Organic roasted chicken recipe

Friday, April 23, 2010

I give full credit for this recipe to my pals at - where I go whenever I need a good recipe. I really like the site because it not only gives you a recipe, it gives you a rating (out of five stars) and all kinds of comments from folks who changed the temperature, tweaked this, or added that. It's great to look through how everyone did with it, and pick what you want to change.

Here's a pic of my latest chicken and veg:

So here's how it's done:
First thing's first- get yourself a nice little organic chicken. This one was about $17 and ended up feeding four adults and two kids. Not bad, if I do say so myself!!


2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4 pound) whole chicken
5 cloves garlic, crushed


In a bowl, mix the salt, sugar (I used coconut sugar), cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Rub the chicken with the mixture. Cover chicken, and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. You might be best to get out a calculator and make this rub times a zillion because you'll likely want to do this again and again and it will save you time later. I don't always leave it 24hrs either. Whatever you can manage- even if it's only an hour or two- will be great.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).

Stuff the chicken cavity with the garlic. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a rack* in a roasting pan. Put about 1 1/2 to 2cups water in the bottom.

Roast 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C), and continue roasting 15 minutes. Baste chicken with pan drippings, reduce heat to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C), and continue roasting 30 minutes, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Let stand 20 minutes before serving.
You will also notice that I made this a one-pot meal: *I peel big carrots and use them to make a "rack" on which to suspend the chicken. Then I cover the bottom with chopped potatoes and brussel sprouts. If you don't like brussel sprouts, you WILL once you taste them bathed in the chicken juice and the rub. YUM. So put the veg in the pan, add a cup or two of water (it'll evaporate) and then splash some oil over the veggies. Don't forget to baste the veg when you baste the bird.
This recipe is awesome and the bird is SO MOIST- cooking a chicken at 350 degrees only dries it out. You've got to cook it high and fast. Brilliant.

Ready to bake gluten-free foods? Get your lab coat.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Before you start baking "gluten free", you use one flour- wheat flour. Maybe you spice it up and have "whole wheat" flour also. Well, when you bake gluten free, it is a virtual science experiment each time. In the place of one ingredient "wheat flour", there could be any myriad of flours, starches, and of course, a binder like xanthan gum, guar gum, chia seeds, etc.

It is for that reason that as I make my way through countless recipes for bread, muffins, etc., I have trashed many an attempt. See, as I cook, I get to the stage that Mr. Pick it Up calls "throwing everything into the pot". I cook with an outline, but at the end, I start launching countless spices, veggies, etc into the pot and watch 'er fly. But, unfortunately, you can't do that when you're cooking gluten free. Flours and starches can be roughly interchanged based on their weights, but proportions must be very closely monitored or you will end up with something that doesn't cook through (like oatmeal inside and no amount of baking can ever fix it) something akin to golf balls (hard, dry) or something that doesn't rise. I wish I could give you more details on what you can interchange, but I just don't know it myself yet.

So every time I make something, I'm a step closer to become a gluten-free scientist- able to swap ingredients out as necessary (or when I run out!). Meanwhile, here's my advice to anyone who hasn't been baking gluten free for long: follow a recipe- exactly. Use a knife to level off your cups and tablespoons for an exact result. No horsing around, no ad libbing. Just follow it...and see if your hypothesis will translate into a yummy result.

In an attempt to organize myself, I have (in a very proud, Pick-it-Up moment) organized about half of my flours- ones that I use often. Have a look at what one cannister of wheat flour turns into:

Here you see: Sweet white sorghum flour, almond flour, potato starch, xantham gum, baking powder, all-purpose flour, baking powder, brown rice flour, garfava flour, flax seeds, chickpea flour, teff flour, amaranth flour, arrowroot flour, etc. etc. etc.
Yup. Wheat is pretty versatile, huh? :)


Just like mom used to make- Gluten free crêpes!

Friday, April 16, 2010

You know I'm not gonna lie to ya...if I try a recipe and it kinda stinks, I'm not going to tout it on here. But let me tell you- I have desperately missed crepes since I stopped eating gluten, and I don't have to miss them anymore. Crepe lovers—listen up!!

