My New Gluten Free, Low Carb Comfort Food

On this now 6 year gluten free diet, I am always looking out for a “comfort food,” to replace those wonderful not gluten free comfort foods of yesteryear.

And this is easy, and low carb to boot.


One serving, one good size zucchini (and I’ve never been a zucchini fan–who knew?).

Garlic salt
Garlic powder
Dried oregano
1/3 cup baked potato (this is what gives it the big comfort food feel)
Oil (olive oil, canola oil, whatever you would like)
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella, shredded (optional, but very yummy)

Cut the ends off the zucchini, and cut it into 3 equal chunks. Stand the chucks on end and divide them into 6 wedges.  You’ve got a total of 18 wedges when all is said and cut and done (this takes about a minute).

Put the zucchini wedges into a plastic bag, sprinkle liberally with garlic powder, garlic salt and a little dried oregano.  Shake the bag so all the zucchini wedges are covered.  Then pour about 2-3 tablespoons of oil  (olive oil, canola oil, whatever you like) in the bag and shake until all the wedges are covered (this takes maybe 2 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and dump/place the coated zucchini and spread the wedges out.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.   (You can do this earlier in the day and set the cooked zucchini aside if you would like.)

Baked Zuchhini just out of the oven
Baked Zuchhini just out of the oven

Cut the cooked zucchini into large chunks.

Bake a potato (the rest of the potato can be used with the rest of your meal). Take 1/3 cup of baked potato, add at least 1 table spoon of butter/margarine and garlic salt. Mash until the mixer until it looks like a thick sauce.  Cover the chunks of zucchini with the mashed potato, garlic salt and butter mixture (this is what gives it the comfort food feel!!).  Top the zucchini and potato mixer with at least a tablespoon of butter/margarine.  Put in the microwave for 1 minute to heat.

Toss with Parmesan cheese, more garlic salt, and a little shredded mozzarella (if it’s handy).

After six years on this gluten free diet, this is one of the best guaranteed gluten free comfort foods that I’ve come up with!

P.S. I’ve been gluten free (no cheating) since September 2009.

Why I Personally Like my Plastic Bags, and NO, I’m Not in the Pocket of the Plastic Bag Industry

Gluten Free
Gluten Free

I just vowed I wouldn’t go there, put people ask me, “Why in the world do you want to have plastic bags so much?” And for anyone thinking or saying that I must be in the pocket of the plastic bag industry (because that seems to be the immediate reaction if you happen to like plastic bags), the answer is “No,” and believe me, I have opinions on stuff, people have accused me of a lot worse (see 7+ years of earlier posts).

I have something called celiac disease.  It has been ruled as a disability under the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA).  Who knew? not me that it was ruled a disability, until all this research on plastic bags last week. See the link on ADA and celiac here.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has come out with a ruling saying something cannot be labeled gluten free, unless it is really and truly is gluten free, which they have said is 20 parts per million (20 ppm), in other words–a microscopic amount. You can read all about it here, if you feel like it. (That one I knew about, the FDA ruling thing. The White House actually sent me an email telling me about the new gluten food labeling by the FDA, it made my day, week, month, year.)

When I was diagnosed (and all of that info is on the blog if you want to go look for it) back in 2009, no one knew hardly nada about what celiac was. Now, gluten free, here we come, which as it plays out, is fantastic for people with celiac. I was told is that microscopic amounts would make me sick (as in eventually kills you), so scrub out your kitchen, throw out and replace all sorts of stuff.  I thought they were being hysterical nut cases. It turns out “they” were right. When I got rid of anything that might have microscopic amounts of gluten, I started to get better.

The weird thing about celiac is that if effects everyone differently, it has all kinds of different symptoms, and basically they still know mostly nada.  But I am one of those pesky folks where only digesting microscopic amounts takes me 6 weeks to recover. And am I paranoid about getting “glutened?” you bet I am.

Which brings me to plastic bags at the grocery store. When they open one of those plastic bags, I know that no gluten has ever, never ever, been in there.  I am safe, safe, safe. No need to wonder, did I bring home gluten stuff in this bag?  Do I throw this bag away? Do I throw them all away to be safe?  No, every plastic bag is a safe bag for moi.  And it brings peace of mind and serenity to the ever not wonderful challenge of going to the grocery store as a celiac (where gluten is everywhere and not in everything anymore, but still in tons of stuff). And I take those plastic bags that make me feel safe and never glutened, and recycle them back at the grocery store.

Whether people understand my fondness for plastic bags having celiac disease, is up to them. But for me, it is huge.

A Good Gluten Free Pasta-Barilla

Gluten Free Spaghetti
Gluten Free Spaghetti

Like gluten free bread (even Udi’s), gluten free pasta makes me cry. BUT the main brands have been hard at work and Barilla has just put out a gluten free pasta.  It’s not quite like the real deal, but as close as I’ve experienced.  This is a very good thing for gluten free pasta lovers everywhere.  It’s just gone “prime time” at the beginning of the year, and it’s been in Market Basket in Newburyport for about the last 2 weeks. Eureka!!

