Thursday, April 24, 2014

Get Busy Living

Easter 2014
In the relatively brief span of time between our engagement and our marriage—we got engaged in July and married in November a little over 10 years ago—Kelli and I went to premarital counseling. Not because we believed we needed it, but because it was standard operating procedure for the pastor who would perform our wedding ceremony (and a mandatory prerequisite as far as he was concerned, otherwise we could find another officiant!).

All these years later, I do remember at least one thing he told us then: as far as personal stress and healthy interpersonal relationships are concerned, especially in the context of a couple, people can (or perhaps, should) only handle one major life change at a time—a marriage, or a new job, or moving to another state, or having a child. If you start to piggyback those things, the stress level has the potential to elevate exponentially.

I don't know whether I agree with that advice, but I do know we're not very good at following it. We got married, Kelli changed jobs, and we moved from NY to CO, all within the span of a single year. Later, we wrote our first cookbook and had our second child at the same time. Two years after that, we began work on our second cookbook and meanwhile, had our second child, I changed jobs, and we moved back to NY from CO during the process. And most recently, we moved (again) from NY to CO, bought a house, I (again) changed jobs, and we had our third child, all in the midst of writing our most recent cookbook, which comes out later this year.

I'm reminded of that famous scene from the movie Shawshank Redemption in which Tim Robbins' character Andy Dufresne talks about how you can "get busy living, or get busy dying." We make a chronic habit, it seems, of not only getting busy living, but keeping ourselves mighty busy while we're at it.

This year is shaping up to be another busy one. We of course had Timothy's arrival, and all the joy and difficult parenting decisions that go along with it. Gluten-Free Family Favorites comes out later this summer. I have a more ambitious ultra-endurance racing schedule than ever before, including my first 100-mile ultramarathon. And we'll be doing a lot of travel to gluten-free expos around the country, starting with Living Without's Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in San Diego, CA, May 3–4.

No matter how busy life gets, though, there are some things that are non-negotiable, about which we will not make sacrifices. One of those is taking the time to cook and enjoy from-scratch meals together as a family, whether mock cake for Easter, Kelli and the girls whipping up a batch of cookies mid-week, or having the kids help me do the sauce, cheese, herbs, and toppings on our family's weekly Sunday pizza dinner.

We may get busy living, but we try hard to make sure we also get busy cooking and spending time together. We'll see how we strike that balance as the year unfolds...


P.S. We're giving away two free weekend passes to the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in San Diego! Come visit us over on Facebook and Twitter for chances to win!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Moral Imperative to Introduce Gluten to Infants?

Timothy, the most recent addition to our gluten-free nuclear family, is now 3.5 months old. It seems like just yesterday that we wrote on this blog about his arrival. Already he's changed and grown in dramatic ways and enriched our lives and our family immeasurably. But as he approaches his fourth month of life, Timothy also brings us face to face with a difficult decision as a gluten-free family and household: do we have a moral imperative to introduce him to gluten?

One of the most exciting and interesting areas of celiac disease research over the past decade has been the progress made identifying the risk factors for developing active disease. We don't yet know all the minutiae of every causal factor, but researchers have uncovered and confirmed some profound correlations. One in particular has us thinking hard: the timing of first introduction of gluten significantly influences an at-risk infant's likelihood of developing celiac disease later in life.

In particular, introducing gluten either too early or too late causes celiac disease rates to skyrocket. If gluten is introduced at age 3 months or younger or at age 7 months or later, a child's chance of developing celiac disease spikes big time. However, there is a magic window, between 4 and 6 months, during which first introduction to dietary gluten is associated with a much diminished chance of developing celiac disease.

We're talking major differences in risk—three-, four-, and even five-fold increases in risk for celiac disease. This has been shown in study after study, such as these from 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2013 (an excellent overarching survey from 2010 of many of these studies and some others can be found here). All of the research is intriguing, but the latter two studies from 2009 and 2013 are especially fascinating. They look at a celiac disease epidemic that hit children in Sweden born between the years 1984 and 1996. Prior to the epidemic, celiac disease rates were stable. Starting in 1984, however, a change in the Swedish approach to infant nutrition saw gluten introduced later (well after the 6th month) and celiac disease rates tripled to quadrupled. When Swedish pediatric recommendations returned to introducing dietary gluten during the magic 4–6 month window after 1996, celiac disease rates returned to their long-term pre-1984 lower levels.

