Thursday, April 25, 2013

celebrational tzatziki: a story and a recipe

For those of you who have been following my celiac story, you know that there have been quite a few bumps in the road. Having to go 100% gluten and lactose free was hard enough, and then in December, realizing something else was wrong was a hard pill to swallow.

Through a series of eliminations, I realized that corn was also an issue, and I've been corn free for about a month now. I'm in the process of eliminating soy as well, which was a blow, seeing as how we live in the soy capital of the world.

So when I come across little triumphs, they are taken with a lot of celebration!

As I was researching gluten/Celiac/symptoms all those months ago, I had read from many sources that lactose intolerance was often a byproduct of untreated Celiac Disease.


Those same sources said that (UNLIKE GLUTEN) some Celiacs may regain the ability to tolerate lactose after letting their bodies heal for a while. For some, it was within months. For others, it took decades. (And for many, lactose was out for the rest of their lives.) Being the ever-positive (or, should I say, blissfully naive??) person that I am, I was hopeful that this would be something that would get better.

The lactose intolerance didn't have nearly the same side effects as if I were to consume gluten, but it was still uncomfortable. And if I wasn't able to easily tolerate it, I wasn't going to put myself through consuming it on a regular basis. But I figured that if I didn't occasionally check, I'd never know if I had regained the ability to digest it.

So every month or so, I'd try just a little bit. Maybe a small spread of cream cheese, or a shot glass of milk. Some hard cheese or some feta sprinkled on a salad. And every time, I'd pay for it. So I cut it back and figured I'd check once a quarter. Just a little bit, to see.

A few weeks ago we went to Sendai for a few days. We always start off road trips with a stop at Starbucks, but I can no longer have soy lattes. I hadn't tested lactose in several months and decided that I could use a little good news, just in case. And good news, I received! I ordered the smallest size (for those of you in the states, the Japanese have a size smaller than a tall -- called a short.) I tolerated it well, and even got one again the next day with no side effects!

Now, this doesn't mean that I'm going to start eating and drinking lactose-filled dairy products every day. But a little bit now and then is such a wonderful triumph with all the bad news I've had in the past several months!

So to celebrate, I made one of my all-time favorites: Greek Tzatziki sauce. This little condiment goes beautifully with meats (especially pork and lamb), on a burger, with fries, or even as a pizza dipping sauce!

Tzatziki Sauce (Yields about 2 cups)

12 oz (1.5 cups) Greek Yogurt
1 large cucumber, or 1.5 small ones
1 tsp pressed garlic (or 1 clove)
2 tsp chopped dill (fresh or dried)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper

1. Slice cucumber(s) down the middle. Gently drag a soon (facing down) along the inside of the cucumber to remove most of the seeds. Then, chop the cucumber into small pieces, discarding the seeds. (The seedy insides carry moisture, which will make your tzatziki sauce runny.)

2. Place the cucumber pieces on a large paper towel, and pat dry. Leave the pieces on the paper towel for a few minutes to let it absorb excess moisture.

3. Measure all the other ingredients and add them to a food processor or blender. Add the cucumber pieces.

4. Process until smooth (I usually blend for about 30 seconds.)

5. Taste the sauce and add more salt or dill if needed. (I'm a sucker for dill, so I usually add a bit more lemon juice, garlic, and dill to mine, but it's your call!)

6. Place in the fridge for at least a half hour before serving. This allows the ingredients to thicken a bit and to "rest," thus enhancing the flavor. I usually make the sauce the night before I plan to use it.

The recipe is pretty quick and easy, and makes a great addition to many meals! Enjoy!

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