu:

Sunday - Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas, Green Salad
Monday - Bok Choy Stir Fry
Tuesday - Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tenderloin
Wednesday - Turkey and Squash Pasta
Thursday -Lentil Soup, Sweet Potato Wedges, Broccoli
Friday - GF Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Steamed Cauliflower

This week we're focusing on Quick Meals. This is my specialty because I'm usually tired when I come home from work but I really try to put a healthy meal on the table every night. There are a few Pinterest Pages to check out. I have several of my fast weeknight meal recipes included on this pinterest board.

Gluten-Free Dinners on Pinterest

Also if you haven't discovered Lynn's Kitchen Adventures and her amazing gluten-free pinterest boards, please check it out. She really must spend a lot of time on her boards. My Spinach Quesadillas recipe was posted on her Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas board.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures - Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas

About This Week's Menu
This week is all about quick and easy. The first day of school for us is tomorrow and so the past week has been busy getting our kindergartener ready and excited for school! I tried to make this week easy with a lot of quick favorites. Now is not the time to tackle new recipes. Luckily I have a lot of quick recipes on hand that I can use for times like these. On Sunday we're having Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas. This is my most pinned and visited page so it much strike a chord with people. Stir fry's are always good for quick and easy. One of my favorite vegetables to use in stir fry is baby bok choy and we're using that in Monday night's meal. Tuesday is Pulled Pork in the slow cooker. Although it is a slow using the Crock Pot is always easy and a great solution for busy work weeks. Wednesday we're having Turkey and Squash Pasta. I think the winning ingredient in this recipe is the fennel so definitely try to get that if you're going to try this recipe. Thursday we're having Lentil Soup which is definitely the fasted bean soup to make. On Friday we're going to use some of the leftover pulled-pork for sandwiches and endive wraps.

Be sure to check out the Gluten-free menu swap this week at Celiac Family.

Gluten-Free Snacks

gluten-free snack ideas
This week's gluten-free menu:

Sunday - Turkey Chili,Corn Muffins, Broccoli
Monday - Pork Souvlaki with Yogurt Sauce, Greek Salad, Rice
Tuesday - Baked Salmon, Green Salad, Crispy Corn Tortillas
Wednesday - Almond Chicken Pesto
Thursday - Hamburgers, Sweet Potato Wedges, Broccoli
Friday - Chili Nachos

About This Week's Menu
I'm to start the week by making a big pot of turkey chili. I went a little over board last week with how much meat I purchased so I froze some of it and I'll be using it this week. I have a lot of leftover turkey that I'm going to use for Turkey Chili. After I make some of the turkey I'm going to freeze some of it to use on Friday. On Tuesday we're having Pork Souvlaki which sounds hard but looks pretty easy to make. It's just pork marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano and then grilled. I have a few pieces of pork left from last week so I'll use it this way and serve it with a Greek Salad. Salmon is always really easy and fast so I'll make that on Wednesday. I'll need to buy a bit more chicken but I have a bottle of gluten-free pesto that I found at Aldi's, and since my basil is looking a little frazzled, it will work out well and it will make the preparation easier. I also found some organic ground beef at Aldi's. Yay! I scoop up those quality products whenever I see them there. We're going to make some Hamburgers with the ground beef on Thursday. Friday will be a relaxed night with Chili Nachos.

This Week's Theme
This month the themes for The Gluten-Free Menu Swap all have to do with getting ready for school. This week the theme is after school snacks. Some healthy school snacks can be Ants on a Log, Hummus and Carrots, Frozen Fruit, Apples and Hard Cheese, Yogurt, Granola, Popcorn, or Fruit and Nuts Bars like Kind Bars or Laurabars.

Here is a gallery slideshow showing some Heathful Gluten-Free Snacks:
6 Healthful Gluten-Free Snack Ideas

It's a great idea to think about it ahead of time because now I've noticed that my son has his own ideas of what to eat and a lot of those ideas are items that include a lot of sugar. Hopefully we can get into some healthy habits.

For more ideas of gluten-free snacks and gluten-free menu planning check out the round up at Celiac Family or for other menu planning ideas check out OrgJunkie (not all gluten-free).

Gluten-Free Lunches

This week's gluten-free menu:

Sunday - Pork Chops , Broccoli, Potatoes
Monday - Simple Weeknight Chicken, Spinach, Rice
Tuesday - Beef Stew , Green Salad, Crispy Corn Tortillas
Wednesday - Pork Stir Fry
Thursday - Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Wedges, Broccoli
Friday - Chicken Nuggets , Zucchini, Home Fries

About This Week's Menu
Last week the Jambalaya in the crock pot worked well, so I'm going to use the crock pot again this week. This time I'm going to use it for the Beef Stew. It's always a great feeling to come home and realize that you already took care of the cooking for the night! The rest of the week consists of more meat than usual. Lots of protein has been requested this week.

Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas
This week the topic for the Gluten-Free Menu Swap is Gluten-Free Lunches. We cook enough around our house that there are usually a lot of good leftovers that we heat up for lunch. That might be difficult at most schools though. Sandwiches can always be made with gluten-free bread, however in my experience, gluten-free bread gets old and so to keep it interesting gluten-free rice wraps can be used. You can always make your wrap interesting by making a theme like a Greek Wrap or a Hummus Wrap with your favorite meats and vegetables. Here are a couple of wraps that I've tried :

California Wrap
Hummus and Veggie Wrap

If you are really set on good sandwich bread you can always make your own fresh sandwich bread. Gluten-free sandwich bread is really yummy when it's super fresh. My friend has a bread machine with a gluten-free option! She just used Pamela's bread mix and clicks the gluten-free button. Pretty cool! This one has a gluten-free setting and I think this is the one she has :

My experiences with gluten-free bread are just trying different recipes and baking them in the oven but her solution sounds easier! I kind of gave up on making my own bread once I compared it to the bread that Udi's and Rudi's was making but I should try again. It's always nice to have variety and homemade breads can have whatever spices and flavors you want.

For more ideas heck out The Gluten-Free Menu Swap hosted at Celiac Family or check out The Monday Menu Swap at OrgJunkie (not all gluten-free).

Quick Breakfast Ideas Week

This week's gluten-free menu:

Sunday - Sirloin Steak , Asparagus, Rice
Monday - Jambalaya
Tuesday - Lentil Soup, Green Salad, Crispy Corn Tortillas
Wednesday - Sausage, Sauerkraut, Boiled Potatoes
Thursday - Pecan Crusted Catfish , Broccoli
Friday - Tacos

This August the themes for The Gluten Free Menu Swap are all centered around gluten-free ideas for going back to school. This couldn't be a better fit for us, because our son is starting kindergarten in just a few weeks! I have also recently started a new job so gosh - I really need to be organized! This week the theme is quick breakfast ideas. Some of our favorite gluten-free breakfasts are :

Gluten-freeda Oatmeal Packs
Scrambled Eggs
Gluten-Free Chex Cereals
Nature's Path Mesa Sunrise Cereal
Yogurt and GF Granola
Bob's Redmill Quick Cooking Oatmeal
GF English Muffins

Here are some of the mentioned products found on Amazon :

Also muffins can be such a treat during the week and are very fast if they are made ahead of time. I love banana muffins and always seem to have unused ripe bananas at the end of the week. I also save bananas that I haven't used at the end of the week in the freezer. They're really useful for banana muffins or smoothies.

About This Week's Menu
I've tried to keep this week's menu easy. I'm going to cook the jambalaya in the crock pot by cooking the meat and vegetables during the day and just making the rice when I get home. I'm also going to try to prep the vegetables for the lentil soup ahead of time so I can just throw everything in the pot when I get home without having to worry about chopping. The rest of the week seems pretty easy. I'm just going to broil the sausage which only takes minutes, fish always cooks quickly, and tacos are a very easy meal. We had a very busy week last week so we'll be glad to have some easy meals and hopefully a more relaxed week! Have a good one!

Summer Squash

This week's gluten-free menu:

Sunday - Lasagna , Green Beans, Green Salad
Monday - Chicken Fried Rice
Tuesday -Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Sauce, Tomatoes and Cucumbers, Rice
Wednesday - Baked Salmon , Rice Pilaf, Sauteed Squash
Thursday - Turkey and Squash Pasta
Friday - Baked Chicken Taquitos, Quacamole

What to say about summer squash? First of all, what is summer squash? Summer squash are types of squashes that are harvested when they are young and the rind is still tender and edible. Zucchini and yellow squash are among these squashes. Okay, now that I understand what summer squash is, I can say that I do cook with them!

Two dishes I cook with squash are Turkey and Squash Pasta and Minestrone Soup. I also like to saute them with a little olive oil and some basil or herb de Provence.

About This Week's Menu
This week's menu starts with Lasagna. This is a great meal to start off the week because it creates extra food for leftovers. Sometimes when I come home from work I'm really tired and a night off of cooking is welcome. Lasagna usually takes me over an hour to make so I'm going to make it on Sunday while there's more time allotted for cooking. Monday night an old stand-by, chicken fried rice, is on the menu. Tuesday is a family favorite - Lamb Burgers. I serve this with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and rice, and make a lot of yogurt sauce that we put on everything in the meal. Yum! The Yogurt Sauce definitely makes this meal. Wednesday we will have salmon and sauteed squash. Thursday we'll have Turkey and Squash Pasta. Friday we'll relax with some finger food with Baked Chicken Taquitos.

