Roasted Lemon Chicken (gluten free)

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In honor of my mom’s birthday, I made roasted lemon chicken for dinner (it’s one of my “fancy dinner” options when it comes to Kelsey-safe recipes).  The best part about roasting a chicken is that the Mr. Man and I easily get a dinner, two lunches, and a soup out of it.  I’m planning on making chicken stock from scratch a little later today.  How do you use up chicken leftovers?

Ingredients: 

  • Whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary (or 4 sprigs)
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  • two medium yellow onions
  • A couple potatoes, celery, and carrots (optional)

Direction: 

  1. Rinse chicken (inside and out) and remove giblets and liver, and pat dry.  Then, trim excess fat from around the cavity.  Let sit at room temperature for an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 450.
  3. Cut the onions into 1/2 inch thick, round slices.  Lay onions in two rows in the middle of the roasting pan (the onions should all rest on the lower onion — it’ll look like onion dominoes that fell over).  Make sure the rows of onions right next to each other; place chicken on top of onions.
  4. Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper (freshly ground is nice) inside the chicken cavity.  Then, stuff garlic cloves and rosemary in the cavity, too.  Roll lemon firmly against the counter with your hand. Afterwards, use a fork to poke holes all around the lemon and then place it inside of the chicken cavity.
  5. Tie legs together with twine (optional). Rub outside of chicken with olive oil.  Sprinkle chicken with rosemary and salt and paper (optional).
  6. If you want extra veggies, cut up cleaned potatoes, celery, and carrots and put them around the chicken (you’ll want to put a little bit of olive oil on the veggies so that they don’t get to dry, and sprinkle with seasonings of your choice).
  7. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes (you’ll want the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh to be 165 degrees).
  8. Let it rest for about ten minutes before serving (this keeps all the juices from coming out, which means your chicken will be more moist).

Sausage Veggie Hash (GF & Allergen-Free)

Sausage Veggie Hash

The Mickey Mouse apron is courtesy of my in-laws who brought it back from Disney World.

The hubby and I (yep, all married now!) have been experimenting with breakfast options.  Due to my various food foes (namely gluten and dairy), breakfast is a tricky meal but hash seems to be working out quite nicely for relaxing Saturday mornings.  We’ve tried a couple different types now, which I’ll have to post later.  This one is the slightly modified version of Sausage Veggie Hash from Tammy Credicott’s cookbook The Healthy Gluten-Free Life: 200 Delicious Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-free & Egg-Free Recipes.  Tammy likes to cook with coconut oil and, since I’m allergic, I swapped it for olive oil.  I also used red potatoes just because I liked them and it’s what we had on hand.

I like how easy this recipe is because it won’t take too long to put together in the mornings (or at any other time of the day).

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage (I used GF chicken sausage)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 red potatoes, diced (or 2 regular potatoes)
  • 3 medium zucchinis (sliced and quartered)
  • 1 medium sized avocado

Directions:  

  1. Heat olive oil up in a skillet.  Then, add breakfast sausage and cook until it’s no longer pink.  Remove the sausage from the skillet and put it off to the side.
  2. Cook diced onions in the skillet for a minute.
  3. Add potatoes. Cook until tender and brown (you’ll want to cook it on a lower setting so that it doesn’t  burn).
  4. Add zucchini, and cook for a couple of minutes until softened.
  5. Mix the sausage in.
  6. Serve hash in a bowl with slices of avocado on top.

Lemon-Mustard Chicken (gluten & allergen free)

This recipe is based on the Lemon-Mustard Chicken recipe from the retro-pink (breast-cancer addition) Better Homes and Gardens© cookbook that’s sitting on my shelf, pages stained with brownies and pancakes.  Much like the velveteen rabbit, it’s on its way to becoming real.  This cookbook has pretty much taught me how to cook because, even though it never mentions food allergies or celiac disease even once, I’ve learned how to modify recipes and I’ve gained a best grasp of some of  technical jargon in cookbooks that used to scare me.  I’m still learning how to cook and it’s still proving to have some pretty tasty recipes between its covers; a pretty good combination.  

