Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mexican Sweet Plantain Recipe

Mexican Plantain Recipe

Our best friends vacationed in Mexico this past February and our family vacationed in Playa del Carmen, Mexico in March.  We recently got together to celebrate, share photos, trade stories and enjoy a Mexican feast.  My girlfriend is also gluten-intolerant so a gluten-free menu is always on the table when we get together.  They put together a truly delicious taco bar with fresh organic sauteed chicken, pork, steak, shrimp, pico de gallo, Mexican soft cheese, guacamole, salsa, diced red onion and soft, warm gluten-free tortillas.  WOW!  Amazing and delicious.
We contributed Mexican Fruit Salad, Sweet Plantains and Mexican Black Bean dip.  Thankfully the fruit salad and bean dip were delicious, because my attempt at sweet plantains did not go well.
I followed Tyler Florence's recipe for Mexican Sweet Plantains.  The biggest mistake I made was not using ripe plantains.  Although it does indicate in the recipe to use ripe, black plantains, I didn't pay attention and I used green plantains.  They were not ripe, were very hard and dry.  So, unfortunately, the dish didn't turn out so well:(  I will definitely try again and this time, I'll be sure to let my plantains turn black before I even think about cooking them.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mexican Black Bean Dip

Mexican Black Bean Dip

1 15oz can organic black beans rinsed and drained
1 tsp quality olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels(or canned)
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 t ground cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 TBSP fresh lime juice

Place the rinsed and drained beans in a medium size mixing bowl.  Partially mash the beans, they should remain slightly chunky.
In a medium sized frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sautee onion and garlic for 15 minutes
Add the beans, corn, tomato, cum and chile powder and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, mix in the cheese, cilantro and lime juice.

Pour into a nice bowl and serve with your favorite gluten-free tortilla chips.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mexican Fruit Salad

Mexican Fruit Salad

serves 4-6

1 cup chopped fresh mango(if you can find a Champagne Mango - they are delicious)
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 kiwi
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1 cup seedless red grapes
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh lime juice(approximately 3 limes)

Wash, peel and slice all fruits as necessary.
Combine the mango, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple and grapes in a large bowl.
Combine orange and lemon juices.  Pour over fruit and gently stir.
Combine honey and lime juice in a mason jar with lid.  Shake until well mixed.
Immediately before serving, pour over salad and toss to blend.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tate's "Gluten-Free"

My family, friends and myself have been frequent patrons at Tate's (formerly Kathleen's Cookies) for more than 20 years.  Tate's is an adorable little bakery in a quaint, upscale village.   I have loved their chocolate chip cookies since I was a teenager.  However, I was somewhat surprised to find in the Fall 2012 issue of "Gluten-Free Living" magazine, that staff writer Susan Cohen chose to include Tate's gluten-free cookies as one of her recommended new products.  I know, because I have been there many times, that all bakery goods are produced in the same small kitchen on shared equipment.  Shortly thereafter I attended the Gluten-Free Expo on Long Island and was surprised that a local vendor was there with Tate's on his table.  I had a somewhat heated discussion with him about the validity of Tate's products being gluten-free.  Then in the Holiday 2012 issue of "Gluten-Free Living" there was a feature article about Tate's gluten-free products stating that their gf cookies are sold nationwide and a gluten-free facility is "in the works" for next year.   I find it truly exasperating.
Yesterday, I went into Tate's and asked them about their facility and manufacturing process.  ALL bakery goods are produced in the same small kitchen, on the same equipment, baked on the same cookie sheets etc.  SO many opportunities for cross-contamination.  I asked if they tested their product to ensure that gluten-free bakery goods are indeed gluten-free, and the answer was no.  AND, the label on the gf products does not disclose that products are made in a shared facility.
I think it is irresponsible for "Gluten-Free Living" magazine to feature and promote a company that is not certified gluten-free.  It is equally mis-leading and irresponsible for a company to label its' products as gluten-free when they cannot guarantee its' gluten free status.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gluten Free Dining in Mexico

Well, we've been home now for a few days after spending 8 days in the gorgeous Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  I've been avoiding writing this post because I simply don't know where to begin.  I've decided that it's important to mention the resort where we vacationed because it is an all-inclusive, family style, eco-friendly resort.  I receive absolutely no compensation from the resort.  My hubby and I booked this trip a few months ago through an on-line discount travel agency.  The Sandos Playacar in Playa del Carmen is an absolutely beautiful, beach front resort with a gorgeous pool and fantastic nightly entertainment.  The food was good, a huge variety to please every palate, but as far as gluten-free, it was a bit of a challenge.  

Gluten-free in Spanish is gluten libre.  Without gluten in Spanish is sin gluten.  The Sandos staff was extremely friendly and helpful, however, I don't think one person we spoke with really understood what gluten/wheat is.  The resort has four restaurants open for dinner where you can make reservations, be seated and served.  There is a cafe that serves cupcakes(none were gluten free) and a variety of coffees, teas, and shakes.  There are two restaurants that are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and are buffet style.  There is a fabulous beach front juice bar - really awesome, a beachfront bagel cafe(nothing gluten free) and a beach front lunch stand.  Everything is all inclusive so you can go anywhere and eat "anything".


We spent our first full day there at the beach, exploring the resort, relaxing and figuring out the lay of the land.  We headed to the beach front lunch stand where there were hot dogs and hamburgers with buns and fixins, what looked like roasted potatoes, and an ice cream machine with cones.  The food is set out buffet style.  I fixed a plate of a plain burger and potatoes for my little guy.  Within two hours he was vomiting violently.  The last time he had an accidental gluten exposure was one year ago(when he was at a Scout meeting) and he also vomited suddenly, quickly, violently but within minutes, bounces back and feels "fine".  Prior to going gluten-free he NEVER vomited.  I think his body is more sensitive now that he has been strictly gluten-free for just about two years now.  Needless to say, I was devastated that I had made that error and exposed him to gluten.  I'm still devastated and worried about the long term health effects of gluten exposure.  Trying to find the silver lining, it did serve as a good reminder for him of what will happen if he does have gluten.  But I still haven't forgiven myself.
Anyway, the food.  We chose to mainly eat at the buffet style restaurants as there was a great variety to please all five of us.  My little guy dined on lots of fresh fruit, yogurts, fresh juices, hot rice cereal, lots of jello, plain grilled chicken and cups of ice cream.  A really lean and healthy diet.  But for an energetic, growing boy with days full of swimming, hiking, horseback riding on the beach, atv rides through the jungle, river raft rides and nightly live entertainment, he was hungry the entire week!  Thankfully, we had brought a large bag of g-free granola bars, cookies, pretzels etc.  He really needed those extra snacks to help keep him satisfied.  My hubby made out better as he had omelets with veggies and ham, salads full of garbanzo beans, lentils, and cheese, steak, and lots of tropical daiquiris.

We had a fabulous family vacation at the Sandos Playacar.  The kids want to know when we can go back!  I highly recommend the resort, just bring a bag full of g-free goodies with you!