Gluten Free Power Bar with Almond Meal

Really fast, unbelievably easy to make, gluten free power bar and variations.

1 1/2 T  sugar
1 T  water
1/4 t  vanilla
2 T  peanut butter
2 pinches of salt
Shake of cinnamon and nutmeg (or pumpkin spice),optional.

Microwaved in a bowl for 30 seconds until sugar and water and vanilla dissolve, stir mixture until blended.

1/3 Cup almond meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
3 T Mini Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Morsels

Stir in almond meal until a paste, while warm stir in mini chocolate morsels.
Form into bars on parchment paper and refrigerate until hard. Can be 3 small bars, 2 medium bars or 1 large bar.

Wrap bars in Saran Wrap and refrigerate (can also freeze).

All sorts of variations are possible. Use less almond meal and add chopped nuts, dried fruit, coconut.  Could also substitute peanut butter with almond butter or other nut butters.

Orange Almond Meal – Flour Cake/Bread (It’s Gluten Free)

This is a version of the orange cake that is floating around the World Wide Web. I’ve tweaked it so that it is easy and works for me and hopefully for you.

Orange almond meal cake/bread, gluten free

2 1/2 cups almond meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2  cup sugar
4 eggs
2 egg whites
zest from 2 oranges
zest from 1 lemon (optional but gives it zip)
Juice from the 2 oranges
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1t  baking powder
1/2 t  salt
1t  vanilla extract
1t  orange extract
1/8-1/4 t   cinnamon
1/8-1/4 t  pumpkin spice

I use an 3 qt oblong Pyrex baking pan. It works. Or use two 8 inch square pans. Line the pan or pans with parchment paper. (So easy, you can just lift the cake right out.)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix almond meal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin spice and set aside.

Zest the 2 oranges and 1 lemon. Cut up the 2 oranges into 4 parts each and squeeze the juice from the oranges (make sure to remove any seeds). Add vanilla extract and orange extract and set aside.

Beat the 2 egg whites and set aside (make sure the egg whites are stiff).

Beat the 4 eggs, add the sugar, beat again, add the oil, beat again. (Use a large bowl for this.)

Add the zest, extract and orange juice mixture, beat that in.

Add the dry ingredients, beat that as well.

Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Pour the batter into the lined baking pans or pans. Shake the pans slightly to make the batter even.

Bake the cake or cakes for about 30-35 minutes. Start checking your cake at about 25 minutes. You can test with a tooth pick, and make sure it comes out clean. Or I press down on the edge, if it bounces back, that’s good. (And then I press down on the middle to see if that bounces back as well.) The cake will be 3/4 of an inch to an inch thick.

Using the parchment paper, lift out the cake or cakes to cool. Cut into squares. I wrap each square in saran wrap and freeze them in a large freezer baggy. They taste even better after they have been frozen. (I think it’s because the freezing process softens the almond meal.)

The cake has a consistency of a very light corn bread. Sort of between cornbread and cake. People spread it with butter or margarine. Jelly, especially marmalade would be yummy too.

Mold Quandary or the Exploding (Gluten Free) Baked Potato

I walk into my house and I sniff – mold??  I may now be a spider slayer (see earlier entry), but I can be as neurotic (this is a New York City term) as Woodie Allen.

I go down into the basement. Sniff, sniff. Basement smell, but not the same smell.

The odd, apparently or hopefully, not mold smell comes and goes. Who knows.


(I’m going circular now….) Over the last 3 years and some months, since Black Friday, the Celiac, you must now go on a gluten-free diet from hell, friday, I have become a big fan of baked potatoes.  They are absolutely gluten free, plus they are wicked good for you, who knew.  Chock full of all sorts of amazing nutrients. 48% Vitamin C, 18% Iron, really. And let’s not forget both Potassium and Vitamin B6 at an amazing 46%, if you don’t believe me, read all about it here.

The amazing baked potato, good for breakfast, lunch and dinner in all sorts of concoctions, instead of awful gluten free bread, or full of gluten bread.

So for 3 years and how many months, every night, I bake at least 2 potatoes, and use them in all sorts of ways the next day.

(For you gluten-free folks out there in web-land, I am now visiting the Newburyport Blog for some reason, land – a potato baked at 350 degrees for an hour and a half (i.e. fairly slowly) and then cooled, can be used for all sorts of things, including potato salad, much better, and easier, than boiling.  An odd tip I’ve learned, who knew?)

Before baking a potato, it is necessary to pierce them or it with a fork or a sharp knife, lest they or it explode.  And over the 3 years plus how many months, I’ve watched the pierced potato parts leak and dribble onto my oven floor. Not being a super duper oven cleaner, I’ve never much cared.