The original recipe calls for removing the skin (something I couldn’t bring myself to do, which meant I had to be careful not to charcoal the skin but it turned out nice and crispy). 

The original recipe also only makes just enough sauce to cover the chicken lightly but I wanted to have enough lemon-mustard mix leftover in the pan once the chicken was done to use as a sauce on my basmati rice, which tasted pretty darn good if I do say so myself.  If you’re not planning on using the drippings/lemon-mustard mixture for a sauce, just cut all of the ingredients (besides the chicken) in half.  Easy peasy.


Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 to 3 pounds Chicken (drumsticks, breast halves, or thighs)
  • 5 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano or basil (crushed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Directions:

  1. Broil chicken about 5 inches from heat on high for about 15 minutes on each side. 
  2. While the chicken is cooking, stir oil, mustard, lemon juice, lemon-pepper seasoning, oregano/basil, and ground red pepper together in a small bowl.
  3. Brush mix onto one side of the chicken.
  4. Meanwhile, lower the baking rack back to the middle of the oven and turn the oven’s temperature to 400 degrees.
  5. Bake chicken for 10 minutes.  Then, take chicken out, coat the other side with the mustard mixture, and bake chicken again for another 10 minutes.  Or until chicken is no longer pink (turn the heat down on the oven if you’re afraid the skin will burn). 
  6. Serve chicken with basmati rice, cooked veggies, or salad.  And enjoy.

Gluten-Free 101: What is Gluten Anyway?

Are you feeling confused by all the “gluten-free” labels popping up on everything from cereal boxes to sandwich meat?  Do you think celiac disease is an allergy to gluten?  Are you unsure whether it’s all a big hoax or maybe just a new celebrity fad diet?  Unsure what gluten even is?  Well, my friend, this informative yet entertaining little video is just what you need!

I kind of wish he would’ve gone into a bit more detail about what it feels like to get glutened when you have celiac disease: I end up in bed for a couple of days, miss work and school, and have the worse stomach pains I’ve ever had in my life.  And it takes a good week before I can eat normally again (I have to eat super soft gentle foods) and about two weeks (sometimes closer to three) before my stomach completely stops hurting after eating or drinking (water is the worse, it hurts so much).  And all of that drama and pain can happen if I were to just pick croutons out of my salad. 

But I suppose going into all of that would’ve made for a much longer video.  Check it out.  And let me know what you think. Smile


What to know more about living gluten-free?  Check out these posts:

How I Was Kicked out of College Because of My Anaphylaxis

13094044-peanuts--peanut-butterThe office of Disability Support  Services (DSS) at the University of Washington Tacoma extension campus considered my anaphylactic airborne reaction to peanuts to be so serious that it was documented disability.  I didn’t have to eat or even touch peanuts for my throat to start closing up; my life would be in danger if a classmate so much as ate a peanut-y treat during lecture.  This meant going to school was risky—very risky.  And I knew that better than anyone.  But I thought I had support.

Reasonable Accommodations

Despite the risks, I didn’t ask the University of Washington to ban peanuts from the campus or require all of the security staff to be trained on how to use an Epi-Pen (although, both would have made me much safer).  Instead, I worked with the DSS office to figure out what my reasonable accommodations were: visible “peanut-free” signs on my classroom doors to remind students, teachers would be contacted by DSS so they’d know to enforce the policy, and an email was sent out at the beginning of each quarter alerting everyone who’d be in my classrooms that quarter not to eat peanuts in those rooms.

