Affairs of Living

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods recipes

Recent Posts

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner

Site Search
Subscribe

Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

Free Shipping on Vitamix

The Vitamix is my favorite kitchen tool for blending perfectly smooth sauces and smoothies, making my own nut and seed butters, grinding fresh gluten-free flours, and more. Interested in purchasing one? Check out the great deals on reconditioned Vitamix machines, or investigate new Vitamix machine packages. Payment plans are available!

Receive FREE SHIPPING to the US and Canada when you order a Vitamix with my affiliate code 06-004943. 

Save at iherb.com

Save $5 on your first order from iHerb.com with coupon code QAB040.  Visit iHerb.com now to browse natural products and supplements. 

Love it here?

                                

Entries from June 1, 2009 - June 30, 2009

Monday
Jun292009

Why you need to be your own advocate.

"The thing with all those herbs," he told me, "is that you just can't be sure what's in them. You don't know what you're getting. With pharmaceuticals, they are approved and closely monitored, and you always know what you're getting."

I'd heard it before, I heard it this morning, and I will hear it again. You know, the dangers of taking herbal medicines. All those risky, unregulated, little bombs of pure danger that naturopaths and homeopaths and acupuncturists give to their patients. These herbs are also known as the supplements that I take everyday. They are medicines that have helped me heal.

I had my first visit today with a reproductive endocrinologist in an attempt to uncover why my menstrual cycle is totally missing in action. It has been in hiding since February of 2008, and damn, is it ever good at hiding. I used to be like clockwork - no matter what kind of stress, lifestyle changes, new exercise programs, or emotional issues, my cycle was steadfast. I never had yeast infections. Things were good down there. Then in October of 2007 I got the first round of the Gardasil vaccination. This vaccine is supposed to protect against the Human Papilloma Virus, which if contracted, can lead to cervical cancer. My general practitioner at that time had convinced me to get the vaccine, and after some soul searching, I went for it. I am generally suspicious of vaccines, but thought it seemed like an good decision.

I got my period a few days later, and it was irregular and uncomfortable. By the end of the week, I felt like I was getting the flu and was suffering from what felt like the worst yeast infection in history. I went to the emergency room it was so painful, and it turned out to be Bacterial Vaginosis. I was totally confused at this turn of events, but made no association to the vaccine. For the next five months, my cycle became more irratic and the BV returned, but I made no association to the vaccine. In February 2008, I got the second vaccine. Within hours I felt hot, woozy, and got hivies. Within one week, I felt like I had the flu and my BV flared up. I got my period a few days later, and it was very irregular and uncomfortable. And that was the last time I menstruated. My digestive issues got worse. My energy levels hit rock bottom, and I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. My whole body felt like it was freaking out. Sound weird? I agree. But I am not alone in my negative reaction to this vaccine - just try googling "gardasil negative side effects" and you'll be shocked at how many young women have been hurt.

I want my period to come back almost more than anything on earth. The only thing I want more is the ability to travel back in time, and respond "no" instead of "yes" to the question "So, do you want to go ahead with the HPV vaccine?" But since I can't do anything about the latter situation, all I can do is try to fulfill the former.

And that brings me to today's visit to the reproductive endocrinologist. My new general practitioner referred me to see him, because she was totally puzzled. Incidentally, so is he. He said my situation was totally ideopathic. Both doctors seem to agree that my reaction is tied to the vaccine, but neither claim to have ever heard anything like that before. All my test results are totally normal and healthy, with the exception of the fact that I just don't produce adequate amounts of estrogen, progesterone, or FSH. And he has no idea why I'm not producing those. So, I'm getting an MRI to make sure my pituatary gland is in working order, and we took a second round of bloodwork to see if anything has changed in the last two months. And we'll see what happens.

He also prescribed me Prometrium, a progesterone replacement, and wanted me to take it for a month. I told him I don't like taking pharmaceuticals, and he told me this was the most natural one available. I was told it would make me drowsy, and that I shoudl take it before bed so I don't fall asleep at work. I took the script with me when I left the office, but before popping any of those pills in my mouth, I planned on doing my own research and talking to my naturopath.