As for Timothy, it's the delayed introduction to gluten that causes us concern. I have celiac disease. Both of our girls test positive for the celiac genes but (so far) negative for active celiac disease. And though we haven't tested Timothy's genetics, we can say with pretty good certainty that he's in the at-risk group for celiac disease. Which leaves us with a difficult quandary: as a gluten-free household and family, do we go to very deliberate lengths to introduce him to gluten for the first time—if at all, and then potentially ongoing if yes—during the magic window in order to greatly decrease his risk for developing celiac disease as an older child or adult?

It's tempting to say "Forget about the gluten. Don't worry about it." After all, we don't need it and neither does he. Gluten wouldn't do anything for him nutritionally. But it could significantly impact his celiac disease risk. Is it our right to make that decision on his behalf? Is it our responsibility to feed him gluten, counter as that may initially seem to everything we think and know about gluten?

Think about it: though he's at risk for developing celiac disease, that's not a guarantee that he will develop it later in life. And just because we're a gluten-free home—some of us by medical necessity and some by choice in solidarity—doesn't mean that Timothy would make that same decision when he grows up. If the celiac disease genes he most likely carries never "turn on," so to speak, he could very well choose to become a card-carrying member of the wheat-eating segment of the world's population.

But if we fail to introduce him to gluten within the next two months when he will pass through that magic window of time, and he then later develops celiac disease because of elevated risk due to a dietary decision we made for him during his infancy, do we not carry that burden and responsibility and possibly guilt? Do we—and do any parents with celiac disease raising children in a gluten-free household—have a moral imperative to introduce our infants to gluten at the appropriate time in order to minimize their risk for too developing celiac disease?

I don't pretend to have the answer, or even an answer. But we're very soon going to face the choice, and we won't have much time to act on a decision.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Poppy Seed Filling

For as long as we've had this blog we've been talking about Mock Cake, A Polish sweet bread with poppy seed filling that we make twice a year—for Christmas and Easter. Frankly, I can't imagine either of the holidays without it. Whether we've been in Colorado or New York, at home or traveling to see family, the Mock Cake has been a constant. And for the last seven years, it's been gluten-free too.

We make it from scratch, of course, though for years we used Solo brand poppy seed filling. The last few holidays we've been working to change that, testing and refining a truly from-scratch filling much more in line with our approach to baking. This recipe is the result of that work.

This recipe, I suspect, is for us more than anyone else. I freely admit that the number of folks who'll be looking for a recipe such as this are pretty small. The subset of the gluten-free community specifically looking for a a recipe for a gluten-free Polish sweet bread made only twice per year for certain Christian holidays has got to be a tiny group. And of those folks, the ones looking for a from-scratch filling rather than the convenience of the store-bought canned stuff is even smaller.

But recipes like this matter. Sure, recipes for the masses can be insanely popular. But recipes like this, where we take a traditional family food that's been part of our food heritage for generations, are the ones that truly bridge the divide between our pre- and post-gluten-free lives. Pancakes and cookies and bread are one thing. Specialty foods like this are quite another.

Easter—and spring—are, for many, about rebirth. Nowhere is that more important than with specialty, family heritage recipes such as this. Even if you don't have a need for a from-scratch poppy seed filling to go with your gluten-free Polish sweet bread, I hope this recipe inspires you to take another specialty recipe that means much to you, and bring it fully into your gluten-free life.

Poppy Seed Filling
Makes 1 2/3 cups

1 1/4 cups (176 g) poppy seeds
1/2 cup cow's or almond milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon rum
Zest of one small lemon

1. Grind the poppy seeds into a powder in a spice grinder or high-power blender.
2. Combine the milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the ground seeds, honey, and rum. When the mixture returns to a simmer, cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest.
5. Cool completely before using.


P.S. If you're looking for other gluten-free Easter recipes, might we suggest our:

–Pete and Kelli

Friday, April 11, 2014

Chocolate-Almond Moelleux

One of the (many) great things about being married to the graduate of a collegiate hospitality program is Kelli's collection of textbooks. Forget statistics and macroeconomics and organic chemistry. Her books instead are filled with oodles of professional recipes for all manner of desserts, and it's often a great source of inspiration to take one of those recipes and modify it to both make it gluten-free and make it our own.