To begin my crepe investigation, I started with two recipes- one using millet flour and one using sorghum. I don't know what's up with millet, but those suckers were BITTER and awful. Don't try that at home kiddies. I'm actually wondering if millet should be soaked first like quinoa to remove a bitter outer coat...but when it's ground into flour, perhaps that step is skipped. I digress.

On to the pièce de résistance...

Sorghum crêpes (gluten-free, with casein-free and egg-free options)
1 1/2 cups "Sweet" white sorghum flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
2 1/2 cups milk of your choice (I used 2c soy milk, 1/2 c vanilla rice milk)
6 eggs*
4 TB butter (I used coconut oil for a casein-free option)
1 1/2 tsp salt

*(for each egg, you can substitute 1 TB ground flax meal with 3 TB warm water- let it sit and get gloppy before adding to the recipe)

Mix all the ingredients (use a mixer or blender or some SERIOUS elbow grease to make sure it's well mixed). Cover and put it in the fridge for an hour.

Now comes the tricky part- finding just the right temp for the pan. You may burn a few before you find just the right temperature.

You need to put a puddle (my pan is big so I was using about 1/3 c of batter per crepe) of batter in the centre of the pan, then roll the pan, tipping it in circles until the batter has spread evenly to the edges of the pan. Flip when the bubbles have risen and it looks a bit dried out.

There is a technique to takes practice. Expect a few awful looking crepes to begin with. It also takes time, so I layer mine on a plate in the oven as I'm making them. You can expect to be standing there for quite a while...But wow, is it worth it!!!

A few options for the filling:
  • fresh fruit salad
  • sliced berries
  • turkey sausages
  • or for a dessert option, spread with my chocolate avocado icing and add banana slices.
You can also use these for savoury crêpes and fill them with maybe some kind of creamy chicken and mushroom concoction...mmm...that might be my next stop...


I'm drinking BEER!!!!! (a review of Bard's gluten-free beer)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So, I recently posted about two very dissappointing gluten-free beers I had tried: New Grist and La Messagère. Both SO not drinkable. Then a little angel (also known as "Brian from Bard's") told me that his beer was better. Sure. Yeah. I've heard that line before. I also have swamp land for sale in Florida to sell you...

Well, I stand (sit) here a changed woman. I am drinking beer. Okay, I'm going to be totally honest here. If I were me and it was two years ago, and you asked me if I would start drinking Bard's regularly, I'd say no. It's really okay. It's like, the kind of beer that maybe a friend would have bought and I was happy to have one because I was at their house. Based on taste alone, I wouldn't have sought it out. THAT BEING SAID: when the alternatives are either the two other beers I've tried, that were completely undrinkable, or not drinking any beer at all, Bard's is like nectar of the Gods. It is SO GOOD, I can't even control myself...

Just wanted you to know. Oh, and how did I obtain said nectar? I'm sad to say, for my Canadian peeps that this seems in very short supply north of the border, but our friends at Bard's are apparently working on that. My 'rents went to NY for a visit and my step 'rent bought me an ENTIRE case. Yup...spent all of his cross-border-booze allowance on me- bless his buttons.  I am trying to savour them, but the thought of being quasi normal (in a beer-swilling kinda way) has me pretty pumped so I might have to send them back for another visit soon...


This has been a public service announcements for beer-swilling Celiacs everywhere.
Thank you.

Lookin' for feedback

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hey folks,
So, I'm honoured that you're here. I really am. I'm honoured that you'd take the time to visit, see what I think and even sometimes comment. I want to pay it back by tailoring content to what it is you'd like to see. Do you want more recipes? Want to see what's on the menu at Chez Dropsie? Want to hear more about my favourite foods? Want to see what's in the news and how it relates to what I'm doing? How about a nutrition question you had that I could research on your behalf?

Really, if there's something you'd like to see, I'll do my best to figure out how to compose a post to that effect. I want this to be a two-way street.