My mom beat me to the research and shared this piece of information with me:
"Prometrium contains peanut oil, so you should also avoid this medication if you are allergic to peanuts."

As a person with a peanut allergy (which was included on my records at the doctor's office, by the way), I'm awfully glad my mom and I thought to do the research. It pays to be an advocate for yourself; in this case, I saved myself a bad, bad reaction. I plan on calling the doctor's office tomorrow and letting them know.

And one other thing. The Gardasil vaccine, as it turns out, is not recommended for people with yeast allergies or hypersensitivities. I am allergic to yeast. I should not have been given that vaccine, and I think one reason my body responded so severely because I had an allergic reaction.

I'd like to return to my doctor's comment to me this morning:
"The thing with all those herbs," he told me, "is that you just can't be sure what's in them. You don't know what you're getting. With pharmaceuticals, they are approved and closely monitored, and you always know what you're getting."

Did I know what I was getting when I got the Gardasil vaccine, or was prescribed the peanut allergen-laden progesterone this morning? Nope.

Did I know what I was getting when I am given herbal supplements by the naturopath? You bet. The ingredients are listed on the outside of the bottle, and each time, we talk about every single one. For example, a couple months ago, just before I got my last labwork done, we added Chaste Tree Berry, a supplement that should help with hormone production. Ingredients: chaste tree berry extract, vegetable cellulose, and water. Simple. No hidden peanuts. No hidden yeast. Just the active herb and a capsule to hold it in.

My reproductive endocrinologist also told me that homeopathy and naturopathy is a bunch of hooey, and has no data to show that it works.

Apparently, my feeling better isn't enough data for him.

I'm hoping that the lab results from the blood draw today show an increase in hormone production, and can prove that this perportedly dangerous, risky herbal supplement is doing its job.  My naturopath told me it can take 3-4 months to make a big difference, and we're only at about 2 1/2.  But I trust her, and I trust this herb; I am not having side effects, I know I feel better with each week that passes, and I know I'm doing it naturally.  This isn't to say that natural is always better - herbs are very powerful. When used incorrectly or if you are allergic/sensitive to the herb being used, the reactions and complications can be just as severe as those to pharmaceuticals.  So, herbal medicines should be handled and taken with care, just like any medicine, and should be purchased from reputable brands and manufacturers.  

The bottom line?

Trust your gut. Do your research. Ask all the questions you want to ask. If you don't get the answers you want, find them yourself. Each approach to medicine has its benefits and disadvantages, and you need to work to figure out the proper balance for your condition and health situation. Because at the end of the day, you need to be your biggest health advocate.

Saturday
Jun272009

Cultured Vegetables: Pickled Kohlrabi Spears with Dill and Caraway (gluten free, raw, vegan, ACD)

I adore kohlrabi. After leaving the farmer's market with a bag full of it last week, I thought pickling some would be fun. I wanted something like dill pickles, so I cut the kohlrabi into spears/sticks, and flavored them with dill weed, dill seeds, and caraway seeds. They turned out marvelously - crisp, salty, and full of dill and caraway goodness. My dad is in town visiting this weekend, and he also gives them a big thumbs up. He was a little hesitant to try them after seeing all the carbonation and crazy foam explode from my jar when I opened it. After his first bite, however, he was quickly converted to a homemade kohlrabi pickle fan, and asked for more.

Since it is so hot, and my apartment is about 75*-80*, I let my kohlrabi sit out for about 2 1/2 days instead of 3-4. I've read that 70* is the perfect temperature for fermentation, so temps hotter or cooler than this will alter the rate at which it ferments. I think 2 1/2 days was a good choice!

