Hungry, Broke and Gluten Free

the quest of one poor student for food and health

What’s for dinner?

Just because I’ve had to re-adjust my eating (again) does not mean that I haven’t been experimenting. I plan to post most of these up at some point anyway, so this may become more of a list for myself.

Things I have experimented with:

  • Quinoa Porridge: I tried making this at home a few months ago, using quinoa flakes and making as if it were ordinary porridge. It was disgusting. It tasted so… savoury. A few weeks ago I made a batch of quinoa, just with water, and let it cool before stirring in some coconut milk. I stuck it in the fridge overnight and the next morning I had delicious porridge. Yummy!
  • Breakfast cookies: I tried. They were eh in taste, but great in terms of keeping me full. I doubt I’ll ever make them again because I struggled to eat anything earlier than 3pm in the afternoon when I had one for breakfast.
  • Roast Chicken: not really an experiment per se, but just something I made that I hadn’t done before.
  • Nomato sauce: There was a while where I wasn’t eating tomatoes. I’m still not eating them on a regular basis, but I’m open to eating them at some point. Nomato sauce is basically beetroot, carrots and some other things and apparently is supposed to taste just like tomatoes. Maybe I made it wrong, but it certainly did not.
  • Garlic Fries: These were delicious. I wish I could have them again! Yummo!
  • Polenta fries: Always a favourite! Yummy!
  • Chicken stock: I made chicken stock when I did the roast. It was okay, but I ended up with so much and then when I reduced it down, it just looked funny. I ended up chucking it out, but next time I will be freezing it in 1 cup portions. And yes, there iwll be a next time.

Things I want to make:

  • Bread: I know being yeast free complicates this, but I still want to do it.
  • Use a few flours in one recipe: not really a recipe, but more something i want to do in cooking. I’ve now got a few flours in my cupboard (Coconut, Besan (chickpea), Aramanth) in addition to the store varieties, so I think it’s time to try my hand at cooking properly. Also most blogs with gluten free recipes use a few flours in each recipe. I want to get to know flours and understand them. IS that creepy? I hope so.
  • Tortillas: I am yet to find commercially available tortillas and am stuck with wraps. The wraps I have found aren’t suitable for tortillas anyway. I know that there are corn ones, but the corn ones I have found in Australia have wheat flour and I refuse to buy from overseas. I sort of tried on the weekend, but gave up when I realised I would have to roll it out on the bench and didn’t feel like cleaning the bench.
  • Something with puff pastry: I’ve seen GF puff pastry at the shops. This makes it almost idiot proof. Theoretically at least.
  • Cookies: It’s been a really long time since I’ve had a good cookie. I used to be the cookie queen. Let’s have a go again! Please. Thank you.

If only I had started baking and cooking more adventurously before I got saddled with extra food issues, I’d probably be more comfortable now with substitutions. For instance, I know in a particular cookie recipe that is gluten free, I need 1 whole egg, plus an  extra yolk. Well I can technically have egg yolk… do I use an egg replacer for both? Do I make a substitution for brown sugar with stevia?

Anyway, these are things I will slowly learn. In the meantime, I’ve got dinner to consider.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

Yes, another post with another ‘excuse’. Since I wrote my last post, I’ve had a few food challenges. I started by going on a low-reactive diet to try and eliminate what could be causing some symptoms I was having. This meant no sugar, no salicilates, no caffeine and much more. It was really restrictive. From this, I decided I would go sugar-free  and felt amazing. I also discovered I was having slight reactions to tomatoes, so I cut them out (sadly).

While it was sad to farewell some old favourites, I introduced some new amazing foods. I discovered coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature and is great for pretty much everything. I discovered chia seeds, which are delicious and full of protein. I also re-discovered my love of nuts.

Nuts became a huge part of my diet over the past month or so. My breakfast is an almond granola. My snacks are almonds and walnuts. If I have milk, it’s almond milk and I have almond, brazil and cashew nut butter on bread. You can imagine my surprise when I got my blood test results back and found I have a high intolerance to almonds. Yup, that’s right! No more almonds for me!

Almonds aren’t the only thing I am saying goodbye to. My strongest reaction on the test was to egg whites, so I have bought an egg replacement and will no longer be using eggs.  Kidney beans join almonds on the second rung, although I rarely eat them.  Cows milk is also up there, although I have essentially been free of cows milk for years. These all are things that I have to entirely eliminate for 3-6 months and may (but most likely will not) be able to tolerate them in moderation later on.

