Holidays Are Posts Are Plentiful This Season here on Nest by Tamara!

Holidays Are Posts Are Plentiful This Season here on Nest by Tamara!
Until Jan 1 look for lots of advice and sharing to make your holiday season shine- for starters, over on Trim Queen blog we share tips to help Dress Your Holiday Table, click on photo for story and stop back for more recipes, decorating and holiday posts. photo -- our table at Hope Lodge gala (rootcellardesigns.com)

Sunday, January 22

Cooking for the New Year....favorite Gluten-Free Products


photo via harvard.edu
My New Year Resolution for 2017:
a gluten-free diet (or at least less gluten)
Nest by Tamara's 
Top Five Gluten Food Substitutes
What is Gluten?
"Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected".
A delicious meal begins with a beautiful setting...Just a few of the gluten-free meals we shared over the holiday season.  

I do not profess to be an expert in this category, but, when I decided to give a gluten-free diet a fair shake I sampled many options.  For over twenty years, I suffered from the side effects of a gluten-rich diet--feeling sluggish, bloated and even some skin problems.   On the flip side, I  enjoy entertaining, cooking and living life to the fullest.  

For decades, I have exercised, ate healthy, and I don't believe in diets.  I am fortunate to have been healthy and fit most my life.  I am pretty certain I was one of the original aerobic dancers from the 1980s (leg warmers and all).  I even owned my own dance and aerobics studio while in college called Body Business and taught classes to a dedicated following of customers.  After my time as an instructor, I spent years running to the gym daily for Spinning, Dance and Step classes while juggling raising my kids and building a career.  However, over the past five years, my exercise routine has waned considerably.  I just turned 55 years old (yikes), so I can't rely on good genes and a fast metabolism anymore, and my gluten intolerance has caught up with me.  So, there you have it--my personal, wholistic relationship with exercise and food.  For twenty years, I almost ignored that some of these foods make me feel sick.  This December, I made a commitment to exercise more frequently and give a gluten and dairy free diet a true commitment, a test really to see if I would feel much better. Six weeks into the mostly gluten and dairy free diet (I did cheat on Christmas night with my daughter's homemade pierogie), I feel great.  I've tried many of the gluten-free substitute products, and many friends with experience gave me the advice to avoid all the gluten replacement items like pasta and bread because they just don't taste the same, and then you wind up feeling disappointed.  People advise to embark upon clean, fresh food instead.  That is great advice, especially for long-term success, but honestly I sometimes need the replacements--I miss pasta and bread at this point.  

So, I've tried quite a few, and after some cranky days, I found a happy spot, and feel confident to offer up some of these as great options.  Here are the best of the best I've tried.  Whether you are fully committed or just want to eat less gluten, I encourage you to give these a try. Now, I'm headed to Europe for a couple of weeks, and I cannot promise while in Paris, that I won't sample a French baguette (or two), but once back at home, I will get back on this routine.  It truly works for me.  This new approach is refreshing and much easier than I anticipated.
Happy New Year
Happy Nesting
XO Tamara
many years ago I tried gluten-free pastas and they were starchy, chewy and just not good.  This time, I tried a variety of versions both from the grocery and health food stores, and Barilla seems to have perfected the best version.  The spaghetti shape is much better than the other pasta versions because it holds its texture much better, especially combined with rich sauces.  Just like when I prepare all pasta, it is best with gluten-free to cook it al dente in boiling water then marinate it in a pan with the sauce to permeate the pasta a bit before serving. This technique helps for the most desirable consistency.
for baking at home, this gives you
the closest to all the pizza texture.  It is not perfect, and in all flour mixes there seems to be something missing, but in a fix this will do. 
I am not a cake or cookie lover, but once in a while a nice sweet bite is needed.   I have been stocking up on Tate's cookies for years since the bakery is out in Southampton, Long Island near our beach house.  It's our go-to cookie to take to beach or summer parties.  All Tate's cookies are the crispy variety versus soft and chewy cookies, which we like. The gluten-free one is great in my opinion. 
When you crave a toasted tuna fish sandwich, Udi's sandwich bread is the closest to the "real" toast, with a soft, buttery feel. I am not a fan of eating these breads alone, but somehow when toasted, buttered and/or put together with a sandwich meat, they suffice.  You don't feel cheated.  
for a more substantial bread with all my favorite ingredients--pumpkin seeds, nuts, honey this is a substantial bread.  Perfect for a weekend French Toast. This is great for toasting and serving just with butter and jam.  The nutty flavor and the added textures seem to offset the lack of gluten.  It has become my go-to toast when I need that bread fix.