As soon as my garden yields enough cucumbers, I plan on making real pickles. But until then, kohlrabi pickles will be a great substitute! I will be making these again. Nothing is easier - if you can cut vegetables, fill a jar, and let something sit on the counter for a few days, you can pickle your own vegetables.
VINEGAR FREE, LACTO-FERMENTED PICKLED KOHLRABI SPEARS WITH DILL AND CARAWAY (gluten free, raw, vegan)
yield 1 qt
2 large kohlrabi bulbs
2 T salt
many sprigs of fresh dill
1 tsp dill seed
1 tsp caraway seed
1-1 1/2 c water
  1. Wash and peel kohlrabi well, then slice into long sticks about 1/4" x 1/4". Sneak a few of them raw and enjoy how delicious and crunchy kohlrabi is!
  2. Put sticks in jar, layering with dill, dill seed, and dill weed. As you are putting them in jar, press down lightly with a wooden spoon, and continue filling until there is about 1" between kohlrabi and top of jar.
  3. Mix together salt and water, and pour over kohlrabi until covered, leaving 1" at the top. Cover tightly.
  4. Let sit out at room temperature (around 65* -70* F) for about 3 days. Temperatures hotter than this will make things ferment more quickly, cooler temps will make for slower fermentation. So, follow your intuition. Transfer to cold storage after fermenting.
  5. Can be eaten immediately, or kept for up to 8 months in the refrigerator. Gets better with age!

 

Friday
Jun262009

Lemon Balm-Apple-Kale-Cucumber Smoothie (gluten free, vegan)


When I opened my refrigerator the other day, I was greeted by an abundance of fresh herbs. My garden is thriving, and producing more herbs than I can possibly use! My tarragon and savory are both over 2 feet high. My basil plants are on track to be small bushes. And my thyme, rosemary, parsley and lemon balm are growing very nicely, yielding plenty for frequent harvests. I've been adding herbs to salads and sauces, throwing them in smoothies and soups, and adding them to cooked meats and roasted vegetables. Oh, herbs, beautiful herbs! I had never grown lemon balm before, and am really excited to try using it different ways.

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, and has been traditionally valued for its sedative, anti-spasmodic, and naturally anti-bacterial properties. It can be prepared as a tincture, an essential oil, a tea, or an injection. It used to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases as well as thyroid issues, amenorrhea, anxiety, and viral infections.

 

Since I had it, I decided to just throw the whole darn bunch right in the blender. Its light, bright hint-o-lemon flavor complimented the sweetness of the apple and cucumber, and balanced the bitterness of the kale. For an extra boost of protein, I added a blob of homemade sunflower seed butter, which added a nice, toasty flavor. As usual, I included protein powder; feel free to omit if you don't want it!


LEMON BALM-APPLE-KALE-CUCUMBER SMOOTHIE (gluten free, vegan)
1 Granny Smith apple
3-4 inch chunk cucumber, seeded
4 kale leaves
1 large handful fresh lemon balm
1 blob sunflower seed butter
1 T flax meal
1-2 scoops protein powder of choice (I use a rice-based powder)
1-3 tsp cod liver oil, flax seed oil, coconut oil, or mix
water
  1. Wash all fruits and vegetables, coarsely chop, and place in blender with additional ingredients.
  2. Blend on high until smooth.
  3. Serve!

 

Thursday
Jun252009

Quinoa Salad with Pesto, Snap Peas, and White Beans (gluten free, vegan)



I love the bounty and beauty of a summer's harvest, and the spontaneity of summer cooking.  Vegetables compliment each other in endless ways, and the joy of mixing new things together, adding whatever gems you pulled from the earth or bought at the weekend market is exhilarating.  My garden is growing - I have harvested tons herbs, lots of kale and chard, and two lovely cucumbers so far.  Soon I will have zucchini, squash, beets, and peas (I planted my peas very late).  Fresh vegetables are like toys; I love finding new ways to play with them.  

Last night I was inspired by an abundance of basil, and whipped up a batch of pesto.  Then my mind wandered to the newly picked kale, the last handfuls of sweet and crunchy snap peas from the farmer's market, and the freshly cooked quinoa cooling in my fridge.  Hmn...sounded like a salad in the making.

