Sunday, November 6, 2011

Las Cruces' Celiac's Answer to Fine Dining: De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery


               A Las Cruces' Celiac's Answer to Fine Dining: 
                    De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery

The Springer Family didn't have any plans to ever go into the restaurant biz, but when the restaurant renting the space from Tom and Jeanine Springer moved on, they decided to give it a try. The outcome of their novice effort has been nothing short of remarkable. A million dollar renovation that created an upscale dining environment and the building of a strong team has made this eatery blossom into something extraordinary.

Tom and Jeanine brought back their daughter Ashley from her life as a journalist to run the restaurant operations and marketing. Thanks to Ashley the restaurant has become highly aware of the need to  provide fine dining fare to gluten free and vegetarian diners. Ashley has worked with Executive Chef and Catering Manager Bob Brainard to develop a menu that rivals some of the best, with more gluten free options than any place I have yet to dine.

Chef Bob, staying true to the agriculture of the area, builds his menu around fresh, seasonal ingredients. He has dedicated twenty years to the restaurant business and the proof is in every delectable bite.  The team has been made even stronger with the addition of the new pastry chef, Scott. Scott is making gluten free desserts that no one could recognize as gluten free. The Gluten Free desserts at De La Vega's are truly divine.

I have sampled and will recommend all of the following gluten free dishes (though I have yet to try something that I did not fall in love with, so don't be afraid to branch out and forge your own way through the menu!) :

Hatch Chicken Pasta: Pecan wood-grilled chicken over GF linguine with green chile alfredo, bacon and fresh parmesan.

Smoked Beef Brisket: 8 oz. of thinly sliced brisket smothered in house made chipotle BBQ sauce.

Stuffed Squash:  Squash (seasonal) stuffed with seasonal vegetables white and mozzarella cheeses topped with fresh basil. 

Portabella: Filled with Feta and white Cheddar cheeses, artichoke hearts and red bell peppers.

 Green Chili Turkey Melt: Roasted turkey, whole Hatch green chile and Swiss cheese, on gluten free bread.

 Green Chili Stew: Spices, green chile, and pecan wood-smoked pork, topped with white cheddar cheese.

 Summer Strawberry: Roasted chicken breast, sweet strawberries, blackberries, apples, goat cheese and candied pecans in house-made strawberry vinaigrette. (yum!)

That, my friends, is just a sample of what De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery has to offer. Gluten free, Vegetarians, and carnivores alike will all find many options to thoroughly enjoy, I promise.

They also cater. They have an on-site bakery and will even make birthday and wedding cakes!

One last recommendation, dare to be bold and try the blackberry jalapeño margarita you will not regret it!

Peace and happy gluten free exploration,


Sunday, October 23, 2011

**GF Savory Cherry Tomato Corn Cakes & Sage Brown Butter With Baked Saffron Eggs**

      GF Savory Cherry Tomato Corn Cakes & Sage Brown Butter with Baked Saffron Eggs

Good Morning GF Explorers! 

Today we had such a tasty treat! My guys and I made this super simple meal together and it was magical!
For the corn pancakes we used:

1 1/2C     corn flour
1/4 C       corn starch
1 Tbsp     baking powder
1 tsp         salt
1 pinch    saffron
2 tsp        smoked paprika
2 tsp        cracked black pepper
1 tsp        roasted ground cumin
4 leaves   chopped fresh sage

Then we added:

1               egg (beaten like it was bad!)
3/4C         almond milk (extra as needed batter should be scoop-able not runny)
1/4C         olive oil

I mixed this loveliness together and added some sautéed corn and diced onion once these darlings were on the griddle and nestled the cherry tomatoes cut in half right in just before I flipped the cakes over.                           
Sage Brown Butter
Just heated some chopped sage and butter (1/2 stick) until the butter melted and the solids browned for a warm nutty topping.