The other major food to come up out of the others is soya beans. Soy is in pretty much everything! As a gluten free person, I probably see it in more of my foods than others. This will be a challenge, but I’m ready to jump in. For almonds and the other things I mentioned, I am immediately cutting them out and getting rid of the foods that contain them. Soy is something that I’m going to try to cut major sources (soy sauce etc) out immediately, but will not go throwing out something that has traces of it out immediately. I’ve got many foods I’ve just bought or am halfway through bottles of and do not want to be wasteful. After all, I’m broke!

Other things that reacted (these were all mild) included garlic (ah I don’t know how to live without garlic!), sheep’s milk, wheat, duram wheat and yeast. While only a ‘mild’ reaction, I’m glad to have something that actually says I need to avoid wheat. While it doesn’t say to stay away from gluten (and I know I have a problem with gluten), it is good to be reassured by a medical test. The test did check other gluten-containing grains (well rye and barley) but did not check gluten itself. I’m not going to re-introduce gluten solely based on that.

Yeast is a little disappointing as I have been getting psyched up to make my first gluten free bread. Without yeast, I’m stuck with trying to make soda bread and other flat sorts. I currently buy a type of bread that contains no yeast every three months or so and have a slice on rare occasions, but it is very expensive so I was wanting to cut costs by baking my own. The good news is that I have been told I can have it every 3-4 days, with no need to completely eliminate for 3-6 months. I’m contemplating having a few tries at making a great gluten free bread and freezing the results so I can space it out enough. The thing is, bread isn’t a huge part of my life, but it would be lovely to try a gluten free bread that does not require toasting first.

With all the restrictions, I have discovered spices. Everything I make is now so flavourful and delicious! The problem is that I never keep track of what spices I use, or the ratios with which I use them. It would be great to replicate things I make but alas, it appears that it shall not be my fate!

At home…

While I intended to start posting recipes and photos immediately, the creation  of this blog came during my end-of-semester exams so I had to hold off from procrasti-baking. Of course, now that I am finished, I have returned home and am able to cook in my parent’s kitchen.Of course, the premise of this blog is that I’m Hungry, Broke and Gluten-Free… and while these things are still true while away from my home, the broke factor becomes irrelevant.

At home, it doesn’t matter that my bank account is empty because I can do groceries with someone else (HELLO BRAND NAMES)! At home, it doesn’t matter if I cook 6 serves, because there are 4 of us eating! At home I try not to be creative with what I cook because I want it to be edible and taste pretty good. At home, I’m a different cook.

It is for these reasons that I’m holding off from beginning my cooking adventure until I return to my other home. I have, however, been thinking long and hard about what I will be making. I made a delicious Italian Hot Chocolate the other day and, had I had my camera, would have started with that! I made it with coconut milk as I had nothing else with me, so it was incredibly bad for me but super yummy!

 

here i am

After living on campus for the first 3 years of my university education, I have now moved out and need to cook for myself. This is a challenge in itself as I have lived away from home from the age of 15, only ever cooking when I wanted sweet treats to take back to school. Of course, I made the odd meal here and there, mainly tacos or other simple dishes that are generally reserved for once in a while. Until now, where I find myself needing to cook 3 meals a day,  7 days a week.

On top of that, I’m gluten-free. I’m not going to go into the reasons here, but I changed to a gluten-free diet at the urging of doctors around a year and a half ago. It’s a big adjustment, but I swear I still feel better every day. I’m not 100% sure that the food I was being given when I lived on campus was free of the evil gluten, but I know everything I cook myself is safe to eat. This recent change means many of the recipes I grew up cooking are unsafe for me to continue to eat, so I need to find new ways to get reminisce through food.

Like most full-time students, I’m incredibly broke. I’ve had a number of weeks in the past few months where I have had to live off less than $10, most of which I’ve had to use for parking! I’m actually not sure how I have managed to make it through and can only attribute it to having a well-stocked pantry. Living gluten-free can be really expensive, so I try to avoid bread and pasta where I can because I can’t afford the cost anymore.

For most of the time I have been living in the wide world, I’ve gotten by with lots of leftovers, cooking more than I need and eating small portions, freezing as much as humanly possible. There has also been a great deal of ‘winging-it’. This is a great way to live, but it is difficult when you have limited space which must be shared with others. Of course, it is usually cheaper to cook larger portions.

I’ve made a commitment to save as much money as I can without making sacrifices. I want to be able to feel okay about going out for dinner with my friends and family. I don’t want to hope that I will win the lotto or have to borrow money just to eat a little food. One of the lessons I have learnt is that planning is the key to eating well without breaking the bank.

So here I am. I’m hoping that this blog helps me to plan out my meals and save money. I am hoping that it also shows me where I’m spending too much and that I can re-evaluate.

While this blog is primarily for me, I hope that maybe one day it will help someone else. Maybe you?