This salad tastes like summer and is quick and easy to prepare - perfect for those hot days when you don't feel like cooking.  The mixture of peas, beans, quinoa, kale, and garlicky basil pesto offers up a great combination of flavors and textures.  Plus, this would be a great way to use up leftover quinoa or beans, or could easily be made in larger batches if you are serving a crowd.  Simple, lovely, delicious.  I included my quick and spontaneous recipe for pesto at the bottom; it is vegan and nut free, and takes only minutes to prepare.  Easy!

If you've never used quinoa, give it a try! Quinoa is a nutritional superstar, cooks quickly, and is endlessly versatile.  Just as delicious warm as it is cold, quinoa can be used in many dishes from savory to sweet.  One of my favorite ways to use quinoa is in salads like this, because it readily absorbs the flavors of dressings, and has a chewy, delicious texture that makes a perfect base.  I love to use it in place of bulgar in tabbouli-inspired salads, add a scoop to greens salads, or mix it with a mix of finely chopped roasted and raw vegetables for an easy, throw together meal.   

One important note about quinoa is that it benefits greatly from soaking before cooking.  Before our modern convenience-based lifestyle of quick food preparation and processed foods, grains were traditionally soaked as the first step of preparation.  Soaking starts the sprouting process, which breaks down phytonutrients and also allows for easier assimilation and digestion.  Additionally, quinoa has a natural coating on the seed called saponin, which adds a bitter taste and can irritate digestion. By soaking properly, and rubbing the grains together while rinsing, this coating is removed, improving flavor and making digestion friendlier.   Try getting in the habit of soaking all your whole grains for at least 6-8 hours before cooking - while it requires a little forethought, it is worth the effort.  When I started soaking my grains, I noticed  a great difference in the way I digested them.   They didn't feel as heavy in my system, and I felt as though I was more effectively breaking down the carbohydrates. Sometimes I'll let mine soak for up to 24 hours; while this is by accident most of the time, due to poor planning and only having so many hours in the day to work, play, cook, and eat, it doesn't cause them any harm.  Just make sure to change out the water so it doesn't get swampy.  As a side benefit, soaked grains also cook more quickly than unsoaked grains, and use a little less water while cooking! 

On a totally related note, I'm having a major freak out regarding my camera and the photos for this blog.  The lighting sucks in my kitchen, and my camera is making me crabby because I want a nicer one (doesn't everybody?).  The color balance and contrast of so many of my photos has been totally whack, like this one, and there is only so much you can do to adjust the levels in Photoshop before it just starts looking weird.  I work at a photo studio for heaven's sake, and while I'm not a photographer, I'd like to think I should be putting higher quality photography into the world. So.  There's my little hissy fit.  I want to take better photos for this blog, because they ones I'm taking currently just aren't fitting my artistic vision!!!!

QUINOA SALAD WITH PESTO, SNAP PEAS, AND WHITE BEANS (gluten free, vegan)

yield: 2 servings

1 c cooked quinoa (red or white)
2 c whole snap peas
4-5 small kale leaves
3/4 c c cooked white beans (great northern, cannellini, navy, etc)
2-4 T fresh or prepared pesto (see pesto recipe below)
salt and pepper to taste
  1. If cooking quinoa fresh, soak about 1/2 c dry quinoa grains for 6-8 hours in a loosely covered bowl.  After soaking, rinse well while rubbing grains together. 
  2. To cook quinoa, place rinsed quinoa and about 1 cup water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and quinoa grains are tender but still intact.  Turn off heat, put cover back on, and let steam for about 15 minutes.  Then remove cover and let cool.  This will make more quinoa than you need for this recipe - no worries!  Leftover quinoa is awesome.  Or just make a bigger batch of salad.
  3. Wash snap peas and kale.  
  4. Steam kale until tender and bright green, about 5 minutes.  Let cool for a minute or two, then squeeze out any excess water.  Slice kale into bite size chunks.
  5. Remove ends from peas, then chop into 1/2"-1" chunks.
  6. If using canned beans, rinse well.
  7. Place cooked and cooled quinoa, kale,  snap peas, and beans in a bowl.  Drizzle with pesto and stir to coat, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, and adding more pesto if desired.
  8. Chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Serve!

