Saturday, February 18, 2012

A great primer on gluten intolerances

This blog post I thought was helpful and informative in terms of answering - why are so many people sensitive to gluten? Why is sentitivity increasing?
Sarah posts several bits from medical journal articles and some of the most common scientific "guesses" as to why so many people have developed gluten in tolerances, such as genetic engineering of wheat to contain higher levels of gluten, and the result of several generations of people eating way more gluten than they used to.
I don't agree with Sarah that gluten is a poison for all people, although it certainly is to me. Gluten is a complex and difficult-to-break-down protein, like casein (one of the proteins in dairy products.) So it makes sense that a stressed-out system might react against digesting it. There is some evidence that the ability to digest gluten slows down with age and that more women than men are sensitive to gluten and are unable to digest it. I hadn't read about the thyroid connection mentioned in the blog post, but I guess that makes sense - I also have autoimmune thyroiditis, and apparently people with that condition are much more likely to have celiac disease.
The testing for celiac disease she mentions is indeed problematic, but if you'd like to get tested without going back on wheat, there is a DNA test for the celiac disease gene you can ask your doctor about. (I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, usual disclaimers, blah blah blah.)
I thought those of you who were curious about gluten and gluten intolerance might enjoy reading her post. It's a pretty accurate conglomeration of everything I've read on the subject thus far, with the above caveats.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Asparagus, Ricotta, and potato frittatas - individual sized!

This has become my fall-back brunch recipe this winter - a perfect way to use leftover roasted potatoes and asparagus, something you can make ahead of time for guests, and, using muffin tins to bake them instead of the greasier cast-iron skillet-sautee method, even kind of...light. For something made of eggs and cheese, anyway :) I happen to use cream cheese and ricotta salata because I'm casein-sensitive and these two forms of cheese don't seem to bother me as much, but you could substitute a more flavor-intense cheese, like a nice fresh goat cheese, if you like.

Gluten-Free Baked Frittata Cups with Asparagus and Ricotta


· 1 medium to large russet potato

· 1 Tbsp. cooking oil (I use Safflower)

· 4 large eggs

· 2 Tbsps. milk

· 2-3 asparagus spears (or some other vegetable), finely chopped (I use a mandolin)

· 2 Tbsps. cream cheese

· 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I use a sheep's milk ricotta salata)

· Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease/spray a six-muffin pan, or else use a silicone pan, which doesn’t require any extra slipperiness.

2. Peel and dice the potato into smaller, 1/4 in. cubes, and rinse to keep from browning (I usually instead toss them liberally with salt and then blanch them in hot water, to give them a little more flavor). If you have leftover potato wedges or little roasted potatoes from the night before, those work here as well - maybe a cup of those.

3. Drain the potatoes well, pat dry with a paper towel, and toss with oil. Then sauté in a skillet over medium heat until well-browned and crunchy. (If you're using leftover roasted potatoes, you can skip this step. You can also broil the potatoes or bake, and I've even used pre-made hash browns here instead. It's a flexible recipe that way!)

4. Beat the eggs and milk until frothy, which is easiest to do in a cup with an immersion blender.

5. Distribute the browned potatoes amongst the muffin cups, then top with small pieces of cream cheese, asparagus, and shredded ricotta salata cheese, and finally pour the egg mixture evenly into the cups and bake until puffed-up and browned on top, about 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.