The Saffron Baked Eggs:
I lubed up 2 ramekins with oil and a silicone brush and preheated the oven to 325 degrees
In a bowl briskly whisked together:
2            eggs
1 tsp      smoked paprika
1 tsp      garlic powder                            
1 tsp      salt
1 tsp      cracked pepper
1 tsp      roasted cumin
poured into ramekins and topped with a cracked egg. Bake for 15 minutes or until risen and egg on top is cooked as well as you like.
There you have it. You'll fall in love.
Peace and happy exploration!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

**** GF Braised Lamb Shank Enchilada****

 I had these lamb shanks hanging around my fridge waiting for me to braise them but I had a pretty heavy work load this week from school and there was just no way that braising them and having them for dinner the same night was going to happen.

So I threw some fresh tomato juice I had in the fridge, left over from freezing a batch of tomatoes, into my dutch oven and filled it a little over half way. (you can use stock if you'd like or what ever liquid tickles your fancy)

I added some cumin, smoked paprika, smashed garlic, a pablano pepper seeded and chopped, one sliced onion, one sliced potato, some fresh oregano and basil, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper. I let all those guys hang out together and mingle while I heated a skillet on med heat. I turned on the oven to 450 degrees to preheat.

I mixed together a rub of smoked paprika, cumin, pepper, and garlic powder and I rolled the shanks one at a time until coated. I poured in a good splash of pure sunflower oil in to the hot skillet. After a minute or two I put the shanks in the pan and seared those babies on all sides until golden. This happens pretty fast. I think I have done about 20 minutes of work at this point.

I got those little shanks tucked into their nice brothy bed and poured more liquid in to cover. Then I threw them in the oven and forgot about them for 3 hours. They came out looking so good! 

Mmm-mmm. If it hadn't been 10:30 at night those little lambkins would have been history but it was too late and my Mr. had made the most divine sweet potato burgers on the planet for dinner so I was full.  
The shanks had to hang out for one more day. I pulled them out and put them in a bowl and covered them with plastic wrap. Then I stuck my immersion blender into the dutch oven and smoothed out the chunks of veggies rolling around in there. Threw that in to a container and checked them into the fridge for the night.

Went to school the next day and got my learning on. When I came home, I preheated the oven to 350. Then I diced up the shank meat, added some chopped onion, cumin seed, and a little bit of the sauce to a skillet and heated. I put the remaining sauce in a pot with some more smokey paprika, a bit of sumac, some cayenne, a splash of cider vinegar, and about 16 oz of diced tomato in puree. That heated on medium heat while I heated tortillas for the enchiladas and filled them with the lamb. 

I put about 5 ladlefuls of the sauce in the bottom of my baking dish. I placed in the enchiladas, covered with more sauce, and sealed them up in some foil. They baked for 20-25 minutes with the foil and then another 5 with out foil and with cheese on top until gold and bubbly.

It was worth the effort and wait! And because of my hectic week, you get two recipes in one. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


                                  ****GF ASIAN CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS****

Greetings Explorers!

Love lettuce wraps but hate spending a lot to go out to dinner. They are quick, easy, and inexpensive and you should make some! Here is my recipe it serves 2 or 3:

1 head of lettuce (I like butter but you can use iceberg that is what I used this time)
2 chicken breasts (coarse chopped) or 1/2 lb ground chicken
1 can water chestnut (processed or chopped)
2 baby bokchoy (washed chopped or processed)
1/2 onion (chopped)
3 carrots (chopped)
1 red pepper (diced)
Chinese five spice
Red pepper flakes(optional)
Fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp ginger powder
2 TBSP Gluten Free Soy Sauce
1 Jar Hoisin Sauce
2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
some fresh basil or lime basil (rolled together then chopped)
a splash of lime juice
2 TBSP of cooking oil ( I use sunflower)
Cilantro to taste (optional for you cilantro haters!)
1/2 package of rice sticks and high temp cooking oil (about an inch in a heavy bottom sauce pan)

Core lettuce, peel off leaves, soak in a bowl of ice water to crisp.