The game plan wasn’t perfect, and I knew my “peanut-free” signs wouldn’t truly prevent a rule-breaker from eating their Reese’s snack in my classroom.  Because the university is an urban campus (right in the heart of the fun, artsy section of the city), it doesn’t have a cafeteria, so people eat pretty much everywhere.  This is dangerous for me.  There also aren’t rules about eating in classrooms.  Extra dangerous.  While my accommodations may not have been perfect, having support from my university made the difference between whether or not I could attend the school.

Food in the Library

This quarter (Spring 2013) the food policy in the library buildings changed to allow food, so it became very challenging for me to find anywhere relatively safe to study, work on a group project, or eat my own lunch.  And I’d completely lost access to the tutoring center, computers and printers in the library and the books (how do you go to college and not have access to the books?).  I was told the policy was just a “pilot program”; something that could be changed if the library received enough complaints.  So I tried to alert people in charge at the library to the fact that I was experiencing an access issue, and also a safety issue, to due to my disability.

The director in charge of the library was concerned, contacted the DSS office, and decided to return to the original food policy—no food in the library buildings.  The school Chancellor (the school president, the woman in charge) then got involved, and told the library that they wouldn’t be changing the policy back; the “pilot” was now the rule.

This left me without anywhere relatively safe to study on campus.  And I still couldn’t access the library tutors, librarians, computers and printers, or the books.

And Then Everything Got Worse

At this same time, and of course right at midterms, the Chancellor also took away my official disability accommodations.  Completely.  No signs, no support, nothing.

Due to the signage, the DSS office was told that my disability was a “facility issue” now because it impacted the building and, therefore, was no longer under their jurisdiction.  Despite still having a life-threatening documented disability (whether it was a disability or not was never in question), I was left high and dry.

I’d basically been identified by the school Chancellor as a possible liability.  The way she put it was that she didn’t want “peanut-free” signs because that wasn’t a “promise” she could keep.  In other words, the school couldn’t guarantee my safety and didn’t want to get slapped with a lawsuit if I ended up in the ER or died; therefore, they’d do nothing.  No signs.  No accommodations through DSS.  This meant forbidding the library director from returning the library buildings to being food-free and taking away my disability accommodations completely.

My anaphylaxis had become a weapon—a way to scare me off of campus.

You’ve Got to be Kidding Me

I met with the university Chancellor and one of the members of student government last week to discuss the situation; she made it very clear that she didn’t think I should be at the school at all, or at any of UW’s other campuses.  And that I was just a liability as far as she was concerned.

After our meeting I’d thought there’d been enough compromise to at least keep me in school until the end of the quarter, but I didn’t think I’d be able to return in the fall for my senior year.  But our “compromise” turned out to be all talk.

The Chancellor had told me that I could no longer get my accommodations through DSS and, when it came to handling my disability, I would only have access to her office from now on (something I don’t think she was at all legally allowed to do).  I had been removed completely from DSS’s charge and paced fully under the Chancellor, who is neither an official DSS worker nor an allergist.  As a result, she said that her office would make me signs—better signs even, more professional looking.

Well, they did make me signs.  But they were a joke.  They weren’t on the classroom doors—where they needed to be to remind students and staff.  And they weren’t at all visible.  The signs looked like they’d just printed something directly out of Word—12 point font, Times New Roman, black ink on a white piece of paper.  Completely invisible.

The signs were also hidden; one was at the very front of the classroom next to another sign (ironically the statement about how school doesn’t discriminate based on things like disabilities) and stuck on the wall with blue painters tape (yup, that’s professional looking).  The other sign was lost on a cluttered bulletin board in the back of the class; it took me and a friend hunting before we were finally able to find it.

I didn’t want signs just for the sake of having signs; I needed visible reminders to my classmates and instructors that would help keep me safer.

I was also promised an unofficial “office” with a key, so that I could determine who went into it.  I was given a key … but not to the “office.”  The key unlocked an entire wing where the adjuncts’ offices were.  My little room was the only one with a printer and computer, so if anyone needed to print something they’d go into my office.  And because I didn’t have a key to keep them out (or even a sign on the door saying that it was being used), there was no way for me to keep the room safer than any other faculty-only area on campus.  And the office didn’t even had a window, so I wouldn’t have even been able to air it out if there was ever a problem.