I posted a poll, to give me a rough idea of why you visit, but if you have any other ideas, let me know!
Thanks—for your time, for your thoughts and for your loyalty.
Really. It means a lot. :)

Update on gastroenterologist

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Got a second call from the gastroenterologist. For those of you who actually pay for your healthcare (my American visitors) it might seem strange (or not at all, I have no idea) that a doctor who does tests on you would not take five seconds to call you back. In my experience, most tell you that you will not hear from them unless there is a problem. Like, taking the 1 minute needed to leave a message and tell someone they're fine is just too much. But this guy called, left a message, then called again. Whether it was because he forgot that he'd already rung me or not, I'm thrilled at the outcome. I was sooo happy to talk to him.

Here's the gist of our conversation:
  • no he doesn't have the genetic test back- could be a month
  • my antibody test (IgA) looked normal, but no, he wouldn't know if it had been positive before I stopped eating gluten (he called that "the million dollar question")
  • yes, it is possible I have food intolerances, and lots of people with them feel much better on a gluten-free diet
  • I can try and eat wheat again, but I should do it gently in case it makes me sick, or I can wait till I have the genetic test back first
  • my iron is low AGAIN- ferretin level is 9, though I'm not anemic. When I started my course of shots last time, my ferretin level was 6 (and I wasn't anemic back then either).
So, really, until that genetic screen comes back, I won't know anything. Once he tells me conclusively that I cannot have Celiac simply because I don't have the genetic make-up, I will attempt to eat a small amount of wheat (maybe a cracker or something) and eat nothing else that I might react to for a few days ( no corn, no dairy, nothing I don't know I can handle) while I guage my reaction. I might just be fine...then I could drink beer. And that would be good. :)

Still in the dark.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Got a call from the gastroenterologist. He called me at home during the day (despite having left a message with my new work number) and he told me that it does not appear as though I have any signs of celiac disease. Of course I have questions: are you basing this only on the IgA test? Because I kind of expected that (haven't eaten gluten in about a year- except through crumbs or other contamination). Do you have the genetic panel back? If I don't have the gene, it's a pretty cut-and-dried case. My iron is low- AGAIN- despite being okay a year ago. What does that mean- supplements? Yuck. Iron makes my bad guts worse...more shots? Maybe. Who knows.

So all in all, super frustrated. Worst part? That's it. That's the one thing that conventional medicine seems to be willing to test for. Food allergies? They don't seem very interested in helping with that. Food intolerances? No help at all. What's a girl to do? Nothing apparently. So I'm litterally, after an entire year of avoiding gluten, back to where I was before. Do I have food allergies? Wheat? Corn? Dairy?  Is that's what's causing my symptoms? I guess there is only one way to find out, and it's the longest route ever- elimination diet. Go back to litterally eating nothing, then start reintroducing one thing at a time and guaging my reaction. I am SO frustrated, and so tired of not having someone who can stand up and say "Kirsten- this is what you can't eat. It makes you hurt. Don't eat it and you'll be fine."  Where is that person? Where is the test? Why is it that medicine has evolved to the point where it is, but no one can tell me why I have wicked pain, and "bad guts" weeks, or months even. When I came back from my sister's place, I was feeling so fantastic, it was ridiculous. But of course life at home is a little different, and certain things crept back into my diet that probably shouldn't have been there. But what are they? I don't want to do this. I don't want to go through this process of elimination. I am still, frankly, terrified to eat wheat. What if he's wrong? What if he gave me that diagnosis only on the basis of the IgA test, and I go ahead and slop down a couple of pieces of toast, and I die for the next week. Sigh.