But an “ah ha,” eureka moment.  The other day, an apparently un-pierced baking potato exploded, and that weird smell (see, I told you I’d get around to it), well, it was like that weird smell, the not the basement maybe, oh dear, mold smell, but  “the” odd smell, on steroids.

So, I am relieved.  Odd, but probably not terribly dangerous smell explained. A wet paper towel, or a lot of wet paper towels, scrubbed against the bottom of the oven, seems to alleviate the long sniff quandary. And I will now need to find something else innocuous, but perplexing enough to obsess about, to take the place of the great exploding baked potato whiff enigma.

Chocolate Chip Almond Meal-Flour Cookies (They are Gluten Free)

Because so many folks come to The Newburyport Blog looking for gluten free stuff.

Chocolate Chip Almond Meal-Flour Cookies

1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
Dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup oil, canola or grapeseed oil (each has slightly different effect, I use canola oil)
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 ½ teaspoons gluten free vanilla extract
¼  cup Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Mini Morsels (the real tiny ones)

1. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. Stir together sugar and water, add vanilla and then the oil and combine.
3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
4. Add the Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Mini Morsels.
5. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350° for 5-6 minutes.
7. Cool and serve (you can also freeze the cookies in a container, separating the layers of cookies with wax paper).
8. Makes around 27 cookies.

* If you use the larger Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels, you can mix in the ¼ cup chocolate chips with the cookie dough, or you can press the cookies flat on the cookie sheet first, and then add the chocolate chips on top, about 3-4 chips per cookie, and press them into the cookies. (They are great too!!)

(Adapted from Elana’s Pantry,, Elana Amsterdam, website and cookbook)

For more variations on almond meal-flour cookies please press here.

Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with mini chocolate chips
Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with larger chocolate chips
Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with larger chocolate chips

An Insanely Good Gluten Free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Snack

Toll House Chocolate Chips

When I first found out about the gluten free thing, I couldn’t figure out what in the world snack-wise was available, I was told to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter.  After about a year and a half of eating peanut butter by the spoonful, I never wanted to see a spoonful of peanut butter ever again!

One of the things that could happen with this gluten free thing is that good old lactose is out the window (and that includes chocolate, it’s a real “Oy Veh.”), but the lactose thing is supposedly suppose to eventually resolve itself. Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Semi Sweet Morsels, not edible 6 months ago for moi, but yesterday, no problemo!!  A super duper “Eureka!” moment.

Skippy Peanut Butter

And a spoonful of peanut butter covered with Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Semi Sweet Morsels, a snack worth going to heaven over.  Better than any Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  A lickety-split, quick snack that sticks to the ribs and is portable, a wonderful thing for the gluten free.

Gluten Free Brazilian Cheese Balls-Bread with Tapioca Flour (also Lactose Free)

Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour (press image to enlarge)
Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Flour (press image to enlarge)

I’ve been trying to figure out this recipe for a year and a half and have finally come up with a recipe that works (this is not the traditional Brazilian Cheese Bread recipe, that boils the milk and oil first).

One of the crucial things that I found out, is that there are 2 kinds of tapioca flour, fermented tapioca flour that rises (not sold at this point in the United States) and regular tapioca flour that does not rise (the tapioca flour that is sold in the United States).  So having figured that one out, the trick is to use gluten free baking powder to get this delicious cheese bread-balls-tiny loafs to rise.

Traditionally Brazilian Cheese Bread/Balls are round, for some reason I like mine looking like little loafs, so that’s what I’ve pictured here.

Brazilian Cheese Bread-tiny loaf (press image to enlarge)
Brazilian Cheese Bread-tiny loaf (press image to enlarge)

Brazilian Cheese Balls/Bread are traditionally chewy on the inside, this version is much more like regular bread – a eureka moment.

And this version is lactose free.  The cheese, mozzarella and parmesan are lactose free and I use lactose free milk.  You can use regular milk.

Tapioca flour has the consistency of cornstarch, and after a certain point, it’s impossible to mix by hand.  So what I’ve done is added enough tapioca flour to be able to mix, and then knead the dough with extra tapioca flour.

Recipe below:

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 Cup milk (I use 1%)

1 1/2 t salt

2 t gluten-free baking powder

2/3 cup canola oil

3 cups tapioca flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Extra tapioca flour for kneading the dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dough ready for the oven (press image to enlarge)
Dough ready for the oven (press image to enlarge)

Mix cheese, salt, baking powder, then add eggs using a fork until the eggs are mixed into the chess, salt and baking powder mixture. Stir in milk and then add the oil, and you can still use a fork.  Add tapioca flour, mix with a spatula.

Put in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes, to let the dough bubble (it bubbles!!) and to set.  The longer it sits, the firmer it will be. There will be a little oil on the top, don’t worry, it will be kneaded into the dough.

In a large bowl (you could do it on the counter, but the flour is so fine it gets everywhere, hence the recommendation for a bowl) put about 1/4 of a cup or so of tapioca flour (see photo).