Saying Goodbye to My Academic Dreams

Without even a little support from my previously extremely helpful school and no access to the Disability Support Services office thanks to the Chancellor telling them that they could no longer work with me, I was basically barred from the university because of my disability.  It was unsafe for me to attend my classes, or even go to school to take my midterms.  And my school had made it clear that they weren’t even going to assist in helping to protect my life, so I had to drop my classes.  And my program of study (the only one of its kind in the area, my dream degree).  And left the University of Washington Tacoma completely.

I would’ve been a third-generation Husky alumni when I graduate; my grandpa and mom were so excited for me.  Now, because my degree was so specific, I’ll have to start back over with 200-level course requirements, which will likely add at least another year, if not two, to my prospective graduation date.  And I have to transfer to another university when I’d wanted to finish not only my BA at my school but also do my grad work at UW Tacoma.  I now wonder if I’ll ever even finish my four-year-degree let alone grad school.  My transcript was beautiful—high honors all around—now I’ll have to explain to future prospective schools why I got all “W’s” (withdrawn) this quarter.

My university decided I was a liability, so I was essentially kicked out of school.  And then left with the bill.  Literally, thousands of dollars in financial aid, student loans, and academic scholarships for a quarter I wasn’t able to complete through no fault of my own.

What’s frustrating is how many staff made sad puppy dog eyes at me, but never did anything because they were afraid.  They were using words like “illegal” and “a violation of your civil rights” and “discrimination based on your disability,” which I feel like should’ve been a call to arms.  But the best I got was pouty faces.

Life has completely turned on ear, I have no idea what this means for me now, and I’m still in shock.

[Update 6/4/2013: Still trying to figure out the whole financial thing.  I’ve been sent a bill for this quarter and until I pay the whole thing in full the university won’t release my transcript, which makes even applying to another school out of the question until that’s figured out.

For those of you who are wondering, I will absolutely be finishing my BA, no need to worry, but my graduation date will be about a year or two farther off than originally expected.  And my diploma will have the insignia of a different university, which after all this I’m honestly not too worked up about.  One possible option at the moment is finishing the last year and a half of my BA online through my former state university’s rival school, Washington State University, which I feel like would add a bit of poetic justice to a very unfortunate, frustrating situation.  I’m all for a bit of irony.]

Allergy Baby’s First Word

food-allergies_thumbYesterday afternoon—a notable day because for the first time in, well, a while Seattle was the hottest major city in the country, the poor little Washingtonians weren’t quite sure how to handle all that foreign sunshine—was spent catching up with my friend Aubrey.  She told me about her retro-themed wedding, their hippie landlords, gardening, and eating gluten-free (something we both share).  I tried to convince her to start a crunchy, foodie-ish blog.  Even promised to comment.  But we’ll see what happens.

Anyway, the story that stood out to me the most as we got caught up was about a little baby Aubrey knows. 

He’s a year old now but when he was only a couple of months old he had food allergy testing done because he’d been having some unusual skin irritation and general health oddities.  The poor little guy came up with 10 food allergies (exactly how many new ones I found out about when I had testing done back in September). 

Aubrey showed me a picture on her phone of Allergy Baby’s back after the testing—so many bright red, itching-looking bumps from where he’d reacted to the test.  Poor little guy.  I remember exactly what that feels like; at least I was big enough though to understand what was happening.

His first word was even … drumroll please … allergic.  As in, “No, baby you can’t have [insert yummy-looking food].” 

“Allergic?”

“Yes, allergic.”

