I get asked gluten free questions often, especially from folks who have just started to embrace a gluten free diet. I’m a newbie at this as well, and my motivation comes straight from my heart ... my littlest chow hound. I’ll climb any mountain, cross any sea, forge any storm to help my kidlins, and since my wee one can’t eat wheat, a gluten free lifestyle has become my best friend.
One question that I get asked often is, “What CAN you eat?” The answer is lots of stuff. Lots and lots and LOTS of stuff. Think meat, fish, veggies, dairy, nuts, rice, and potatoes. There are lots of grains, too, such as quinoa and gluten free oats, that pack a whopping flavor punch into our diet. As I get more experience under my belt, converting recipes is becoming easier and easier, too. So you can see that we aren’t withering away to nothingness, gnashing our teeth, or sobbing in despair. Nor are we really missing wheat in our tummies. Our gluten free lifestyle is, well just good food! No special requirements here, all that’s needed is a hungry tummy to fill.
Take last night’s dinner for example. Sweet and sour pork stir fry. This was a quick, easy, colorful meal that came together in less than 30 minutes. Most of the time was spent on prep work and cooking the rice. I based this recipe on one found in the 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes cookbook by Carol Fenster. I tweaked it just a bit and was pleased with the results. This serves 4-5.
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 onion, cut vertically in ¼ inch slices
1 carrot, sliced super thin on the bias
1 red pepper, seeded, and chopped into larger sized squares
1 green pepper, seeded, and chopped into larger sized squares
2.5 lbs thick pork chops, sliced into strips (I prefer strips, but you can cube these)
1 20 oz can pineapple chunks in juice, including the juice
1/3 scant cup cider vinegar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons wheat free tamari soy sauce (I used San-J brand)
1 teaspoon powdered ginger (can use fresh – I was out)
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water until smooth
Hot cooked rice
In a wok or very large skillet, heat 1.5 tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat.Cook the onion, carrot, and red and green bell peppers, stirring frequently, until they are just start to loose their raw-ness and the onion starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Make sure you leave the veggies somewhat crunchy. Transfer the veggies to a plate.Add the remaining oil and stir fry the pork strips, until cooked through and nicely browned. Season with white pepper.
Add the pineapple chunks, including the juice, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the skillet, continuing to stir until the mixture thickens slightly. Return the vegetables to the work, bring to serving temperature, and serve over hot cooked rice.Now, I will point out that when I served my older children, aka Members of the Foods Should Not Touch Club, I placed it next to the rice. Actually, I tried to segregate the food before placing it on their plates. Hey, although it gets old doing that, most of the time I don’t mind and they actually eat that way. I pick my battles, and food is not one of them. I remind myself that there are foods that I don’t care for, and since I wouldn’t appreciate someone trying to force me, well, I won’t force them. I don’t want any bad Karma. These are the same children, after all, who just might be in charge of me when I’m a little, ancient, toothless woman. Ew, let’s skip the toothless part, shall we. I can handle little and ancient, but I’d like to keep my chompers.On a more pleasant note, this dish is delightful for anyone’s chompers. Lots of texture at work here. The crunchiness of the veggies pairs wonderfully with the chewiness of the pork and rice. I find stir fried pork to be pure bliss. The pineapple adds a nice bit of zing, and plays nicely with the saltiness of the soy sauce. I think a garnish of green onion would be nice here, but I was out.
I served my starving family and while they started to chow down, I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple pics to share with you. My youngest daughter was fascinated with the chop sticks, and asked if she could use them, too. I have to admit, they make meal time fun. Usually my kids set them down about half way through the meal, and revert back to silverware. Hmm ... I wonder if kids who usually eat with chopsticks ever ask their mom’s if they could try silverware?With or without chopsticks, this is a great gluten free meal to be enjoyed by the entire family. Quicker and cheaper than ordering take-out, this is perfect for those busy weeknights when you are tired and want to pull something nutritious together quickly. YUM!
What do you like to make on those nights when you want something quick and easy?