Brazilian Cheese Bread cooling (press image to enlarge)
Brazilian Cheese Bread baked (press image to enlarge)

Take a third of the mixture, with part of any of the oil that is on top,  and put the dough in the bowl with a spatula and coat it with the tapioca flour (see photo).

Take square of  parchment paper and put the dough on the parchment paper and knead it. (Again, you could knead the dough on your kitchen counter, but this just makes it a whole lot easier to clean up.) Add more flour if needed (no pun intended), and knead it into the dough, until it is firm (see photo).  It will be greasy, don’t worry, it’s one of the things that makes it taste good.

The inside of the Brazilian Cheese Bread (press image to enlarge)
The inside of the Brazilian Cheese Bread (press image to enlarge)

Take enough flour to make about an inch and a half ball of dough. Roll the dough in your hands and then roll into a tube shape about 2 inches (see photo). A third of the dough makes about 15 little “loaves.”

Cover a cookie sheet (roughly 15″ x 10″) with parchment paper. Put the little loaves on the parchment paper (see photo) and put the cookie sheet into the 350 degree oven. Then take a look in about 15 minutes (it should take a total of  20 to 25 minutes, oven temperatures vary).

At 15 minutes the little loaves should be rising. Watch carefully for the next 10 minutes.  Often the loaves at the end of the cookie sheet will brown before the inside loaves.  Take out the loaves as they become golden and place on a piece of parchment paper to cool. You want the loaves golden (see photo) but not too brown.

Tiny loaves in container ready to freeze (press image to enlarge)
Tiny loaves in container ready to freeze (press image to enlarge)

Let loaves completely cool and then place in a container (see photo).  Place open container in refrigerator to cool some more.  When the loaves are cold, put the lid on the container and freeze.

To eat (if you haven’t eaten them all right then and there) you can defrost them in a microwave.

The loaves have bubbles, holes, just like real bread, and people that I have served them to just can’t stop eating them!! So they are great for folks who aren’t gluten free at all.

Makes 45 – 50 small “loaves.”

Another breakthrough gluten free eureka moment for moi, and hopefully for you too.

(To see why in the world The Newburyport Blog has a recipe for Gluten Free Brazilian Cheese Bread-Balls-Tiny Loaves, please press here.)

Tapioca flour in bowl (press image to enlarge)
Tapioca flour in bowl (press image to enlarge)
Dough in flour in bowl (press image to enlarge)
Dough in flour in bowl (press image to enlarge)
Flour kneaded (press image to enlarge)
Flour kneaded (press image to enlarge)

The Best, Safest, Gluten Free Takeout Food in Newburyport

Boiled Lobsters
Boiled Lobsters

The best, safest, gluten free takeout food in Newburyport is from David’s Fish Market over the bridge in Salisbury (one of the best seafood markets ever).

David’s Fish Market has been a family owned and operated business for over 50 years.  It was started by Arthur David and is now run by his grandson Gordon Blaney.

David’s will boil you a lobster or lobsters, and it doesn’t get any fresher or any better.  The lobsters can be hot or cold.  Just give them a 2 hour notice (and remember to pay by cash or check, no credit or debit cards).

My favorite is cold lobster, one of my mother’s most loved meals, served with gluten free Hellmann’s mayonnaise and a little lemon, or a really good sauce/dip I recently came up with.

Sauce/dip for cold lobster:

Cook frozen chopped spinach, which is wicked healthy (microwave works great), drain and remove as much moister as possible (I use paper towels).

For one serving: 2 Tablespoons of cooked chopped spinach and mix with 2 Tablespoons of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, which is gluten free.  A few drops of gluten free Tamari Sauce (possible alternatives to Tamari sauce – soy sauce or worcestershire sauce).  That’s it, for some reason this combo is amazing.

And going to David’s is fun. You get to go over the Merrimack River on Rt 1 and it’s an old time fish market where you can see the fresh fish coming in and being prepared in back, like being filleted kind of prepared. You know it’s fresh. And if you live in Newburyport and the surrounding area, or are coming to visit, it’s a place not to be missed.

When I first moved here 30 some years ago, there used to be at least 3 independent local fish markets, David’s is the last one standing, and it’s awesome.

4 Gluten Free Game Changers (That Changed my Gluten Free Life)

On September 4th of this year it will be 3 years since I’ve been on a mandatory Gluten Free diet.

There are 2 products that did not exist when I was first diagnosed, and thank you General Mills and Kellogg’s, your products are very much appreciated.  The other two products did exist.

I thought I would give those who come to the Newburyport Blog looking for help on Gluten Free (weirdly there are now 1000’s of people who land here – and as a btw, welcome to the Newburyport Blog) a heads-up on what has helped make a gluten free life much more normal and enjoyable, because Gluten Free can be such a maze to figure out.

Gluten Free Chex Cereal

chex-cerealGluten free Chex Cereal has been a total game changer. Before they first created mainstream gluten free cereal, I had come up with a Cream of Rice (tasty) concoction, but was so relieved to have a “normal” breakfast. The Chex Cereals are now being advertised on TV, and believe you me, every gluten free human being out there is mucho grateful. (My personal favorite is their Corn Chex.)

