Those of you who have been reading my nonsense for a while now, will know that I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I say, “live” and not suffer, because I don’t really suffer. It’s a part of my life now, and I just have to get on with it. It is painful at times and there are days I am so tired I can’t get out of bed, and days I am in so much pain I can’t move, but there is no point in complaining. It is what it is.
For those who aren’t familiar with RA; it is an auto immune condition where my white cells decide to attack my healthy joints and tissue because they mistake them for foreign bodies. This results in inflammation and swelling of my joints and ligaments rendering me immobile at times.
The first few years of my life with RA, I was resigned to the fact that I will forever be on strong medication and constant doctor care. However, in recent years and mainly because health insurance at my husband’s work was so terrible, I was prompted to research alternatives to medication.
My main focus was on diet and food. A few years ago, before I moved to Colorado, I went gluten free. That was a great step for me and helped me immensely to lose weight and straighten up my diet. The key to the weight loss was definitely not resorting to shop bought GF treats and sugar. I just gave up eating desserts and concentrated on fresh fruit and vegetables.
The years of sitting around and watching Food Network and then hours of making all those Food Network treats, just melted off and helped my joints incredibly. Then the move to Colorado happened and all the stress of moving and trying to eat GF while travelling was impossible. Since then, I’ve been GF on and off but I have to say that ever since I started this blog, it has been difficulty to be 100% GF. There are just too many things I want to make, share and eat!
Last few weeks, I have been back on GF and this time, as an incentive to stay on it, I started to experiment with GF baking. I figured that if I don’t deny myself the goodies then maybe I will stick to it! Is it working? Umm….kind of…
This Tomato and Herb Cheese Tart was my first foray into GF baking. I made a couple of different GF tart pastry and though both of them were liked by my family, one didn’t pass my test. So, after I have tweaked that one a bit more, I will share it.
Meanwhile, this one was made using a ready made GF flour mix by Arrowhead Mills. For first time GF bakers, it’s a good thing to start with a mix and get a feel for the different texture of the flour and then experiment with different GF flours.
Most GF flour mixes come complete with everything you need to replace the flour in your recipes with GF flour 1:1 and they work pretty well. The tomatoes looked great at the store last week so I decided to make a summery tart for lunch with tomatoes and herb cheese. I used a container of garlic and herb Allouette cream cheese. Any creamy, herbed cheese can be used. I like Allouette because it’s GF and has only a few ingredients, so its pretty natural.
- 1¾ cups any good GF flour mix
- 6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 5-7 tablespoons iced water
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 large tomatoes, sliced
- 3 eggs
- 1 8oz container Allouette or herb cheese of choice
- ½ cup milk/half and half
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan to sprinkle
- basil leaves for garnish
- 1 11"/28cm tart tin with removable bottom
- Using a food processor, process the flour and butter together until you get a bread crumb texture.
- Add the egg and start with 5 tablespoons ice water to make a dough that comes together.
- Tip out onto a counter and knead the dough until it holds together.
- Add extra water if it seems too dry and has trouble holding a ball shape.
- Flatten the dough into a disc and cover in plastic wrap and chill.
- Let chill for 20 minutes.
- Don't try to roll out cold dough.
- Let soften at room temperature if you chill longer than 20 minutes.
- Roll out between parchment or plastic wrap to 13"
- Using the parchment, gently glide the pastry into the tart tin.
- If it breaks and it probably will, just patch it up.
- Chill the pastry in the freezer for an hour or two or even over night.
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃
- In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, herb cheese, half and half.
- Check for salt and pepper (the cheese will have salt so taste before adding any extra)
- Take out the GF pastry from the freezer.
- Pour in the egg-cheese custard.
- Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until the custard is almost firm.
- Take out of the oven, and place the tomatoes on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- You can also cook the tart all the way and then add the fresh tomatoes if you don't want to cook the tomatoes.
- Here, the tomatoes are still juicy but are cooked slightly.
- You can even broil the top for a few minutes to brown the crust and char the tomatoes.
- Bake the tart for another 15-20 minutes or until the tomatoes have shrivelled up a little and the cheese has browned a bit (or broil for a few minutes)
- Remove the tart from the oven and cool on a rack.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Along with doing GF the last few days, I have been looking into GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and their effect on our health. I have to admit; what I have found is quite disturbing and the biggest issue is, that they are in EVERYTHING we eat and they are not labelled. Basically, someone decided that they would approve this and feed it to us without telling us about it. I have a problem with that.
I am not going to go on about it because not everyone is interested. All I will say is that in the US, all corn, all soy (except organics), Canola oil, sugar (except cane sugar) is genetically modified. UK and EU require the GMOs to be labelled but they have banned most anyway. I don’t know about Australia.
Pick up a pack of anything in the US and you will find corn and soy, be it corn starch, HFCS or corn oil or soybean oil, soy lechitin; all GM. All beet sugar in the US is GM so unless it states that they are using organic sugar or cane sugar, the sugar is GM.
The health issues are apparent, we have an increase in allergies, food intolerances, autism, auto immune conditions, digestive and stomach problems. If you are interested in learning more about GMOs and their effects and what they are and what foods include them, you can check out these informational sites.
Non-GMO Shopping Guide : a list of companies that have committed to not using GMOs in their products.
One of the problems of an auto immune condition such as RA, is something called a “leaky gut”, where food can damage the intestines and leak bacteria into our system. We then get painful inflammation and flare ups because of this leak and the immune system goes into over drive.
I am beginning to think that maybe all these GMOs I have unknowingly been eating for the last 13 years may have something to do with my illness. For the last week, I have consciously watching my intake and have been replacing all food with organic and very carefully reading all packages. My grocery trips are now an all day affair 🙁
I hope this makes a difference for me and I can reverse my RA, here’s to eating clean. I may even be able to go back to eating gluten without fear.
I am a science person and I am all for experimentation and knowledge but I would like to have the choice to participate in experiments. Genetic engineering has great potential but only if its safe. If it causes harm to humans and animals, then I don’t want any part of it.
I hope you are all having a great weekend! I also hope you found this post useful and not preachy in any way. I will keep you updated on my results with this GMO free experiment of mine.
Happy Saturday and beginning of summer!