Maybe I'm just destined to always be "that guy" with the stomach problems. On the up side, I haven't had any dairy except for cream in my coffee for almost two months and my acne (yes, in my 30s and still dealing with pimples) has virtually dissappeared. Yup. A few days ago I ate a piece of chocolate (milk chocolate which I never eat anymore) and for a few days I felt off. Maybe this whole year has been only because of dairy. No...I was still having problems even after I eliminated dairy... I am so SO tired of thinking about this. I want to be one of those people who eats anything. Someone who can go with the flow. Someone who won't be doubled over in pain after just "grabbing a bite" at any old restaurant. I'm tired of eating. I'm tired of eating and worrying about reacting. I'm tired of dealing with the fall-out of eating something my body doesn't like. Right now, there is no joy in food. Today, I don't ever want to eat again. I'm tired. Very very tired.

I've decided to go to the local organic market today. It is catharsis for my soul. I will squeeze and smell the freshness of the produce. I will marvel at the bright colours and hopefully be inspired to eat again. Wish me luck.

Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

There is not a single person I know who doesn't sometimes have cravings- usually it's a non-descript "I want something sweet" or "I want something salty". I find people tend to lean more to one rather than the other. Though I've had moments of craving a crunchy bag of chips, I almost always lean towards something sweet. My drug of choice? Chocolate.

Ever since I can remember, I always wanted something sweet after a meal. A little piece of chocolate to finish off the experience. A handful of chocolate After Eight...a square of Bakers' chocolate. Really it didn't matter which, what mattered was leaving the table with a sweet taste on my tongue (occasionally of course, that "little taste" turned into much more though...).

As I've talked about, last spring I decided to see a naturopath about my life-long digestive issues. I discussed those issues in a previous post. One of the things I had to stop, was eating processed and fake sugar. Now, sugar has many names: glucose, fructose, dextrose, lactose, and the fake ones like aspartame, malitol, sucralose, etc.  I don't think I need to go into detail on the dangers of "fake" sugars. This is food created in a lab by chemists. I do occasionally indulge in a sugar free cola, because it's really the only way I will drink a pop, however I fully recognize that this is NOT good for me.  It is a treat. Period. And it is tempered by lots of good-for-me foods to try and make up for those indulgences. This all goes back to me not being perfect...I's a total surprise, right?

So, back to sugar in its various forms. If you look at the regular-calorie-having sugars, they all end in "ose". That's your key to figuring out where the sugar is in a food label. You may not see a single one high on the ingredient list, but if you see several of these lower down, the sum total may still mean a high sugar content in the recipe. Now, here's the thing about sugar: that sweetness that you put on your cereal, or in your cookie recipe, brings nothing with it. Keep in mind the same goes for brown sugar- it's just white sugar with molasses in it. Brown sugar is not "healthier". Period.  So the sugar in the recipe has been stripped of any goodness it once contained. Sanitized...bleached away... it is nothing but empty calories. So, when you eat something that comes with no nutrients, your body actually must reach into its nutrient stores, to find the nutrients it needs to process the sugar. So, in effect, by eating sugar you are now at a deficit, health-wise. It's not just that you didn't contribute to your health, you are actually at a deficit. Let's look at 24g of white sugar. There are over 100 calories in 24g of white sugar and in it you will find...drumroll please....NOTHING. Bupkiss. Zilch. Nada. No nutrients, no fiber, no protein, no nothing. Just straight sugar to cause a quick rush to the bloodstream, only to be squashed by insulin and then you feel the big CRASH... There is litterally nothing helpful in this stuff. So when you need the nutrients to produce stomach acids, etc., you must suck those out of your stores in order to break down and process your sugar-rich foods.

So if sugar is so bad for you how do you get that sweet craving satisfied? There are TONS of lovely, healthy options. Medjool dates are one of my favourites. Keep them in the fridge for an even bigger delight. They are like candy- chewy and sweet- and one date, with its 66 calories (for approx 24g) is full of natural sugars, but also brings fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium...

Honey is another option. Though it is similar in sugar content to refined sugar (in terms of grams) it also brings with it pollen, enzymes and micronutrients. I wouldn't advise drinking it by the boatload, but it appears to have a less severe effect on the body and on insulin levels than processed sugar.