Almond Meal – Flour Cookies

bobsredmillThe almond meal cookie recipe that I came up with was one of the biggest game changers (1000’s and 1000’s of people come to the Newburyport Blog looking for almond meal cookies, and now weirdly, at the moment, it ranks high on Google for “almond meal cookies,” go figure).

Gluten Free processed snacks taste gross.  The almond meal-flour cookies are quick and easy to make, and they taste delicious and “normal,” as well as being really good for you.  I use Bob’s Red Mill, which can be found in Newburyport at Natural Grocer and Market Basket. The recipe can be found here.

Kellogg’s Gluten Free Rice Krispies

ricekrispiesOne would think that Rice Krispies would be gluten free, but they were not until recently.  Recently Kellogg’s has make a gluten free version (thank you Kellogg’s).

Put the gluten free Rice Krispies into a plastic bag and pulverized them with a rolling pin. The Rice Krispies are an amazing substitute for breadcrumbs, not easy to find if you are gluten free.

They make an incredible coating for things like chicken and fish, and are fantastic as a filler for things like  meatloaf and meatballs.  It rivals, and in some ways surpasses regular, normal, traditional breadcrumbs or crackers.  I don’t know what Kellogg’s does, but it’s a game changer.  A recipe for fish (which is also amazing with chicken) can be found here.

San-J Gluten Free Tamari Sauce

san-jRegular soy sauce has wheat in it (an awful lot of things do).  San-J makes a Gluten Free Tamari Sauce which is a lot like soy sauce and can be used in making Chinese and Japanese dishes, but its subtle flavor makes it even more versatile.  I use it in place of worcestershire sauce (which could be gluten free, and also contains other things that for some, may or may not be digestible) and it makes eating life, again, more normal and enjoyable.

San-J Gluten Free Tamari Sauce can be found at Natural Grocer and Market Basket in Newburyport.

Gluten Free BLT – Bacon Bowls – No Bread

Bacon Bowl - Megan Reardon, of "not martha"
Bacon Bowl, courtesy of Megan Reardon, of "not martha"

In my web-searching for nothing in particular, I came across this “thing,” this amazing “thing” that I’ve never heard about before.  And for folks who are looking for gluten free stuff (or just anyone), well how cool is this, a BTL bowl, a bacon bowl, a BLT without bread!!

I encountered this amazing “thing,” bacon bowl on a blog called “not martha.”  And from what I can make out the idea has zipped around, (I am late to the bacon bowl world, but I bet lots of other folks may be late to the bacon bowl world too!), but it looks like, from what I can make out, it all started with Megan Reardon, or “not martha,” (not Martha Stewart??).

This is not my photo, it belongs to, and is courtesy of Megan Reardon, who lives in Seattle, and writes “not martha.”  To learn how to make these amazing bacon bowl wonders press here.

Gluten Free Breading for Fish – A Eureka Moment!

The Newburyport Blog gets a lot of visitors looking for “gluten free,” that Celiac whammy moment can be quite a shock.  And looking for a substitute for breadcrumbs, quite a head-scratcher.  Took me two and half years to come up with a substitute that is wicked yummy, so I pass it on to all those who are gluten free searching (and as a btw it rivals or maybe even better than those regular breadcrumbs for those un-gluten free folks).

The great big wonderful secret, Kellogg’s has come out with a gluten free version of Rice Krispies (one would think that Rice Krispies would have always been gluten free, but not so).  Put a bunch of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies in a plastic bag and then pulverize them with a rolling pin until they are crumbs (does not take long).

Take your fish fillet, squeeze lemon juice on both sides, coat both sides with oil (olive oil or whatever oil you would like), sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese, and then coat with the Rice Krispie pulverized crumbs (almost dust).

Cook, saute in oil.

The thing is that this Rice Krispie mixture makes the fish fillets not only brown, and delicious, but gives the fish a crispiness, that I’ve been unable to duplicate until Kelloggs came out with this wonderful gluten free gem (also great for meatloaf and meatballs, as well as a coating for chicken. It’s a Yum!).

Any fish fillet will do, Talapia, Catfish, Flounder etc.

Now, George is VERY upset with me that I mentioned catfish, because Councilor Cronin has a catfish called Lucky who is a big fan of George’s, and George does not appreciate the fact that I am encouraging the readership of The Newburyport Blog to actually eat relatives (however distant) of Lucky’s.

And to make matters even weirder for George (and now for moi), George is thinking about making Lucky a political consultant to The Newburyport Blog.  This is all thinking out loud on George’s part, but at some point he would very much like me to consider adding Lucky to the political roster.  This may take some head scratching on my part, never mind Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin!  Although, Lucky does have quite a story to tell.

(If you can’t find Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, Gluten Free Rice Chex will do, not as good, but Ok.)