This moelleux is just that. It's basically a fancy French word for lava cake. Need we say more? This one blends chocolate with almond (one of Kelli's favorite flavors). Pair the hot-out-of-oven individual cakes with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and your Friday night will be set.

Chocolate-Almond Moelleux
Makes 8 ramekins

1/2 cup GF almond paste
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
7 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup Artisan GF Flour Blend
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease eight 6-oz ramekins with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a mixing bowl, using a paddle attachment with the mixer at medium speed, combine the almond paste and confectioner's sugar until the mixture looks sandy.
3. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix at high speed until the mixture is pale yellow, about 3 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites and sugar until a stiff meringue forms.
5. Fold the meringue into the yolk mixture.
6. In another separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. Fold into the egg mixture.
7. Fold in the melted butter.
8. Divide the batter among the prepared ramekins.
9. Bake for 15 minutes if you prefer a runny center and 20 minutes if you want the cake just set all the way through.


–Pete and Kelli

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Promise and Perils of Celiac-Safe Wheat

Last month I looked at whether today's gluten is more toxic to those with active celiac disease than the gluten of old. The general answer is "yes," though it comes with a healthy dose of caveats and nuance. In this post, on the other hand, I'm flipping the toxicity question on its head and examining what recent research has found regarding the prospect of celiac-safe wheat and gluten. You read that right: the prospect of celiac-safe wheat and gluten. It sounds like an oxymoron, and for all practical purposes it is, but the research is intriguing, even if celiac-safe wheat remains an idea much more than a near- or even mid-term possibility.

Mind you, I'm not talking about gluten-free foods for those with celiac disease made from wheat starch that's been isolated from the problematic gluten through processing. I'm talking about plain wheat—gluten and all—but without the toxicity that makes it off limits to those of us with celiac disease and other gluten issues.

Remember: As the thinking goes, for a person to develop active celiac disease (and thus for wheat to become a dietary and major health problem), you need three things: 1) a genetic predisposition, 2) a trigger that turns the disease on, and 3) dietary exposure to celiac-toxic gluten. That last part is crucial: celiac-toxic gluten.

Not all gluten is evil, and no, I'm not crazy for saying that. Saying "gluten" is like saying "human" or "insect." You've given some information, but you've also glossed over tremendous amounts of variation within the umbrella category. When we talk about gluten in relation to celiac disease, what we really care about is not gluten generally but rather the specific sequences of amino acids—especially common in, though not exclusive to, the alpha gliadin forms of gluten coded for by the 6D chromosome—that are toxic to those with celiac disease. That's really where the celiac rubber meets the road.

In theory, you could identify naturally occurring (or develop scientifically) varieties of wheat whose gluten retains its desirable baking characteristics while leaving behind its toxicity. Sounds like a pipe dream, doesn't it? Except it might not be.

Wheat Gluten Without the Toxicity

Numerous studies from within the past decade have identified naturally occurring varieties of wheat and its relatives that have low or even potentially no celiac toxicity. Consider this representative sampling:

  • A 2009 study found a wide variety of alpha gliadin gene expression in tetraploid and hexaploid wheat varieties, including great variation in celiac-specific epitopes that would cause a reaction. Researchers pointed to the possibility of screening to pre-select wheat varieties with very low celiac toxicity potential.
  • A 2010 study similarly examined 11 wheat cultivars, including 3,000 gene sequences that all coded for alpha gliadins. They found naturally occurring sequences that coded for gliadin peptide sequences that lacked celiac toxicity.
  • Another 2010 study examined more than 80 modern and ancestral wheat varieties. They found modern and ancestral varieties alike that contained relatively low levels of toxic gliadin, leading researchers to suggest that "low celiac toxicity" could be a new wheat breeding trait.
  • A 2011 study also concluded that naturally occurring variation could yield gliadins that lack toxicity.
  • An earlier 2005 study looked at diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid wheats. Researchers found a variety of toxicity levels, promising enough "to endeavor the selection of wheat accessions that contain low amounts" of toxicity, and that this process could lead to the selection and breeding of wheat varieties "suitable for consumption by [celiac disease] patients."
  • Another 2005 study likewise found wheat varieties, especially in the diploid and tetraploid families, where toxicity was nearly absent, raising "the prospect of identifying or producing by breeding wheat species with low or absent levels of harmful gluten proteins."
  • A 2006 study also found essentially absent levels of toxicity among some ancestral varieties.