In his little mind allergic might just be a shorthand for “not for babies” or “not for you,” but soon enough he’ll know how in addition to being disappointing the word can also be frustrating, annoying, and even scary.  I hope he also learns though how to stand up for himself and keep himself safe even when people think he’s just being dramatic or weird, to not be embarrassed about being the only allergic kid and to define himself apart from his allergies, and that a limited diet—and all of the other limitations food allergies impose on him—doesn’t mean he can’t live a full, satisfying life.   

What would you want someone new to the allergic life to know?

Allergic Girl is Getting Married!

302570_2510820009289_356814861_nThis picture was taken in September 2011 while on a vacation to Disneyland with Mr. Munger and his family (we’re on the Dumbo ride).  We’d just gotten engaged a few weeks before and were feeling pretty darn happy. 

Mr. Munger was still attending Western Washington University at the time, so we knew it’d be a while before we were finally able to tie the knot but it was a nice change to say “when” instead of “if.” (Although, the fact that our families had already transitioned to “when” makes me fairly confident our engagement didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.)

Well, Mr. Munger graduated in December 2012, got himself all employed, and we just recently set the date for last August! 

The wedding will be simple and safe (safety is an important consideration when you live with food allergies, and I also don’t want to get glutened on my wedding day).  Just immediate family and my grandparents (a whopping twelve people total).  It’ll be at a local park by the water since hopefully the weather will be nice, but you can never be sure you’ll get sunshine in the Seattle area so we’ll also bring umbrellas, sweaters if it looks chilly, and we’re renting a picnic shelter.  The ceremony itself will only last a couple of minutes, and then the family picnic will carry on (if you’re feeling curious, check out the Pinterest board!).  

While it’s fun to finally know when exactly we’re getting married and be able to start buying things like red and white gingham table clothes, what I’m really enjoying is planning out how we’ll decorate our apartment (and, yes, there’s a Pinterest board for that, too).  It’ll be so fun to go buy a kitchen table and dishware.  Exciting!

Only four months and six days until I get married.  Not that I’m counting, of course.

What to Never Say to Someone with Allergies

PeanutsAfter informing me how she’d forgotten about my peanut allergy and had almost brought peanuts to class (despite the fact that DSS has plastered the door and front of the classroom with peanut-free signs on my behalf), the student next to me proceeded to tell me a terrifying story.  A teenage girl she’d known of had died at prom as a result of a peanut allergy.

The story came to a jarringly conclusion with something to the effect of: “Her family looked frantically for her Epi-Pen and, when they couldn’t find it, decided to take her to the ER. But she was already dead.”

Holy crap! How does someone forget about their classmate’s life-threatening airborne peanut allergy when they know of someone who has died from one? Ugh.

And before you worry, yes, I always carry my Epi-Pen.  My sister Shannon, who will be the maid of honor at my August wedding, has been given the extremely important task of carrying my Benadryl and Epi-Pen on her person.  The only thing that’d be scarier than having to use my Epi-Pen at my wedding would be not having my Epi-Pen if I needed it.

I still can’t believe someone felt the need to tell me a death-by-peanuts story.  I spend my life running in fear of peanuts, not because they’ll make me feel yucky (although they certainly do a great job of that) but because I could die.  I could be anywhere—strolling through a local park, enjoying the ballet, or studying in the university library—when I hear the frightening hushed crinkle of a wrapper opening.  If it’s peanuts, I go into crisis mode and get out of there ASAP.  If my throat starts to close up and I start gagging, which almost always happens if I’m that close to peanuts, I remind myself to be calm and handle things careful and quickly because, otherwise, I could die.  Dying from peanuts is a regular, realistic nightmare; I don’t need to be reminded of it.

After the traumatic story was over, I made my way outside only to run into three separate students chowing down on a PB & J.  I almost cried.

Please, for the sake of those of us with life-threatening allergies, don’t eat peanuts in public.


Other Articles of Interest:

A Year in the Life of a Food Blogger

New YearsBreak started off at such a brisk pace I’d expected it to be full (maybe too full) with get-togethers, holiday-related outings, and attempting new recipes.