Gluten Free Brazilian Cheese Flatbread

Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour
Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour

I find gluten free bread to be gross, even Udi’s, and there is no nutritional value. I’ve given up on GF bread bread, in fact I gave it up way long ago.  And I have been searching for some sort of solution.  A friend of mine gave me Brazilian Cheese Balls, which are gluten free, about an inch and a half round and yummy, and made with tapioca flour.  So I decided to go on a hunt for Brazilian Cheese Ball recipes.  But what I really wanted was something that tasted like the Brazilian Cheese Balls but was flat.

So after mucho experimentation I came up with this recipe.  I have never, ever baked until I got on this gluten free diet thing, and I like easy recipes, and this is easy, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

The “bread” smells like buttery bread, tastes a little bit like a flat chewy croissant, and I eat it for a snack.

And since people come to the Newburyport looking for Gluten Free stuff, and the Almond Meal cookie recipe (see earlier post) has been a hit from all over the US, I thought I would share this recipe as well. (Anything to make folks who are on a gluten free diet lives more enjoyable. This is my gluten free comfort food.  And finding GF comfort food ain’t easy.)


Brazilian Cheese Flat Bread

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (in a package, make sure it is Gluten Free, check what is used to make sure it doesn’t gum up, hopefully something like potato starch)

2 eggs

1 cup milk (can be lactose free)

1 1/2 t salt

1 t GF baking powder

1/2 cup canola oil

3 cups tapioca flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill, see photo above)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cheese, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk and oil (can can use a fork).  Add tapioca flour, mix with spatula. (If the consistency is too runny, add a little more tapioca flour a tablespoon at a time, flour consistency sometimes differs with each package.)

Cover a cookie sheet (roughly 15″ x 10″) with parchment paper, cut so that there is about half an inch of parchment paper sticking up all the way around.

Take half mixture and spread as evenly as possible, making a rectangle, leaving about an half an inch to an inch of space between the mixture and the edge of the paper.

Cook for 15 to 25 minutes (temperatures of ovens vary).  Watch closely, and remove when light brown all over, including the middle.  The edges will brown first.

Remove the cooked bread still on the parchment paper and put on the counter to cool.  The bread will puff up during cooking, and then flatten as it cools.  Cut into 12 (more or less) pieces and freeze.  I put pieces in a plastic tub and separate them with wax paper.

Heat up in microwave when hungry.  I like it a little warm and chewy, not completely cooled (my own personal taste).

It can also be lactose free.  Mozzarella chess does not have sugar, and is lactose free.  And I use a fortified lactose free milk, lots of vitamins.  (You can also try it with other kinds of cheese.)

I’ve only make the flat bread  with reduced fat mozzarella and 1% milk, so I don’t know what it would taste like if made otherwise.

Smells like buttery bread.  Tastes like a chewy croissant. Makes a great snack.  Don’t need to put anything on it.

It could be tweaked to make a good pizza dough (but haven’t gotten that far yet).

Almond Meal-Flour Cookies (They are Gluten Free)

And now for something completely different.

Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour at Market Basket and Natural Grocer in Newburyport, click to enlarge.
Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour at Market Basket and Natural Grocer in Newburyport, click to enlarge.

A lot of people arrive at the Newburyport Blog looking for “Newburyport, Gluten Free.”  I get emails from folks wondering if there is a Newburyport gluten free support group.  Nope, there isn’t, but I’ve sure have learned a whole lot about good old gluten free stuff, including the wonders of Almond Meal, incredibly good for you (whether you are gluten free or not), if you click the thumbnail of the back of the almond meal package, you’ll see.

The wonders and nutritional value of almond meal, press to enlarge.
The wonders and nutritional value of almond meal, press to enlarge.

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour can be found at Market Basket here in Newburyport as well as Natural Grocer.  It’s magic.  Aside from easy to bake cookies, that have changed my gluten free life, it’s also an amazing coating along with parmesan chess on things like fish, it has its own oil.  Who knew.  Now the readers of the Newburyport Blog know.  The frogs wish that almond meal had come into their lives decades ago (were they around decades ago, I don’t think so. Frogs!!).


Vanilla Almond Meal Cookies (and variations)
(Adapted from Elana’s Pantry,, Elana Amsterdam, website and cookbook)

1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
Dash pumpkin spice or cinnamon (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup oil, canola or grapeseed oil (each has slightly different effect, I use canola oil)
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons GF vanilla