Start sauce pan heating filled with approx. 1 in. of  high temp cooking oil on medium heat.

Season chopped or ground chicken with chinese five spice, salt, fresh cracked pepper, ginger, and red pepper flakes if you like some heat.

Heat a  large skillet on med heat for a few minutes and add oil.

Then add chicken and cook for 5 minutes add veggies and cook 5 more minutes.

Follow with 2 TBSP each of:
GF soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and rice vinegar.  Hit it with that basil! Cook for 3 or 4 minutes more.

Remove from heat and finish off with lime juice and cilantro.

Add rice sticks to oil in sauce pan, they will expand right away. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Wipe lettuce with towel and plate it with the chicken mixture and rice sticks. Add some hoisin sauce on the side.


The Gluten Free Explorer

****GF Candy:Be Safe This Halloween****


                                                ****GF Candy:Be Safe This Halloween****

Happy October GF Kiddies! 

I have found this list of purported gluten free candy just in time for halloween. I say purported because someone else other then me has posted this info, however I feel it is a reputable source looking out for GFers best interests. ( )

So here you go. I think you will be pleasantly surprised and your sweet tooth will be just tickled!

Enjoy your treats and beware of beasties and creepy crawlies!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

* Homemade Natural Gluten Free Hairspray*

                          Homemade Natural Gluten Free Hairspray

Hiya Fellow GF Explorers!

 I don't know about you guys but I am pretty addicted to hairspray and quite a few formulas have some kind of wheat derivative in them. I also don't want to be putting a lot of chemicals on top of my dome either! The only answer was to find a way to make some natural and inexpensive hairspray. Here you go!

You will need: 1 lemon,  1 orange, a sprig of fresh mint, 1 oz of  GF vodka, and 2 cups of purified water. This will make approximately 1 cup of hairspray. Put water, mint, and chopped lemon and orange into a double boiler. Reduce down by half. Strain solution through a cheesecloth. Pour solution into a  bottle with a pump sprayer and add vodka. Refrigerate.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Aqua Reef Las Cruces' Hidden Gem

Aqua Reef - EuroAsian Cuisine is Las Cruces' Hidden Gem

       You wouldn't guess by the understated exterior that a fine dining experience awaits the special needs diner (non special need diners as well) but I assure you, you'll be blown away. 

      Aqua Reef features Euro Asian cuisine offered in an east meets west theme. From the elegant floating boat sushi bar to the intimate dining room, the unique and warm ambiance will keep this gluten free explorer coming back. 

      Let me tell you about the AMAZING 100% GLUTEN FREE MEAL I shared with my husband this past weekend. We started out our meal with hot sake for him and Moscato for moi. 

     For our appetizer we shared a Baja roll (shrimp, avocado, cucumber, and sesame seeds wrapped in rice and nori) and a smoked salmon and mango roll (smoked salmon, mango, cream cheese, and scallions wrapped in rice and nori) served complete with pickled ginger, wasabi, and gluten free soy sauce.

     For our entrees, he had rice paper salmon (pan seared salmon wrapped in rice paper with cilantro, pesto, and spices) and I enjoyed green tea curry chicken (Chicken and vegetables in a coconut green tea sauce with jasmine rice).

     I can tell you that I really did not want to stop eating that curry, the sauce has such a depth of flavor that kept me saying mmm.  However, I knew if I ate all of my curry I wouldn't have room for dessert and nothing was going to keep me from  the kahlua chocolate mousse (a delectable pillow of chocolate mousse that has been infused with rich kahlua and topped with fresh whipped cream served in a spectacular smoke and ice display. 

       I will be completely honest and say when I saw that mousse heading to our table, I did not want to share any of it with my Mr. Being the loving life partner I am,  I did share nicely. As long as I am being honest I will also let you know that I had quite an inner struggle going on when we reached the end of the mousse. I really wanted to lick that bowl clean. I managed to rein myself in and be content with making sure I  got all of it off of my spoon and okay maybe I trailed my finger along in the bowl a little bit.

