Healthy & Gluten Free

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Categories: Salads    

This traditional salad in it's original form is extremely close to being gluten free and real without many changes.

Fresh Cobb Salad on a rectangle plate, layed out in small rows
Image by: miheco

Prep time: 15 minutes      Cook time: 30 minutes      Makes: 4 to 6 servings      Difficulty: Easy

Add a bit more chicken, and make it a full meal all by itself. With a bit of planning, and some shopping at some finer stores, this easily becomes a wholesome salad.

Gluten free

Be sure to check out the Shopping Tips section below to be sure you get the right kind of ingredients for this recipe, especially the bacon and the blue cheese. There are some specific things you want to look out for, to ensure you get gluten free and Real versions of these foods.

Shopping Tips - what to look for to get the best gluten free, real ingredients for this recipe:

You want to look for bacon or pork from an organic, pastured pig.

To get high quality, fresh bacon or cured pork, find a very good butcher who will know exactly what's been done to cure and smoke the meat. You are looking for it made the really old fashioned way, not using "fake" smoke or flavor enhancers, and not using added nitrates. Since nitrates and msg are very common ingredients in cured meats, it is vital to find versions without. You also want to look for a gluten free label.

If you have a meat smoker, you can make truly Real bacon or smoked pork.

Some people say the curing is the problem. However, it's actually what's used to cure the meat that is the problem. You can cure bacon and pork without nitrates. The nitrates are often in special curing salt. You can make cured bacon and cured / smoked pork without that kind of salt. You can use regular salt. Often, bacon and cured pork is made with sugar or maple syrup. To keep it Real, use maple syrup or honey rather than sugar.

There is just so much wrong with the way pigs are kept for the vast majority of farms in the US. This produces inferior food for us. Making the effort to find true pastured pigs will pay off big time in your health.

Check out this article on the best ways to prepare pork to keep it healthy:

Check out this article that goes into more detail on pig raising, and what to look for:

You want to find organic eggs, preferably direct from a farmer.

The best would be to buy them from an organic farmer, who truly allows the chickens to roam free. The highest quality eggs are produced from hens that eat a truly natural diet by picking at the ground. They should not be fed a grain based chicken feed. This is far too different than what they would eat in a truly natural environment.

There is just so much wrong with the way chickens are kept for the vast majority of farms in the US. This produces inferior food for us. Making the effort to find these kinds of eggs will pay off big time in your health.

You may be able to find these kinds of eggs at farmers markets, or small health food stores.

Watch out for a lot of gimmicky marketing in relation to eggs, such as Omega 3 eggs. These are from chickens fed grain based chicken feed, so will actually be harmful to you. There's even vegan fed chickens. This is just a really stupid gimmick. They are fed a grain based chicken feed, and fully prevented from being able to pick at natural ground (since they'd eat things not vegan). And if you're eating eggs, it's not vegan. If it sounds gimmicky, walk away.

Here's a nice article about real, free range chickens:

You want to find unrefined salt, with no additives. It should say unrefined on the label. If it is refined, it will simply say salt. Refined salt does not need to list the chemicals used in the refining process, but the word "refined" will tell you that something was used (and most are toxic).

Look for unrefined sea salt, Himalayan salt, or various gourmet hand crafted salt.

Good sea salt should be unrefined, and will not be pure white.

There is also Himalayan salt that many consider a healthy source of salt. It is generally unrefined. There is some debate as to the quality, and the exact makeup of the other minerals found in it. If you find a source of it you like, then go ahead and use it. It's largest benefit is that it does not have added chemicals, and has a wide range of other minerals. If you want the other minerals, then this is a good option.

There are a number of different gourmet salts that are hand crafted via evaporation that are nice quality. With some investigating, you can find very clean, uncontaminated sources.

For additional reading on salt, check out this article on our site:

You want to find organic chicken, preferably direct from a farmer.

The best would be to buy from an organic farmer, who truly allows the chickens to roam free. The highest quality is produced from chickens that eat a truly natural diet by picking at the ground. They should not be fed a grain based chicken feed. This is far too different than what they would eat in a truly natural environment.

There is just so much wrong with the way chickens are kept for the vast majority of farms in the US. This produces inferior food for us. Making the effort to find this kind of chicken will pay off big time in your health.

You may be able to find this kind of chicken at farmers markets, or small health food stores.

Watch out for a lot of gimmicky marketing in relation to chicken, such as Omega 3 chicken. These are from chickens fed grain based chicken feed, so will actually be harmful to you. There's even vegan fed chickens. This is just a really stupid gimmick. They are fed a grain based chicken feed, and fully prevented from being able to pick at natural ground (since they'd eat things not vegan). And if you're eating chicken, it's not vegan. If it sounds gimmicky, walk away.

The health benefits of this kind of meat is well documented, and well worth the extra cost.

This is a nice article about real, free range chickens:

Fresh fruits and vegetables should be organic.