  1. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda in a bowl.
  2. Stir together sugar and water, add vanilla in a smaller bowl and then oil and combine.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry.
  4. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350° for 5-6 minutes
  6. Cool and serve (can also freeze, I freeze in plastic square containers separated by wax paper, can put in microwave to unfreeze or eat frozen!)
  7. Makes around 27 cookies, about 60 calories each
  1. For chocolate cookies use 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 Table spoons cocoa powder (put into the dry ingredients)(I also like a dash/shake of cinnamon).
  2. For orange cookies use 1 teaspoon orange extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like a good shake/dash of pumpkin spice).
  3. For peanut butter cookies work in 1-2 teaspoons peanut butter at the end.
  4. For marble black and white cookies, take half  the mixture and add 1T of cocoa. Take one half vanilla and one half chocolate mixture for each cookie. (You can also add a teaspoon of peanut butter to the vanilla mixture to make marble black and white peanut butter cookies.)
  5. For lemon cookies use 1 teaspoon lemon extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Zest from one lemon optional, but delicious, and I like a good shake/dash of pumpkin spice.
  6. For chocolate chip cookies, use the vanilla recipe and add Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels, the tiny ones. (You can also add chopped slivered almonds, and chopped dried mango is also fantastic. Any of those three ingredients, separate or together, are terrific.)

(There is also a more detailed almond meal-flour chocolate chip recipe here.)

Udi’s Gluten Free Bread-Eureka-at Newburyport’s Market Basket

Udi's White BreadI had a reader who wrote to me who said that as a Celiac they had “divorced” bread.

And a year or so ago when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, I tried every gluten free bread out there, including highly recommended bread by people at the Newburyport Farmer’s Market who knew from bread.

They either tasted like sand or a combination of glue and sand. Discouraging doesn’t begin to describe it.

I had heard the “buzz” about a gluten free bread that didn’t make a person cry. Udi’s White Bread from Denver, Colorado.

And I found out yesterday, that Market Basket in Newburyport carries it.

So today, with great trepidation, and ready for major disappointment, I went on a hunt. And yes indeed, at Newburyport’s Market Basket, in aisle 16, across from the produce, nestled in between the frozen bagels, were 3 loaves of Udi’s White Bread.

I took a loaf home. The real test of a gluten free bread is if you can microwave it, and then eat it with a little butter (like regular people). And Eureka! Udi’s white bread pasted the test…Gluten free, Celiac’s out there, it actually tastes good, maybe better than good. No nutritional value, but hey, it’s one great big huge start. The more we ask for it, the more Market Basket in Newburyport will get it. For Celiacs everywhere, this is one huge breakthrough.

Celiac, etc., Too Much Information

Actually readers of the Newburyport Blog haven’t heard from its editor, namely me, for a while, not just because of a post (no pun intended), very long, local Newburyport election letdown (see earlier entry). Something else is “amiss,” but it seems just like “too much information-tmi” for any “discussion” on the Newburyport Blog. So to process this new “amiss” thing, I found starting a new blog, “The Year of Eating Weirdly” to be highly therapeutic.

The newest blog actually takes “comments” (although there are no comments at the moment), figuring that comments on weird eating things would be far less hostile than comments about Newburyport, aka “Cannibal City.” Although this may prove not to be true.

I did not put the blog on my domain name, because I have this notion that it might be enjoyable to be “anonymous,” (although chit chatting about the new blog on the Newburyport Blog sort of destroys that notion.) It has its own domain name, “”.

And I went for “easy.” I didn’t use WordPress blog software, I instead opted for “Blogger,” and the people at Google definitely have this blog thing figured out. Good grief Blogger is a breeze to use compared to good old, now going on four years of using WordPress.

So those readers of the Newburyport Blog who apparently are “appalled” at my on going policy of “not commenting for all sorts of reasons” on the Newburyport Blog, would be happy to know that I have joined the legion of bloggers allowing comments and blissful “anonymity.”

Gluten Free, Newburyport and the North Shore

I will admit that I was hoping that I would turn up some fellow Newburyport and Massachusetts North Shore gluten free/Celiacs (see earlier entries) by writing about the subject on the Newburyport Blog.

And voila, so far someone local who makes gluten free cookies and a fellow Newburyport Celiac has contacted me. Thank you! But according to the statistics, 1 in 133 people have Celiac disease, there have to be a whole lot more folks out there–and I could sure use your help.

One of the things that I have discovered, is that although gluten free awareness is spreading by leaps and bounds, my experience of being told to go on a gluten free diet (no wheat, barley or rye) immediately, which is life altering and overwhelming, and then pretty much left hanging with no recommended support system, is by and large the norm.

From what I can make out, Beth Israel Hospital has a research and Celiac center in Boston, and Children’s Hospital in Boston has support for families with Celiac disease, but Massachusetts appears to be lacking behind many, many states in Celiac support. (And for a state full of cutting edge medical stuff, this seems odd.)

And I think our health care system doesn’t help much either. In researching why in the world my health insurance could possibly go up 37% in one year, I discovered that doctors will only be paid for office visits, not phone calls, much less emails. One of my doctors that I have known for years, recently told me that he now has to become a “businessman,” seeing as many patients as possible in a day, instead of spending the time talking with them, making sure that he knows them, and helping them with individual problem solving approaches, because otherwise he will go out of business. Discouraging to say the least.

