I don't talk about my personal health issues on this blog all that often, but I've decided to today. And I'm doing it for two reasons:
1.) To shamelessly promote my new article on News Hub about living with chronic illness
2.) To talk about a new recipe I've been trying out
In the interests of transparency, I'll admit that my health issues are all undiagnosed. In fact, I've never spoken with a doctor about any of them. But my mother has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia for years, and I've had many of the same symptoms that she suffers with (some even as far back as when I was ten years old).
I've also had many of the symptoms that she doesn't experience. That's the trouble with a condition like Fibro -- it comes with a list of 50+ symptoms.
Anyway, I'm getting off course.
It's been suggested that people with fibro may also have gluten sensitivities or intolerances, so they're urged to cut gluten from their diet. This isn't always easy, considering that gluten is in nearly every bread or pasta product imaginable. Thankfully many places are developing gluten-free options, though they're typically more expensive.
About a month ago, I decided to cut gluten from my own diet to see if I noticed any changes in how I felt. Unfortunately, I didn't. What I did notice, however, was a renewed love of cooking and trying new recipes. I've always loved to cook, but when my illness flares up, sometimes I don't have the energy for it. Thus, I've been relying on a lot of easy meal options lately. That meant a lot of pizza, frozen burritos, and stew that I could quickly mix up and throw in the oven. In other words, a lot of meals that contained gluten-heavy ingredients.
This month, I've adapted my meal options, but managed to find choices that were still relatively simple, so even on bad days I could still eat well.
These days, there are numerous options to make going gluten-free easier. Some options are hard to come by if you live in a small town like I do, but even then there are still options. There's a market just outside of town that sells a wide variety of gluten-free products, from flour to pasta to bread. And even my local Wal-Mart offers gluten-free pasta and bread (though the bread isn't all that palatable unless you drown it in something).
I've also discovered a new dish that doesn't require any gluten or specifically-gluten-free ingredients, and it's one of my favourite options for the sheer simplicity.
It was inspired by a conversation I had with my fiancee about burritos. When she explained the ingredients that went into these burritos, I started thinking of what I had on hand that I could use to make something similar. Here's what I ended up with:
- Corn Tortillas (the soft ones, not the hard ones)
- Black Beans
- Canned Tomatoes
- Cheese (I had American on hand, but most any cheese would work)
Use the sauce from the can of tomatoes to add liquid to the bottom of a baking dish, then layer in the ingredients. Start with the tortillas, and lay out one even layer in the bottom of your baking dish, tearing the tortillas if necessary for even coverage. (This doesn’t have to be 100% precise -- a little overlap is okay. Just try to avoid empty space.)
Layer the rest of the ingredients as follows: rice, beans, cheese. This step is dependent upon personal taste in regard to how much of each ingredient to add. I added more rice and less beans, but you could do the reverse, or make it even. Doesn’t really matter either way, so do it how you like.
Add a second tortilla layer, and follow the previous steps again, and top the dish with the tomatoes. The first time I made it, I also had some salt&pepper chicken on hand, but in subsequent times, I didn't. The dish is great either way.
I also added some hot sauce and garlic powder to the rice for a bit of flavour, but you can leave it plain or add other seasonings if you prefer.
This dish requires very little baking time, if you start with pre-cooked ingredients like I did (I had beans and rice ready from earlier in the day). It just needs time to heat, melt the cheese, and let the tortillas soak up the liquid in the bottom of the pan. I baked mine for about 20-30 minutes.
The great thing about this recipe is that it can be modified to suit personal preference. The type of rice or bean can be changed, you can add or take away ingredients or seasonings. It’s pretty versatile, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
I'm not sure if this should be called a burrito, an enchilada, or something else entirely. All I know is it's simple and delicious, and will be a staple in my house whether I'm specifically trying to stay gluten free or not.