Check out the Gluten Free Menu Swap hosted by Celiac Family this week.
Or check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday (not all gluten-free).

Peaches Week

This week's gluten-free menu:

Sunday - Pork Tenderloin with Peaches, Green Beans, Red Potatoes
Monday - Chicken Salad, Summer Fruit Salad
Tuesday - Turkey Pasta
Wednesday - Almond Crusted Salmon , Rice Pilaf, Asparagus
Thursday - Chicken and Rice Soup, Apples and Cheese
Friday - Gluten-Free Pizza

Last week I went for a walk in our neighborhood and I saw a beautiful tree filled with fruit. I said to my husband excitedly, "Is that a peach tree!?". My neighbor who owned the tree heard me and said they would be ready in a few days and that I was welcome to come back and take some then. Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly where he lived, but it is evidence that peaches are in season!

Need some ideas for how to use your peaches? Here are some gluten-free recipes that I found online that looked good:

Peach Melba
Grilled Peaches
Peach Margaritas
Peach Smoothies

About This Week's Menu
This week's menu includes peaches in the Summer Fruit Salad and cooked with the Pork Tenderloin. I've tried to make the rest of the week fairly simple and light because it sure is getting hot in Texas. Enjoy your week and stay cool!

Be sure to check out this week's Gluten-Free Menu Swap hosted by Celiac Family.
Or check out Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie for other menu planning ideas ( not all gluten-free ).

Eating Out on Summer Vacation

Sunday - Chicken Pot Pie , Broccoli
Monday - Chicken and Mango Salad
Tuesday - Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Wedges, Green Beans
Wednesday - Baked Salmon , Rice Pilaf
Thursday - Swimming Angel Chicken
Friday - Tacos

We tend to eat out a lot when we're on summer vacation. Eating out in general can be tricky for someone on a gluten-free diet. It has, however, gotten so much easier than it used to be. The first thing you can ask is "Do you have a gluten-free menu?". This may not work everywhere but it's common enough now to give it a try. Many restaurants either have a gluten-free menu or mark gluten-free options on the menu.

There is a bit of skill involved in navigating a menu that does not cater to people on a gluten-free diet. One trick that seems to work well is to order a basic entree such as steak, grilled chicken, or fish with simple sides. Of course, always make sure to ask if any sauces are used and ask about soy sauce in particular. Also if you think that bread may be served with your meal ask for them to leave it off or if someone else in your party wants it make sure that they serve it on the side and don't put it on top of the meal.

Mexican restaurants have a lot of gluten-free options. Most Mexican restaurants have a corn tortilla option for fajitas and tacos. Indian restaurants also have a lot of gluten-free dishes. Pretty much everything but the bread or naan is gluten-free. Greek and Mediterranean restaurants also have a lot of gluten-free entrees with rice being a big part of the diet. Sushi works well if you bring your own soy sauce. We've ordered our own gluten-free soy sauce packets in the past. They are inconspicuous and easy to put in a purse or pocket before heading out to sushi. Make sure to avoid imitation crab that is used sometimes in the rolls though as it contains wheat.

You can buy the soy sauce packets online. Here are the links :

For more ideas on the topic Eating out on Summer Vacation check out the round up at the Gluten-Free Menu Swap hosted by Celiac Family this week.
Or Check out the Monday Menu Planning round up at OrgJunkie ( not all gluten-free ).

Grilling Week

This week's gluten-free week :

Sunday - Hamburgers , Corn, Green Salad
Monday - Lentil Shepard's Pie, Steamed Asparagus
Tuesday - Chicken Mango Salad , Crispy Corn Tortillas
Wednesday - Hobo Packs
Thursday - Fish Tacos, Black Beans, and Rice
Friday - Chicken Kebabs , Rice

The weather has warmed up and people are out in their backyards grilling! There are so many wonderful ways to cook up a meal on the grill. One of my favorite grilling books is License to Grill. The recipes are so delicious. The results are amazing. It's not a gluten-free cookbook, but it's easy enough to make modifications, like using gluten-free barbecue sauce. Barbecue sauce is one of those products that is not always gluten-free. It often has modified food starch in its ingredients which is made out of either corn or wheat and often doesn't clarify on the label. Stubbs Barbecue Sauce and Sweet Baby Rays are among those that are actually labelled gluten-free. Another gluten-free grilling issue that could come up is using a communal grill. If you are gluten intolerant and using a communal grill at a park or at an apartment or condominium complex this could pose a problem. People often cook their bread directly on the grill. One way to solve this problem is by cooking hobo packs. You make hobo packs by putting meat, potatoes and vegetables in individual aluminum foil pouches and throwing them on the grill. We have also used a grilling wok before. This would also solve the problem of grilling on a communal grill and is also just something different to try.