And because Celiac is just beginning to be researched, it appears that a person would be “lucky” just to be diagnosed, but having a “Celiac team” to help figure out how to adjust to this weird thing, in most cases seems elusive.

I’m all for having a Newburyport or Massachusetts North Shore Gluten Free/Celiac support group. I’m sure there are a whole lot of people beside me who could use one too. And although there are no “comments” on the Newburyport Blog (see many earlier entries), I do have a contact email–info (AT)

Crazy Health Insurance Rate Hike

My health insurance this year goes up a whopping 37%. It is so high I weirdly feel embarrassed, instead of angry and outraged.

I am one of those people who basically gets to buy their health insurance “retail,” no bargaining power for moi.

Ed Cameron graciously tells me who to email on the Massachusetts State level, and I send Representative Harriett Stanley, the co-chair of the state’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing an email and Cc it to Representative Mike Costello and State Senator Steven Baddour, my own Massachusetts state representatives. From the article in the
Newburyport Daily News, it is quite evident that Harriett Stanley is well aware of my predicament and others like me, and is doing her dardest to do everything that she can to address the issue. But 37% ??

And, thank goodness one can no longer say that nobody is paying attention to the issue when the top guy, the President of the United States, is all over the place, talking about my exact problem. If President Barack Obama can’t pull this off, I am beyond sunk.

My health insurance sales rep has been great. She and I have worked together for almost a decade to try and get the best possible deal possible. We are now, after all these years, on a first name basis.

Two years ago a “deductible” health insurance plan was the answer. The deductible was high enough, however, that I didn’t go to the doctor (which may be the point of a high deductible??). Could Celiac/gluten free (see earlier entries) have been diagnosed sooner? Who knows. Last (health insurance calendar) year I said “To Hell with it, I’ll pay the stupid deductible,” and it turns out it was a good thing that I did.

This year to bring down the monthly cost, the deductible would be so off the charts that I would basically be paying for everything aside from very large medical bills. And the monthly premiums would not have been that much lower. The health insurance rep could think of nothing else to come up with, so 37%… beyond “Ouch.” And she was embarrassed about not being able to come up with anything except “pretty unacceptable.”

But, as I said to my health insurance rep, when my son will no longer be able to be on my health insurance plan, which is soon, in New York City he would pay roughly two and two-thirds (almost 3 times) more for the same quality of insurance that he is now getting in Massachusetts. My vow to my son is that I would make sure that he would always have health insurance. So, after much research, he will get a lesser product in the state of New York for “only” twice what he would pay in Massachusetts for a much better product. Triple “Ouch.” (This weirdly makes Massachusetts look not so bad.) One could only imagine how badly I would like health insurance reform to pass on the Federal level? Please, please, please.

Celiac Slump in Newburyport

I begin to figure out how to eat at home with this gluten free, Celiac thing (see earlier entries), but what about my beloved, in a pinch or not even in a pinch, Newburyport take-out restaurant.

I go to my first line of take-out defense, Chinese–Szechuan Taste on Pleasant Street. On one of my Newburyport walks I stop by during a non-busy afternoon time. I look at the soy sauce on the table, it contains “wheat, ” ie gluten. I am too discouraged to ask about how they prepare the actual food. I will come back at another time.

My next stop is my beloved Purple Onion on Inn Street. One of my favorites, their “Roast Beef Sandwich on Multigrain Bread” is obviously out, but what about their “Garlicky Saute Chicken” over rice? I talk to the owner who graciously goes and checks the labels on their tamari sauce–it contains wheat/gluten. I am crestfallen. I will return at a later date and we will check the ingredients in their guacamole, shredded cheese (yes this can contain gluten to prevent caking–good grief), hot sauce and sour cream. Too many labels in one spot for me today.

And I think “Ah hah,” Newburyport, a city that is cuisinewise diverse, has two Indian restaurants, Indian food being naturally gluten free using rice and bean based flours (who knew I would know about this sort of thing two months ago??). I go over to Pleasant Street again, enter the small, beautiful park, Tracy Place and go into Jewel In The Crown restaurant. I explain my predicament and the response is “Not to worry, no wheat.” I tell them that they have now become my new best friend, and I have found my first celiac take-out place. Whew.

And when I go to Jewel In The Crown restaurant for lunch the next day, they could not be more gracious, and are very patient in repeating the phrase that now makes me so happy: “No wheat.” And I look forward to eating every item on their menu, something I would never have done before being told to go on the gluten free diet from Hell. My celiac slump feels slightly less slump like as I try my first dish, “Chicken Saag,” in an introduction to a brand new cuisine. And I am so taken with chicken saag, that I go home to my trusty computer to find a recipe for this incredible gluten free dish and add it to my now beginning celiac repertoire.

PS. Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant in Newburyport has a gluten free menu. I tried their grilled chicken breast, garlic mashed potatoes and roasted green beans, and it was great. It was also very nice to walk into a place and no have to explain this “weird” thing, and to have them completely understand.