Agave is a plant found in the desert, and the nectar is used as a sugar substitute, as is good old Canadian maple syrup. See, here's the thing: sometimes it doesn't even boil down to what you can read on a nutritional label. Sometimes, if you choose a more "natural" less processed option, Mother Nature might surprise you and tuck in a few extras. Check out this article for some information on the antioxidants found in maple syrup.

Coconut sap, or coconut sugar, is another low glycemic index sweetner. It's really mild, and actually looks like brown sugar (in the organic brand that I buy) and from the bits and pieces I can find on comparisons, it is the most nutritionally dense of all the sweeteners.  I use this in coffee, recipes, everything. It rocks.

So here are some options for when you get those sweet cravings. Try substituting a little of one of these in place of refined cane sugar. Remember that most of these are waaaayyy sweeter than cane sugar so you need a lot less. I typically half the sweeteners in my recipes and adjust as necessary.

Hope this gives you some ammo in the fight against nutritionless food. May you use this information to find treats that are both good for the palate and good for the soul.

G'night all!


Gluten-free dark chocolate cake (with gluten free, casein free icing)

Monday, April 5, 2010

For those of you longing for a moist, sweet and heavy dark chocolate cake, hold on to your hats.

For this cake, because there was just too much riding on it, I decided not to experiment and I went with a mix. I bought Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix a while ago, and had been "saving" it for a special occasion. Being Easter, I didn't want to miss out on the dessert fest, so I busted this bad boy out. Wow. It turned out GREAT. I made it according to the directions, including cutting out a circle of parchment paper for the bottom of the cake pans (which made it MUCH easier to release from the pans). It was light but dense and chocolatey at the same time.

Now...for the piece de résistance... the icing. I usually find icing just tastes like fat and sugar...because, well, that's what it is. So recently I had icing that was made using avocado instead. Now THAT is a dream come true!!! I am always looking for that which is both nutritious and delicious, and this is such a great way to add nutrition while still upping the delicious factor. After scanning various recipes, here's what I came up with for mine:

Divine dark chocolate avocado icing (gluten free, casein free)

2 ripe avocados
1/2c cocoa (organic if you've got it!)
1/2 c agave sweetener (you could totally adapt this and use honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar)
2 tsp lemon juice

Scoop out all the ingredients and mix with an electric mixer (or with some SERIOUS elbow grease). Then, scoop out bit by bit and using a spatula, you just press it over a wire mesh sieve and the last of the green bits in the icing are smushed away. :)

Note: This "icing" could totally be used as a quasi-chocolate fondue, or as a chocolate spread on bread (what a treat!!).

You'll also notice in this photo that I cut the top off of that tier of cake. I find it better for putting the cake together if I slice off any "risen" portion in the cake so I can lay the next tier flatly on top.

Once that's done- you ice the bottom tier, then put the top one on, then ice the top tier and the sides. I might also suggest that you could put a few other things between the layers if you're so inclined. Here are a few ideas:

  • chopped up, or mini chocolate chips

  • melted peanut butter drizzle

  • crushed candy canes

  • sliced strawberries

  • etc.
So, unfortunately I didn't get a final picture of how this looked once I'd drawn the bunny on it in white icing (hee) but here is the semi-final product:

I'd also like to point out the carnage in my kitchen, when Miss Dropsie has finished a "masterpiece"... This is why Mr. Pick It Up has a hard time with me being in the kitchen..."inventing".

Let me know how yours turns out!


What to expect at the Gastroenterologist

Saturday, April 3, 2010

As many of you know, after suspecting I had a gluten intolerance I stopped eating gluten-containing foods last spring. We're coming up on a year now since I had a slice of baguette, or a real beer. Sigh. I digress.  So I finally made an appointment and saw my family doctor in ...December...yeah, that's right. My family doctor was hesitant to do any testing on his own and instead referred me to a gastroenterologist. My appointment was finally made, and I would have to wait until March 24.