Well, that’s what I’d thought it’d be like.  But then everyone came down with the flu right over Christmas.  Thankfully, family was flexible and presents keep, because the festivities had to be put on hold for a couple of days this year.  And that’s the long-ish explanation as to where I’ve been.

Now that I’m feeling quite a bit better (managing to eat solid food providing it’s mild and relatively soft), I’ve been thinking about what a lot has happened in the last year.  And how quickly it’s gone by!  The Crunchy Cook was my new years resolution from last year (this was when I  had a very small handful of food foes), which means my blog is almost exactly a year old.


Biggest Changes:
1. Discovered I have 10 additional food allergies (including eggs, soy, dairy).  This was a HUGE challenge that impacted my entire family.  And it’s still something I’m learning how to work with.

2. Graduated from community college with a two-year transfer degree.

3. Completed my first quarter at the University of Washington (I swear, it’s not nearly as hard as figuring out how to cook with food allergies).

Favorite Foodie Reads:
1. Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found Food that Loves Me Back … And How You Can Too by Shauna James Ahern.  I found this book very encouraging.

I don’t know that I’d love it quite as much now that I can’t eat the majority of food mentioned, but Shauna’s advice to use food restrictions as a reason to say “Yes!” to foods you’ve never tried has been very helpful in my own food journey.  And a good reminder that there is still a world of flavors out there waiting to be tasted.  Even for allergy girls like me.

Firsts:
1. Started my food blog, The Crunchy Cook.

2. Went on a cruise and was actually able to eat (I got to hand it to Disney, they sure do handle dietary restrictions well).

3. Took a junior-level class at the university (it was awesome, and also not nearly as mentally challenging as figuring out what to cook for dinner when you have a whole collection of food allergies).

Goals/Hopes for 2013:
1. Learn to cook more gluten-free/allergen-free food.  I’m hoping to attempt a new recipe every weekend (not all of them will show up on the blog because not everything will work, but it’ll get me in the habit of trying out new things and being fearless in the kitchen).

2. Blog more regularly about the food I’m learning to cook; I want to have a record of all the recipes that have worked.  And just generally what it’s like being gluten-free/allergen-free.  I’m new to the blogging community, but loving it already.

3. Finally be able to set the date for the wedding (fingers crossed!).

Well, what about you?  What are your goals, hopes, or resolutions for the coming year?  Anything you’re hoping to learn or cook?

My Allergen-Free/Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Yes, I know it’s now December and this is no longer seasonally fitting to talk about Thanksgiving.  I’d planned on showing off pictures of my Thanksgiving feast sooner, but the combination of coming down with a cold that just didn’t want to go away and attempting to get back into school mode enough to finish out the quarter meant that blogging has taken a backseat the last couple of weeks.  Thanksgiving was great though, so it at least deserves a quick mention.

My immediate family—mom (several allergies), sister (gluten-free and multiple allergies), and brother (practically vegan and also a couple of food allergies of his own)—is, needless to say, pretty gosh darn hard to feed.  And with the addition of my 10 newest food allergies, we weren’t sure how we were going to work out Thanksgiving.  Not to mention, the extended family has never really understood allergies (they’re getting better) but having a meal at their house felt like I would’ve been risking a trip to the ER.  

Thankfully, Mr. Munger’s parents invited us over for dinner.  This meant that there were more heads trying to figure out what would be Kelsey-safe and less food for any one person to make.  And it worked out great.  

What I had for dinner: turkey, cranberry sauce, peas with onions, stuffing (my future mother-in-law actually found gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free/soy-free bread!), smashed red potatoes, sweet potatoes, pickles, and even rolls (made by yours truly).

I’ll try and get the roll and cranberry recipes to you soon because they turned out great.  And the cranberries are super easy to make! 

So how was your Thanksgiving?  Any tips for working around food allergies this holiday season or figuring out how to explain your dietary restrictions to the people you’ll be celebrating with?