NUT-FREE DAIRY-FREE BASIL PESTO (gluten free, vegan, nut free)

This recipe does not include cheese or nuts, like most traditional pestos, but still provides all the great basil flavor. I like add vitamin C crystals for a bright, acidy bite and to help preserve the bright green color of the basil.  If you tolerate citrus (I don't), feel free to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice instead.  Or, don't use either one, and just proceed without!  It will still be delicious.   Enjoy!

HINT:  I like to freeze fresh pesto in ice cube trays, then transfer cubes to a freezer bag for longer storage.  That way I can use a small quantity whenever and however I want!  Nothing is better than pulling out a cube of homemade pesto in the dead of winter, or being able to have some pesto on hand to throw into to last minute dips or sauces.   Perfect if you live alone, need to rotate your diet, make pesto in BIG batches, or have a combination of all three like me.  : )  

yield: about 1 1/2 c pesto  

3 c packed fresh basil
1 - 1 1/2 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
fresh cracked pepper
1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1-2 fresh garlic cloves (or more if you'd like!)
  1. Wash and dry the basil leaves.
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender (start with 1 c olive oil), and blend until smooth.  Add more olive as necessary to reach desired consistency.
  3. Store in a well-sealed jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage.  

Wednesday
Jun242009

Cultured Vegetables: "Red Sea" Sauerkraut, Pickled Pearl Onions, Pickled Beets (gluten free, vegan, raw, ACD)

More lacto-fermented fun!  I was so happy with my last batches of cultured veggies I had to do more.  I've been compiling this post for a while, and am finally getting around to posting it. I am following the basic proportions and techniques from Nourishing Traditions, with the exception of the whey - I haven't yet gotten around to straining out yogurt or kefir to get whey to use in the recipes, as Sally recommends in the book.  So, as suggested, I am using extra salt instead.  Next time, I'd like to try the whey and see what kind of difference, if any, it seems to make.  
I'm really pleased with how all of these turned out, and I'm excited for them all to mature and continue to get tastier and tastier.  As you can see from the photos above, and the ones that follow, I've already dug into these!  I also made more pickled brussels sprouts, this time flavored with sprigs of fresh tarragon instead of spices, and they were delicious.  For a recipe for making pickled brussels sprouts, check out this post:  Cultured Vegetables: Pickled Turnips and Beets, and Pickled Brussels Sprouts 
Enjoy!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
VINEGAR FREE, LACTO-FERMENTED "RED SEA" SAUERKRAUT (gluten free, vegan)

I call this my "Red Sea"  Sauerkraut.  Why?  Because this naturally cultured  sauerkraut is a blend of red cabbage and a trio of tasty seaweeds (wakame, hijiki, and dulse).  Together, they combine to make a vibrant red sauerkraut that is spiked with loads of nutrition from the sea and lots of good bacteria. Red cabbage and seaweed were made for each other!   Hooray for seaweed sauerkraut, more lacto-fermented fun, and corny, punny recipe names.  
While each of these sea vegetables is delicious on its own, when combined, they add fun texture and an impressive list of health benefits.  If for some reason you are a bit squeamish about introducing sea vegetables into your diet, this is an easy, tasty way to do it.  Sea vegetables offer unique nutritional benefits that are incomparable to other foods, because they absorb minerals found in the sea.  Plus, they a high amount of iodine, a mineral that is often hard to come by in many other foods.  Here are some of the fabulous things sea vegetables have to offer:
  • Lots of nutrients: iodine, vitamin K, iron, calcium, magnesium, and many other minerals
  • Good source of folate and high in fiber
  • Naturally anti-microbial and regulating to gut bacteria
  • Supports healthy thyroid function, kidneys
  • Healthy, flavorful substitute for salt in recipes
I let mine ferment for four days, and it has now been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks.    Even in that time, it has  started to smell and taste more "sauerkraut"-y.  I adjusted the recipe so it should only make 1 qt - I ended up with a 1 qt, 1 pint, and a little leftover...LOTS of sauerkraut.
"RED SEA" SAUERKRAUT RECIPE
yield: 32 oz (4 cups/1 qt) 
2 small or 1 large red cabbage, organic if possible
2 T dry wakame
2 T dry hijiki
2 T dry dulse flakes
2 T salt
  1. Wash cabbage well and remove outer leaves.  
  2. Core cabbage with a sharp knife, and thinly slice/shred cabbage, using lots of patience and that sharp knife, or a food processor. 
  3. Place wakame and hijiki in a bowl with water to rehydrate, for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Place cabbage in large bowl with salt, stir to mix, and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Squeeze cabbage with clean hands or pound with a wooden spoon/mallet until cabbage is softened and juicy.  This is an important step, don't give up!
  6. Drain and rinse seaweed.  Add to cabbage, along with dulse flakes.  Stir to mix evenly.
  7. Place a handful of cabbage in a clean, sterilized wide mouth 1 qt jar (or two 1 pint jars). Press down with your fist or a mallet firmly. Add more cabbage, press.  Continue until all the cabbage is gone or until you are about 1 inch from the top of the jar. It will be juicy and messy!
  8. Screw the top on firmly, and let sit out at room temperature for 3-4 days.  Make sure to put jars in a tray or plate to catch leaks and drips - purple rings will stain counters!
  9. After fermenting, transfer to cold storage.  
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