The magic day came (and believe me, this is apparently not a long waiting list in comparison to most- long live "free" healthcare) so I totally prepared myself. I jotted down a history, what I had done since childhood to reduce my stomach pain (a constant in my life) and described the feelings that had intensified in recent years, my severe iron deficiency, etc. He interrupted me and asked if I'd been tested for Celiac; I said "just hang on- I'm getting to that". So I described having seen the naturopath and thinking after my strict elimination diet (which, I've gotta tell you, I'm due for again) that I may also have a gluten intolerance. As soon as I told him I'd gone off gluten, he sighed. This was expected. Let me give you one piece of advice: no matter how much it hurts, have the blood test and biopsy before you stop eating gluten. So he told me there was not that much we could do, given that I'd stopped eating gluten, but I told him I thought I'd probably contaminated my food so many times, there should be some residual tTG, IgA antibodies left- hopefully they'll be high enough to indicate a problem. In addition, I asked him to perform the genetic test for Celiac- just so I could rule it out as a possibility. Not that I still couldn't have an intolerance, but at least I would know that there is likely something else causing me problems- like milk.

I also asked him if he could test me for food allergies to milk, corn, wheat...some of the things I think I've isolated as being reactive to. He said no. He said they don't do that....that maybe I could see an allergist, maybe I could get a skin prick test done...but it wouldn't help me figure out intolerances. I showed him the IgG antibody test I had done. He told me this was not of any value- that the presence of an IgG antibody, did not actually indicate a correlation to any food intolerances. I suspected he would say that. He said "people come in here all the time with stuff like that, and it's meaningless". Well no s*&t Sherlock- if you offer no alternative, when people think they're eating something that makes them sick, they'll look to other methods to discover if it really IS x, y or z that is making them react. What's a girl to do?

I suppose (as much as it pains me to admit it) the only true way to figure out food intolerances is slowly, steadily, one food at a time, in an elimination diet. I have pretty much eliminated corn from my diet but every now and again if I have nachos or just a handful of corn chips, I don't feel well the next day. Do I really need a blood test of some kind to tell me that I'm reacting to corn? Probably not. I went away and had three cheese omelettes in 24 hours. I felt like death for a week. I don't really know if it was the cheese, the eggs or both, but do I now know that I can't eat cheese omelettes? Clearly.

Anyways, I should get my results back soon, come to think of it. The next day though, I actually went and saw "the boy's" doctor to figure out if we need to do anything for him. His doctor asked me what my heritage is- I told him I was 1/2 Scandinavian. He smiled and said "and what do we know about Scandinavians"? Aside from us being tall, blonde and exquisite conversationalists? Dunno. He said 80% of Scandinavian adults are lactose intolerant. Which is kind of funny because apparently some of the countries in that region have the highest dairy use. Hmmm...  Anyways, he suggested that we do a generalized blood draw on the boy, as we had never done one, and he would check for some indicator of allergenic activity. If it was positive (or high) it would be worthwhile sending him to an allergist. But I was to wait until my own tests came back, because if I were positive for IgA or Celiac, I should actually do the IgA test as well on the boy. The boy was growing increasingly freaked out at the possibility of a blood draw. That won't be a fun day. But we will wait until I know first.

The plan for the boy involved the use of Lactaid pills for a week (but still no dairy) then the reintroduction of dairy with doses of Lactaid. He is hopeful this will stem the tide of stomach pain complaints from my poor little boy. I hope so too...  I also bought the adult version of the enzyme for myself, and have used it a few times when I've had something with dairy. Let's just say, so far I'm not too impressed.

Last night I ate a whack load of those mini eggs from Cadbury at a friend's place. I discovered (after shovelling them in my gob of course) that of course there is milk in them (I only eat dark chocolate which does not have dairy in it now and had forgotten) and that there is some element, though not printed on the package, that is apparently not safe for Celiacs. I don't know this to be 100% accurate, but I was experiencing some wicked gut cramps about an hour after leaving their house so it of course seemed a great time to do a wee Google search and check on the safety of the food I had ALREADY consumed en masse. D'oh.

Okay, that's enough for today! I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely long weekend. It's summer-like here and we're going on a bike ride today.

Keep reading those labels. :)

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