      It was a great experience. The food was truly wonderful, the service was attentive, and the prices we very fair. It is this explorer's opinion that Aqua Reef has set the bar pretty high Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Suite B
900 South Telshor Boulevard, Las Cruces, NM 88011
(575) 522-7333

Open Mon-Thu,Sun 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat 11am-10pm

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gluten Free Polenta Crust Pizza

                                             Gluten Free Polenta Crust Pizza

Talk about MMM Good! I let this sweet baby bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or so allowing it to get golden and firm. It was so worth the wait!

1C course ground cornmeal
1 egg beaten until foamy
2 TBS cornstarch
3C Veggie Stock ( I make my own but any gf stock will do)
1tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp oregano

Mix 1 cup of cold veg stock with cornmeal and starch in bowl.  Heat on medium in a pot 2C stock, red pepper flakes, and oregano Add cornmeal mixture and bring to a boil to thicken. Remove from heat and add parmesan. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before adding egg so it doesn't scramble in mixture. poor in to a large spring form pan. Bake at 425 for 45 minutes. (baking time may vary from oven to oven. I recommend checking frequently after 30 minutes.)

Add whatever toppings you like on your pizza and bake for 10 more minutes to get things melty.


Cheese Giving Celiac's the Blues

Cheese Giving Celiac's the Blues

I don't really care for blue cheeses but I have just recently learned that blue cheeses including gorgonzola, stilton, and roquefort are often made with a mold from wheat. 

Here is a list of reported gluten free blue cheeses:

BelGioioso gorgonzola

Marin French Cheese Factory 

Maytag blue cheese

Montforte blue cheese and gorgonzola

Pt. Reyes blue cheese

Rosenborg blue cheese 

Paladin MonSalvat blue cheese

   Sorry to those of you that loved this stinky food and can't find gluten free options in your area.

I know it is hard to give up the tasty treats we are into.  (This week I am mad at anyone that can eat sopapillas. Let me know if you have a GF recipe. I will <3 you forever!)
There is a whole world full of really smelly cheeses out there (do your research before you eat them) and just maybe you will find something to get your taste buds singing again.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

**Gluten Free Harvest Hash**

                                                             Gluten Free Harvest Hash

Today's lunch was a yummy hash I made with delectable local produce. In a little bit of sunflower oil with a hot skillet I browned up some halved brussel sprouts and onions. I threw in some cubed butternut squash that I had roasted whole the day before. I added some sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, pressed garlic, and caraway seeds. I let the browning continue on medium heat for about 10 minutes. I then added some  tomato cut into large chunks and some fresh minced rosemary.  (about 2 small sprigs, stems removed). When everything was all caramelized and my mouth was watering at the smell, I deglazed the hash with a couple good shakes of balsamic vinegar.  

While all that goodness was happening over on one side of the stovetop. In another pan I was simmering the remaining butternut squash in some veggie stock with some paprika, sea salt, and pepper. When it was fork tender I used my immersion blender until it was smooth, thick, and creamy. I then grated some fresh parmigiano reggiano into the squash for a rich and creamy sauce.

It was pretty awesome. It didn't take more than 30 minutes to cook and was a great way to use up the surplus of veggies I still had hanging out from last weeks farmer's market.

Good stuff!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Balsamic Apple Sauce *Quick and Easy*


                                                  Balsamic Apple Sauce *Quick and Easy*

Hey there!

I got a bunch of beautiful apples from Freecycle the other day. I requested surplus fruits, veggies, or nuts from gardens and got a response right away. I came home with 3 bags full of fresh, pesticide free, homegrown goodness. I have been making many apple delights and wanted to share this quick and easy dish with you.

