I have self-diagnosed myself to be mildly gluten intolerant. Or, yeast intolerant.
I don't know which. Whenever I eat yeasted bread I suffer through a few days of feeling 'fat', read bloated. Sourdough seems to be fine. But, even then, if I go mad on eating sourdough, my system gets cross. Yet, I am able to handle cakes, biscuits and other stuff. Obviously, I rarely overload on those. So, perhaps, it has to do with the quantity of gluten consumption compounded by the presence of yeast. Incidentally, beer, other than stout, does not sit well with me either. But, I abjectly did not want to think about it because I LOVE bread!
My friend recently convinced me to try an elimination diet. So, for the last nearly 3 weeks I have removed all bread, most gluten products (save the occasional croissant or brownie, ok 4 in all this time!) and lentils (which, also I consumed a fair bit). If you follow my
feed, lately you would have seen more gluten free stuff on it and this is the reason.
I have to say, I feel like an idiot for not doing this sooner. Because, I feel great. Possibly a touch more tired from the reduced intake of carbs that are a major source of energy and I burn a lot of it naturally. But, as far as the gut is concerned, I have not had a single incident, while in the past I would spend at least a couple of nights not feeling the greatest. Since, I am learning to listen to my body and naturally understand what works, this is going to be a slow process. Besides, I eliminated several items at the same time viz. lentils and gluten. So, I still have to break down which one is culprit within those two grain categories.
At the same time, I added a few positive influences. While, I surprised myself in not actually craving bread (I love the damn thing! That is how I got into this mess, in the first place), there is a functional aspect of bread, that as a carrying medium. I found a recipe for a gluten free bread and played with it and I think I have
+ snack made entirely without yeast or flour. I also switched to eating a more vegetarian lifestyle with a fair dose of fish. One, it works because I want lighter meals with the warmer weather. But, more importantly, I think for the first time in 10 years, that is since I left India, I am eating in a way close to how I ate growing up.
I, as we all do, have a certain eating history. But, when we are exposed to newer foods and lose access to several old ones, things tend go for a tumble. Especially, when living in vastly different countries. I have tweaked, ignored, experimented with my system as I discovered newer and more exciting foods. Some of it was utter crap and some was good to taste but did not work so great for me. To wit, I did not grow up with a lot of meat or yeasted food. So, my system simply is not capable of being constantly overloaded with them. That's it. I have to respect that and work with it. I can cajole it with a few fun outings and it will happily oblige but if I run amok then, understandably, it takes offense.
Incidentally, I did eat a fair bit of lentils growing up. So, that should be fine. But, I have been making a classic error in working with dry lentils. I very often do not soak them for a few hours. I have recently realized that this is imperative for several reasons. Soaking removes the outer coating of the grain which carries a certain protein related to albumin that some people are allergic too. Equally important, if you have any form digestive system disorder, this step is mandatory to enable the release of enzymes that will enable the digestive process. Skipping this step basically short circuits the process and the poor gut is left without help to break them down which is not an easy task and in the process releases a lot of gas. If you have neither issue, then you can possibly get away without soaking lentils but is definitely recommended.
Today, I am sharing a simple vegetarian and gluten free recipe that is supremely tasty and incredibly satisfying. I added a feta for added filling and flavor but if you want to go vegan you can easily substitute with tofu.
Millet and Collard Green Enchiladas
8-10 young collard green stalks
3/4 cup millet
1 cup vegetable stock
1/3 cup of crumbled feta
For the sauce
1 red onion, diced fine
2 carrots, diced into half inch cubes
3 cloves of garlic
3 ripe tomatoes diced
1/2 cup stock
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt, pepper and oil as needed
Preheat oven to 350F.
The collard greens will be used as the enchilada shells. To prepare them, run a knife on either side of the center stem and remove it. Gently steam the leaves for about 5 minutes until they are soft and pliable. Set aside.
Using a powerful blender (I use Vitamix) process the millet into a coarse-fine grind. Close to a polenta or grits texture. In a small pot, bring the stock to boil. Add about a teaspoon of salt and some oil to the liquid. Whisk the stock and as you are whisking slowly stream in the ground millet. This will prevent lumps from forming. Once all the millet is added, cover and cook to a near porridge consistency. Remove from heat and set aside. Do not overcook as the millet will thicken as it cools. If that happens, put it back on the stove with a little more liquid and a touch of olive oil to loosen it.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat some oil and sauté onion, garlic and carrots until soft. Season with salt, pepper and the paprika. Add the tomatoes and stock and cook for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened a little. Spread a few of tablespoons of the sauce evenly at the base of a baking pan, large enough to hold all the enchiladas, to prevent enchiladas from sticking
To make the enchiladas, flatten each leaf of green overlap at the cut seam. Spread a little of the cooked millet on the leaves, then spread a couple of teaspoons of the sauce. Sprinkle some feta or tofu on top. Gently roll the leaves to encase the filling and place them in the prepared pan seam side down. Repeat with the other leaves. If you have any left over steamed leaves, simply chop them and add to the sauce.
Pour the remaining sauce over the stuffed greens and bake for 20-25 minutes. You can serve immediately or refrigerate for later. It will stay in the fridge for 4 days or freeze for a month.
This is a great dish for parties, or making in large quantities and freezing for later!