Meanwhile, in 2010 another set of researchers took another approach. Instead of identifying naturally occurring wheat varieties with low levels of celiac toxicity, they used a technique known as RNA interference to effectively "turn off" the genes that code for toxic gluten. They were largely successful. Researchers concluded that this method "can be used to obtain wheat lines with very low levels of toxicity for [celiac disease] patients."

Two Major Red Flags

This may sound exciting and promising to some folks who long to cook and bake with wheat again and taste its flavors, but there's a long and perilous road to first navigate between the labs of researchers and the agricultural wheat fields of our food supply. I can think of at least two major red flags that would require major address:

Guaranteeing lack of toxicity

It takes a pretty substantial dose of scientific rigor and confidence—even hubris, potentially—to proclaim a wheat variety completely free of celiac toxicity. While we know that the alpha gliadins of the D genome are the worst gluten offenders, we also know they are not the only ones. How are we to know that science has fully, completely, and comprehensively identified all amino acid sequences of gluten that are toxic to those with celiac disease?

The short answer is that we can't be so sure. In fact, researchers from a 2006 study raised just this very concern. They wrote, "There may be more, still unknown ... epitopes of gluten." They later continued, "It may be premature to start breeding of non-toxic wheat varieties."

Furthermore, even if we did somehow identify and breed a wheat variety that truly lacked all celiac toxicity, how could we guarantee that a spontaneous gene mutation or other evolution of the cultivar from one generation to the next (such as hybridization with a toxic variety grown in an adjacent field) didn't reintroduce a known or new toxic form of gluten?

Guaranteeing integrity of celiac-safe wheat

Last year more than 541 million acres of the Earth's surface were planted in wheat. I don't think I'm at all going out on a limb when I say that we'd never see the entirety of world wheat production replaced with celiac-safe wheat. That means that celiac-safe wheat would need to coexist in a world of toxic wheat. This introduces an overwhelming number of concerns.

You'd need agricultural fields dedicated to growing celiac-safe wheat, plus measures put in place to ensure that rogue toxic wheat doesn't infiltrate the crop. And you'd have to implement an impressively robust chain of custody to maintain the integrity of a celiac-safe crop of wheat from field through processing and into flour, products, and/or the dinner table. Remember: celiac-safe wheat will look, bake, and taste like its toxic sisters.

Imagine tracking the life of a celiac-safe crop of wheat through a dedicated flour mill that won't cross-contaminate the batch with conventional wheat, then getting that flour to food product companies and onto supermarket shelves, and then clearly identifying and differentiating those celiac-safe wheat products for consumers (not to mention the regulatory hurdles!).

This is a rabbit hole that goes deeper and deeper the more you think about it. The daunting prospect is enough to make your head spin.

Wait for Celiac-Safe Wheat? Thanks, But No Thanks.

Gluten-based foods processed to remove the gluten are one thing (and a subject best left for another post), but as you can see, inherently celiac-safe wheat that still has gluten in it is an ongoing area of research, if still a distant possibility for consumers at the very best. It's an admirable line of scientific inquiry, but I for one won't be holding my breath. For certain I'll watch ongoing developments with keen interest—for the love of the science, if nothing else—but when it comes to my health and our kitchen at home, wheat has no place, and that isn't likely to change anytime soon, if ever in my lifetime.

What about you? Would you eat celiac-safe wheat and bake with its flour? Do you long for its taste? For the doughy elasticity of true gluten in your baking? I'd love to hear your opinions...


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Is today's gluten more toxic?

Last week I wrote how the percent gluten content of wheat hasn't changed over the course of at least the last century. In fact, you could even say wheat's gluten content has been remarkably stable in spite of breeding wheat over the years for a host of desirable attributes: improved baking characteristics, better nutrition, higher yields, and increased drought and pest resistance, to name a few. A lot about wheat has changed, and yet its gluten content hasn't.

But if the amount of gluten has remained relatively stable, could the nature of that gluten have changed over time? In particular, is the gluten in today's wheat more toxic than the gluten of old?