First I peeled, cored, and sliced 12 small apples (or 6 large).  I threw them into a pot with 1/2 a cup  of water.  Then I added the following: 2 TBSP of  cane sugar, a pinch of sea salt,  2 TBSP of cinnamon , some fresh grated nutmeg (Just a few swipes of the nut. A little goes a long way!), 1 TBSP of Balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp of lemon juice. I boiled these covered on medium heat for 30 minutes. Blended with an immersion blender. Presto! Tangy apple goodness for your rumbly tumbly!

100% gluten free


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gluten Free Pound Cake Made to Order!

Looking for a gluten free pound cake? Place your order here:

Welcome to Gluten Free Explorer!

Hi there,
My name is Angee and I have started this blog to reach out to all of those in their various stages of gluten free exploration. In this blog I will share with you: relevant news, tips as well as experiences on gluten free travel and dining, recipes, product info, and personal insights. 
Maybe you are curious about all of the fuss surrounding gluten and being gluten free. Perhaps you have an interest in a healthier gluten free life style. Maybe you have a sensitivity or you are a member of the celiac/sprue community. All are welcome to explore here!

For this first post I would like to share some information about what celiac disease is, the symptoms, the treatment, and my personal story.
I have celiac disease and have been gluten free for about 3 years now.  Great news, there is life after gluten! Many find that it is a much happier and healthier life style. I know I sure do.
Celiac Disease or Sprue is a genetic autoimmune disorder in which the body incorrectly reacts to gluten ( a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye)  as if it were a toxin. On average celiac disease or gluten sensitivity effects about 1:130 people, many still undiagnosed. Those that go undiagnosed maybe high risk for an array of maladies and disorders.
Some symptoms of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are: gas, diarrhea, bloating, weight loss or gain, rash, fatigue, weakness, headaches, infertility, abnormal uterine bleeding, gall bladder troubles, kidney issues, liver problems, depression, anxiety, abdominal cramping, bone pain, anemia, muscle spasms, and nerve pain. This disease effects people of all ages, genders, and nationalities.
To receive a diagnosis you must, while still eating gluten, have blood tests followed by a biopsy of the small bowel to see if the intestinal lining has sustained damage. Once diagnosed the only recourse is to follow a gluten free diet. There is no quick fix pill to take.
This is a drastic life style change and it is normal to experience a certain amount of grief. It helps to take a step back an appreciate the trade off...for me, though I will tell you sometimes I am heartsick for yummy foods I used to adore, it is worth it!

 At the height of my celiac distress I believed with all my being I was going to die. I was having  constant muscle pain and spasms, nerve pain, intestinal distress of all sorts, rashes, debilitating weakness and fatigue, headaches, uncontrollable uterine bleeding, fertility problems, IgA Nephropathy, and yes depression and anxiety. 

Doctors couldn't figure out my problem and so many times I was told I was simply depressed, I had fibromyalgia, I needed to lose weight. None of the physicians wanted to hear " I am depressed because not a one of you can tell me what is wrong. No I don't believe it is just something to be written off as fibromyalgia, and I bet my diet is better than yours." Many docs thought I was just looking for pain pills. I couldn't get them to hear me. 
My husband had to do research from the home-front. After many long hours he discovered celiac disease and we became armed with info that I believe saved my life. Being informed forces busy doctors to hear what you have to say! 

For those of you still struggling for answers as to why you feel so poorly, you are paying for these Doc's services. Make sure they are willing to work for you or shop around and find one that is willing to put in the work towards getting your needs met.  If you think this might be the root of your aliments tell them you want to be tested and start on your path to wellness!
I look forward to exploring this lifestyle with you!
*This information is not intended to be medical advice. Please seek medical advice from a physician.

(Katz)Marble Cake French Toast and Vanilla Saffron Salted Caramel with Brûlée Figs

Happy Sunday Gluten Free Kids!

I really love Sundays.Why? One Word. BRUNCH! I became addicted while living in Madison, WI and partaking in this delightful pastime with some very dear friends. However, we are on a tight student budget these days in Las Cruces and brunching at home is so much more budget friendly.