About This week's Menu
Sunday is a grilling night. Hamburgers, Corn and Salad are on the menu. Monday is a meatless dinner, but it's hearty and satisfying : Lentil Shepard's Pie. Tuesday we're having Chicken Mango Salad. I'll serve this with crispy corn tortillas. Wednesday we're having Hobo Packs on the grill. Thursday is Fish Taco night. Friday night's meal is Chicken Kebabs. These can also be cooked on the grill.

This week the Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted at Celiac Family. Also check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie for more menu ideas ( not all gluten-free ).

Be sure to come back next week when The Gluten Free Menu Swap will be hosted here at GlutenFreeWeek with Picnics as the theme.

What's the Difference Between Celiac Disease and Ileitis, Colitis, Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

As the spouse of someone who was diagnosed with celiac disease more than 35 years ago, I will admit that becoming more educated about the subject is a continuing process. This educational process has, at times, caused confusion for me.

One area that has caused confusion is understanding the difference between celiac disease and other diseases and conditions that also affect the gastrointestinal tract. Are these diseases and conditions similar to celiac disease, and are they related? These other diseases and conditions are: ileitis, colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

To learn more about these, I searched for the websites of any national groups, organizations, or foundations for these diseases. As mentioned in a previous blog, I am not a medical practitioner of any kind, so if you have questions or need specific information on any of these diseases and conditions, please consult your physician.

As you already know, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by an intolerance to the gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye. I’m assuming you are also aware of and have already visited the website for the Celiac Disease Foundation. If not, you should. It contains a wealth of information about living with celiac disease.

As it turns out, there is also a national foundation for both Crohn’s disease and colitis called the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). There is also a wealth of information on this site, but I’m only including the information that helped me better understand these diseases and clear up any confusion on my part. I highly recommend you go to the site and read all the information provided.

About Crohn’s disease, it says: “Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract... It is important to know that Crohn’s disease is not the same thing as ulcerative colitis, another type of IBD. The symptoms of these two illnesses are quite similar, but the areas affected in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) are different. Crohn’s most commonly affects the end of the small bowel (the ileum) and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus...Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon, also called the large intestine.”
About colitis, also known as ulcerative colitis, it says: “Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine, also known as the colon, in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores, or ulcers.”

In addition, the CCFA site says: “While both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are types of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), they should not be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the colon. IBS is not characterized by intestinal inflammation.”

I then decided to search for the term “’irritable bowel syndrome” on Google. I found no national foundation or website, but there was some interesting information on a National Institutes of Health website called National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House. It helped clarify several misconceptions I had. It says: ”Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, meaning symptoms are caused by changes in how the GI tract works. People with a functional GI disorder have frequent symptoms; however, the GI tract does not become damaged. IBS is a group of symptoms that occur together, not a disease. In the past, IBS was called colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, nervous colon, and spastic bowel. The name was changed to reflect the understanding that the disorder has both physical and mental causes and is not a product of a person’s imagination.”

Further, since I didn’t see any information on the CCFA site about ileitis, I also searched for that term on Google. I couldn’t find a national foundation or website specifically for ileitis, but did learn that ileitis refers to inflammation of the ileum, or small intestine, as described on the CCFA site, and can be caused by Crohn’s Disease affecting the ileum. Another National Institutes of Health website says there can also be ileitis not caused by Crohn’s disease but by a variety of other diseases. Please refer to this website for information on those types of ileitis.

By now you may be asking what any of this has to do with celiac disease, or why I was confused in the first place. Since reading more information about ileitis, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome, I have learned that:

- Except for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the other diseases and conditions I was wondering about all involve inflammation in the GI tract, including celiac disease.

- IBS should not be confused with irritable bowel disease (IBD). The two are different. IBS involves muscle contraction while IBD involves inflammation.

- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both IBDs. Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere along the GI tract from the mouth to the anus, while ulcerative colitis only affects the colon (large intestine).

- Ileitis is a type of Crohn’s disease that usually affects the ileum, which is the end of the small intestine, and also the beginning of the colon; however, there are also other forms of ileitis caused by other diseases.

- Several symptoms are common to celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis: abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue.

- Celiac disease is not classified as an IBD or IBS.

- Celiac disease is caused only by an intolerance to gluten. An intolerance to gluten is not the cause of Crohn’s disease (and ileitis), ulcerative colitis, or IBS.

I hope this will be helpful to you as well in your continuing education on celiac disease.

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