VINEGAR FREE, LACTO-FERMENTED PICKLED SPICED PEARL ONIONS (vegan, gluten free, raw)
I had been wanting to try pickling pearl onions, but never think to buy them; I figured I'd wait until I could get a bunch at the farmers market.  When a leftover bag of pearl onions was up for grabs after a photo shoot ended at work, I jumped at the opportunity to take them home with me.  Into the pickling jar they went!  This recipe is inspired by Sally Fallon's recipe, but I switched around the seasonings to fit with my allergies and what I had in my pantry.  I let it ferment for three days, and it is now in my fridge.  I threw a few on my salad for lunch today and they were awesome!
PICKLED PEARL ONION RECIPE

adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions

yield: 1 pint (16 oz/2 cups)
10-12 oz pearl onions
1 tsp black peppercorns
5 whole allspice berries
a few sprigs fresh tarragon
1 T salt
1/2 c water
  1. Blanch pearl onions in boiling water for about 10-20 seconds to help remove skins.  Rinse with cold water, and peel.
  2. Pack whole onions into jar with spices and tarragon, pressing down lightly.  Dissolve salt in water, and pour over onions. There should be about 1" of space between top of water/veggies and jar lid.  
  3. Close tightly, and let sit at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.  Can be eaten right away, but becomes tastier with age; will keep for up to 8 months in refrigerator.  
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

VINEGAR FREE, LACTO-FERMENTED PICKLED BEETS (vegan, gluten free)
I'm going to ramble on here for a bit about Norwegian stuff.  If you just want the recipe, page down.  If you want a story, read on.
One of things I learned in college is that I love pickled beets. My alma mater, Luther College in Decorah, IA, has a very strong Norwegian heritage.  Each Sunday one of the dining halls had a special brunch.  Whenever I went, I would inevitebly leave the buffet line with half my plate full of pickled beets rolled up in fresh lefse.  Other Scandinavian foods like pickled herring and lutefisk also found their way into our college food service kitchens - but never to my plate.   All I wanted was the pickled beets and lefse (I was a dedicated vegetarian at the time anyway).  I loved the sweet and salty beets, bitey and deep scarlet, especially when wrapped up in a fresh piece of tender lefse.   