Decadent and blissful is what we had for brunch today. Gluten free doesn't have to be tasteless or boring!

 Today I started out with a marble cake made by Katz ( I dipped the cake slices in a mixture of 2 eggs (you can use egg substitute), almond milk, and vanilla bean paste. I grilled these for a few minutes.

I then cut in half and sugar coated the figs and brûléed them. (use a brûlée torch or if you don't have one you can sear them on a very hot pan for a minute) Figs are such a lovely looking fruit but this just transforms them into divine!

I made my caramel by adding two tablespoons of cane sugar into a hot sauce pan. I let this hang out and get toasty for a few minutes until starting to boil, then I added some vanilla bean paste, saffron threads, 2 Tbsp of butter, and a pinch of salt. I allowed all these guys to hang out in the pan for a minute or two getting to know each other and then I added almond milk (about a half a cup). I brought these guys back up to a rolling boil for two minutes and then let cool.

It is a great way to make a gluten free product work for you and a quick 30 minute gluten free breakfast or brunch!

Now for a bike ride to work off those calories!


Friday, September 16, 2011

Product Review: Pamela's Products, Inc " Simplebites Chocolate Chip Mini Cookie"

Product Review: Pamela's Products, Inc " Simplebites Chocolate Chip Mini Cookie"

Greetings Explorers!

I have something important to tell the Gluten Free Folks around the world about this product. Oh my gosh, FREAKING YUMMTASTIC! 

This is the chocolate chip cookie I have been missing these past few years. 

These cookies are so wonderful that non gluten free noshers keep coming back for more. If you pop these babies in the oven for a minute or two, so that they get warm and gooey, you will be transported to a place in time where life is simple and a glass of milk (or milk alternative) can solve the problems of the world.  Kids, cookies just don't get much better than this.

 Another great thing about Pamela's products, Inc. donates to Celiac Sprue & Autsim Support, and Research Organizations! 

Peace and dreamy, chocolaty noshing,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dr.Hauschka Skin Care Fits the Gluten Free Lifestyle

Dr.Hauschka Skin Care Fits the Gluten Free Lifestyle

This is good news! 124 of 130 Dr. Hauschka skin care products are gluten free per the German Celiac Society. To take a look go to or

"Dr.Hauschka, a holistic skin care brand founded by Dr. Rudolf Hauschka and manufactured in Germany by WALA Heilmittel, still stands true to its original mission ingrained from the beginning—to Heal Humanity and the Earth. Dr.Hauschka Skin Care created a company powered by compassion, maintaining its interest of fostering well-being in the world, from ecologically sound methods of growing and sourcing ingredients to one-of-a-kind manufacturing processes and international fair trade initiatives. The brand's product offering encompasses an overarching message to consumers that their purity and efficacy are helping people to nurture their health and beauty as well as inspiring them to recognize and foster beauty and well-being in others." Source:

A Site Every Gluten Free Person Should Follow

Howdy Fellow Gluten Free Explorers,

Just wanted to drop a quick note about a site that I feel is a must have in any Gluten Free Kid's repertoire;

This site has priceless info to gluten free health.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Product Sensitivity and Sadness

Greetings Fellow Gluten Free Explorers,

Today I am a little bummed to report that I have discovered other new sources of gluten in my life. After my lotion discovery I decided to look at my newly purchased line of shampoo, conditioner, volumizer & thickener, and hair spray. I am sad to report they all have gluten in them. Specifically wheat starch, and hydrolyzed wheat protein.

So I urge you to check all your products and fire the ones that don't play on the gluten free team!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Itching and Scratching in Las Cruces

Greetings Fellow GF Explorers!

I have had a pretty mild but irritating and widespread skin rash for the past week and was having difficulty finding the culprit.  The offender to my derma turned out to be my new and lovely lotion that I had been enjoying tremendously. So a word of caution, Friends! Make sure that all products that you come into contact with are safe for you to use!