It's a more complex question to answer than it might appear at first glance. For example: more toxic for whom? For the sake of this blog post, I'm assuming toxic to those with active celiac disease, since that offers the richest body of peer-reviewed scientific research and published studies. For another example: when we start to explore possible answers to the toxicity question, we need to differentiate between a) ancient wheats vs. modern bread wheat, and b) changes over time within modern bread wheat alone.

I'll explore both of those angles in this blog post, discuss potential implications for the celiac/gluten-free community, and lastly, tee up a follow-up blog post about the prospect of celiac-safe wheat.

Wheat Genetics: A Brief History

When we talk about wheat, even a specific type of wheat such as modern bread wheat, we're actually talking about hundreds or thousands of actual varieties. Almost by necessity, then, we speak in generalities that overlook the variation from one wheat to the next. (That variation will become critically important in a follow-up blog post when I look at the prospect of celiac-safe strains of wheat.)

More or less all the variation in the world's wheats arises from the contributions of one, two, or three genomes—which researchers refer to as the A, B, and D genomes—each of which has 7 chromosomes. Ancient wheat varieties such as einkorn are diploid, meaning they have two sets of chromosomes from one genome (e.g., AA). Other ancient wheat varieties such as emmer as well as modern durum (pasta) wheat are tetraploid, meaning they have two sets of chromosomes from each of two genomes (e.g., AABB). Finally, modern bread wheat is hexaploid, with two sets of chromosomes from each of the three major genomes (e.g., AABBDD). (I also discuss this in chapter 1 of The Gluten-Free Edge.)

As we'll see, those three genomes—A, B, and D—code for gluten of different toxicity levels. And when more than one genome is present, they are not all expressed equally.

But by and large, the major offenders are two "families" of gluten: the alpha and gamma gliadins. They represent the real "problem children" in the gluten family. It's not all gluten that's a problem, but rather specific subsets of amino acid sequences that cause reactions in those with celiac disease. Any genome can code for alpha and gamma gliadins, but how much gliadin they cause and how toxic that gliadin is differ. Therein lies the rub when it comes to answering the "is today's gluten more toxic" question.

Ancient Wheats vs. Modern Bread Wheat

Generally, old wheats were less toxic than modern bread wheat, though all forms of wheat are generally accepted to have at least some level of toxicity for those with celiac disease, making wheat and its relatives categorically excluded from the gluten-free diet. For example, a 2006 study comparing modern bread wheat with ancient einkorn found the modern bread wheat was more toxic.

And though it's safe to generalize and say that modern bread wheat on the average has more toxic gluten than ancient wheat varieties, there is also some evidence that certain ancient varieties could have been more toxic than today's, such as a 2009 study that looked at wheat varieties such as Kamut (considered an ancient relative of modern durum pasta wheat). Not only were its gluten peptides as toxic as today's durum wheat, but it had more of that toxic gluten.

The Evolution of Modern Bread Wheat

As a hexaploid wheat, modern bread wheat contains the A, B, and D genomes. A 2012 study (and many before it, including these from 20052006, and 2009) showed that the D genome codes for the most toxic strains of gluten, followed by the A genome, and then the B. And when all three genomes are present (as they are in modern bread wheat), not all are expressed equally. In fact, the D genome—which codes for the most toxic strains of gluten—is preferentially expressed.

Further, when we look at hexaploid wheat (i.e., modern bread wheat) over time, we find that it has in fact gotten more toxic. A 2010 study, for example, compared 36 modern European hexaploid wheats against 50 hexaploid wheats grown up until about one century ago. Researchers found that alpha 9 gliadin, one of the most toxic forms of gluten, is more prevalent in the modern wheat varieties. They concluded, this "suggests modern wheat breeding practices may have led to an increased exposure to celiac disease epitopes."

Implications for the Celiac/Gluten-Free Community

As the thinking goes, for a person to develop active celiac disease, you need three things: 1) a genetic predisposition, 2) a trigger that turns the disease on, and 3) dietary exposure to celiac-toxic gluten. Much recent research has begun to look at #2, investigating possible triggers that could help to account for Americans' rising prevalence of celiac disease. The "is today's gluten more toxic" question, on the other hand, gets at #3.