Lefse is basically the Norwegian tortilla - a paper thin, round, flat bread of made of potato, butter, flour, and water, cooked on a griddle and flipped with a big, flat stick.  As with most traditional foods, there is a serious technique to make making good lefse.  Bad lefse - most found in grocery stores - is like pasty junk.  But good, fresh lefse melts in your mouth like nothing else on earth.  Especially if eaten warm, and spread with butter and sugar, like the old folks do.  I always liked mine spread with lingonberry jam, drizzled with maple syrup and butter, or stuffed with savory things like Swedish meatballs or sausage. Or beets. 
A cute little Norwegian woman makes fresh lefse by hand and sells it at the local co-op.  And at Nordic Fest, Decorah's annual summer festival of all things Norwegian, fresh lefse is made all day long and sold on the street.  For a couple dollars you get a huge round of lefse and have your choice of toppings. People wait in long lines for it, the way that people wait for corn dogs at normal carnivals.   Nordic Fest is really fun, if you're into Norwegian stuff - you can watch Norwegian dancing, see the parade, visit Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, participate in other fun Norwegian activites, and try a variety of other crazy Norwegian delicacies.   I remember one particularly rough Nordic Fest a few years back when I tried a little cup of rommegrot. Rommegrot is a thick, rich porridge made of wheat flour, sugar, butter, and milk, served warm with melted butter and sugar on top (I'm not kidding).   Norwegian immigrants ate rommegrot with coffee for dinner during the cold, long winters on prairie.  I'm not sure what self-destructive sort of curiosity compelled me to try it, because even then I knew it was a risky choice.  After eating my little cup  - which was delicious, I have to admit - I thought I was going to die.  Rommegrot + 95* weather + my digestive system = pure hell.  
In short, most Norwegian food is not friendly to the gluten, sugar, or dairy intolerant.  I have often wondered if  gluten free lefse would be possible, but I just don't think it is; the gluten is what MAKES the tenderness of the lefse possible.  I fear any GF replication would just be a sad, disappointing experience; I think lefse now exists in memory alone.
On the plus side, do you know what Norwegian treat is totally okay for us to eat?  Pickled beets, baby, that's what.  So let's get on with it.  Let's talk beets.  This is post about beets, not lefse or rommegrot.  I had been eyeing up Sally's Pickled Beet recipe for quite some time.  Instead of using raw vegetables like most of the other cultured veggie recipes in the book, like the recipe for Pickled Turnips and Beets (YUM!), her recipe uses roasted beets.  If you've never roasted beets, you must try it.  Roasting really concentrates the sweetness; roasted beets win over even the staunchest of anti-beet individuals.  Leave the skin on, poke them a few times, and put them in the oven.  Magic!  The skin peels right off once they are done.  Then your beets can be served up as is, used in soups, salads, or other entrees, or used for this tasty recipe.  
So, try them out.  You'll feel just like a Norwegian grandmother. They are delicious, and remarkably easy. The deep, sweet flavor of the roasted beets is accentuated with a hint of cardamom and offset by the salty pickly quality.   The water turned into a thick, salty sweet goo, and the beets are the most beautiful deep garnet color you can ever imagine. Yeah, I know that this photo doesn't look completely appetizing, but I promise you, they are good.  I let them ferment for three days, and then transferred to the fridge. In fact, as I write this, I am enjoying them in a salad with romaine, fresh snap peas, amaranth, fresh dill, and a drizzle of olive oil and kefir.  It is delicious.  And the beets keep getting better each time I eat them!
PICKLED BEETS RECIPE
adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions

yield: 1 quart (32 oz/4 c)
12 medium beets (I used about 4 large beets)
seeds from 3 cardamom pods
2 T salt
1 c water

  1. Prick beets in several places, place on a cookie sheet or in a large roasting pan.  Sally's recipe calls for baking at 300º for about 3 hours, or until soft. I didn't have that kind of time - I baked at 425* for about an hour, with tin foil over the pan.  
  2. Once beets are soft, let cool slightly. Peel (run under cold water, and skins come right off!), and cut into a ¼-inch julienne. (Do not grate or cut beets with a food processor—this releases too much juice and the fermentation process will proceed too quickly, so that it favors formation of alcohol rather than lactic-acid.) 
  3. Place beets in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down lightly with a wooden pounder or meat hammer. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over beets, adding more water if necessary to cover the beets. The top of the beets should be at least 1” below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.