It will be tempting to conclude that today's gluten is more toxic to those with celiac disease, and therefore say that today's toxic gluten is partly responsible for the rising rates of celiac disease. But that's not what the research (so far) shows. I've seen scant few studies that have examined whether the celiac-toxicity of wheat gluten is positively correlated with risk for developing celiac disease in the first place. There's an important difference between identifying those forms of gluten that are most toxic to those with active celiac disease vs. identifying the factors that cause celiac disease to "turn on" in the first place with someone with the genetic predisposition. Remember: even with today's more toxic gluten, there remain millions of Americans (and millions more internationally) who have the genetic predisposition yet still fail to develop active celiac disease despite having the genes for it.

We may very well find that the amount of gluten to which you are exposed, and—to the point of this post—the relative celiac toxicity of that gluten are risk factors for developing celiac disease in the first place. A study just came out last month in fact looking at the former. As for the latter, it for now remains a possibility but not a certainty, so let's refrain from jumping to premature conclusions, however tempting that may be to do.

In the meantime, what are we as a celiac/gluten-free community to do with this information about the relative toxicity of gluten from various modern and ancient strains of wheat? For now, not much. Regardless of their relative toxicity levels, all forms of wheat have shown at least some level of toxicity to those with celiac disease, meaning that this is a black and white issue—they're all "out" of the gluten-free diet.

For those with other forms of gluten intolerance, especially those who have some threshold of exposure to gluten to trigger a negative response, the idea of choosing less-toxic, lower-gluten forms of wheat might sound like an appealing dietary possibility. But how would you as a consumer reliably identify which wheats you should and shouldn't have?

The much more intriguing prospect is this: despite a trend in modern bread wheat toward gluten that's more toxic to celiac disease patients, researchers have been identifying individual varieties of wheat across the spectrum (modern and ancient alike) that seem to exhibit low or even no toxicity for those with celiac disease. If such varieties can be identified that still retain other desirable characteristics (e.g., yield, baking quality, drought and pest resistance), it opens the controversial door to the possibility that we might one day see celiac-safe wheat. That will be the topic of next week's post.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Singapore Street Noodles

When you hear of Singapore street noodles, what's the first thing that comes to mind? If you're like us, it's probably the dish from the regular and gluten-free menus at P.F. Chang's. But what makes Singapore street noodles what they are? From what we can gather, it's the combination of vermicelli rice noodles, vegetables, often shrimp and/or chicken, and a light sauce. A hallmark of Western versions is curry, common to both the P.F. Chang's version and copycat recipes. However, according to at least one writer who's actually eaten noodle dishes on the streets of Singapore, the curry flavor profile is nowhere to be found.

Our version similarly foregoes the curry in favor of an easy-to-make sauce that's both complex and light in flavor. We opt for chicken, though you could easily substitute or add shrimp, or likewise omit both and bolster the vegetables to make it a more substantial vegetarian meal. Our last tip: do all the prep work first, then start your cooking. Making this dish is a snap when you have a few bowls lined up (mise en place) with your carrots, cabbage, chicken, garlic and ginger, and sauce.

Singapore Street Noodles
Makes 4 servings

3 to 4 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/2 head green cabbage, sliced thin or shredded
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 to 1.5 inches fresh ginger, minced
Olive oil
8 ounces vermicelli rice noodles

For the chicken marinade
1 tbsp GF tamari wheat-free soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp sesame oil

For the sauce
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp GF tamari wheat-free soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sherry
1/4 tsp sesame oil

1. Place the sliced chicken breast in a small bowl, add the marinade, toss to coat, and let sit while you prepare the first steps of the recipe. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil.
2. In a large skillet, saute the carrots in about 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat until al dente.
3. Add the cabbage to the skillet, drizzle with an additional 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil, lightly salt, and continue sautéing to wilt and cook down the cabbage, until al dente and reduced in volume by 1/3 to 1/2. Remove the cabbage and carrots from the pan.
4. Add the chicken and marinade to the skillet, and cook until the chicken is done.
5. Add a tsp of olive oil to the chicken, then add the garlic and ginger and saute just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
6. Add the cabbage and carrots back to the skillet, and toss everything to evenly mix.
7. Add the vermicelli rice noodles to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, only 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and add the noodles to the skillet.
8. Whisk together all sauce ingredients, then pour the sauce over the noodles in the skillet. Toss to evenly coat the noodles, chicken, and veggies and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the flavor has melded.


–Pete and Kelli