This reduces a number of toxic chemicals that can cause harm to humans. When you are required to eat gluten free, you will need to reduce all unnecessary stress on your stomach, so that it has a better chance of healing. Using organic fresh fruits and vegetables will go a long way to achieving this.

Each year a US report is created by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) listing the most and least pesticide contaminated common produce in the US. It is useful to know where to put your initial focus on what to buy organic and what can be lower on your priority list. I'd suggest that if a crop is not on the EWG "Clean 15" list on the below listed site, that you buy organic.

Consumer Reports has also published a report. They have a nice summary of residues on both conventional and organic produce. This is a good place to start if this is a new topic for you, and it gives good detail, but in a readable format.

They found that all organic produce has consistently been tested to show low or very low levels of residue. This can make you confident that organic is a good way to go. A link to their summary page on pesticide residues is linked below.

For anyone who really wants to dig into the full datasets of the EPA residue testing, they can find that at the bottom link below. This will include the most recent reported data.

Lemon juice and lemon zest should be made from fresh, organic lemons. Bottled lemon juice often has additives that can cause digestive issues, including preservatives and flavorings. Lemons have not been tested by the EPA for pesticide residue. Three other citrus fruits have been tested, and all of them are midway between the least and most residue contamination. Tangerines rank 22nd, grapefruit ranks 24th, and oranges rank 27th. Since organic produce for other fruits and vegetables have consistently had less residue, you should buy only organic lemons.

Shallots have not been tested by the EPA for pesticide residue. Since organic produce for other fruits and vegetables have consistently had less residue, you should buy only organic shallots.

Avocados are on the EWG Clean 15 list of the least contaminated produce. They rank 1st on their list. However, they have not been tested since 2012. At the time fewer than 1 percent of conventional avocados tested positive for pesticides. Only one pesticide was found on any of the 360 avocados sampled. They should be purchased as organic.

Tomatoes are listed as #9 on the EWG "Dirty Dozen" list (2018). Nearly four pesticides were detected on the average conventionally grown tomato. One sample of conventional tomatoes contained 15 different pesticides and breakdown products. They should be purchased as organic.

Lettuce is not on the EWG "Clean 15" list (2018). They rank 15th out of 48 for contamination. They should be purchased as organic.

Check out these 4 articles. The first 2 show this year's EWG report on pesticide contamination, and will be updated automatically based on the current year. The third article is the Consumer Reports summary page for pesticide residue on produce, including conventional and organic, and domestic and imported. The fourth article is the direct link to the EPA residue testing site, where you can do further research:

You want to buy 100% certified organic spices, with no additional additives, labeled gluten free, and labeled to state that no anti-caking agents or additives have been used.

100% organic certified products will contain no GM substances, and will not be irradiated. Without anti-caking agents, they can stick together. This is easily solved by stirring with a clean tool prior to using, if it has clumped together.

Note that when it says only Organic, it can contain small amounts of synthetic and GM substances (up to 5%). Many chemicals used in spices are not required to be labeled, thus you want 100% Certified Organic, and statements noting no additional additives used.

Spices should be used up within about 6 months. Any older and they can spoil, and will lose any benefits, and the flavor will fade.

To read more about spices and anti-caking agents, check out these 2 articles on our site:

Check out these other 2 articles on buying good spices and what the term Organic means:

Fresh herbs and spices should be 100% certified organic.

This reduces a number of toxic chemicals that can cause harm to humans. When you are required to eat gluten free, you will need to reduce all unnecessary stress on your stomach, so that it has a better chance of healing. Using organic fresh fruits and vegetables will go a long way to achieving this.

Consumer Reports has also published a report. They have a nice summary of residues on both conventional and organic produce. This is a good place to start if this is a new topic for you, and it gives good detail, but in a readable format.

They found that all organic produce has consistently been tested to show low or very low levels of residue. This can make you confident that organic is a good way to go. A link to their summary page on pesticide residues is linked below.

Testing specifically on fresh and dried herbs and spices is more limited, and has not been done as consistently as other produce. Some of the testing that has been done, mostly on conventionally grown herbs and spices, is showing much higher pesticide residues than on other common fresh produce. For this reason, all fresh and dried spices and herbs should only be purchased as 100% certified organic.

A good option is also to grown you own herbs. Many herbs can be easily grown in small pots, even if just on your window sill in your kitchen. It is then possible to completely control what goes on them and into the soil.

Check out these 4 articles. The first is the Consumer Report on pesticide residues in general. The second article explains what the different versions of organic labeling mean. The third article is the USDA report on pesticide residues on organic produce. The fourth article is a pesticide report specifically on fresh and dried herbs and spices, in a limited market in the US:

Look for organic apple cider vinegar, labeled gluten free, and preferably unpasteurized, with the "mother."

Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the "mother," is very good for most people. Some people will count this as a super food.

This vinegar can be used any time vinegar is called for. It does have a unique flavor, but for most recipes this can be a suitable vinegar.

Be sure to read the label, to ensure it only contains apple cider vinegar. The additives added to some brands cause varying levels of digestive upset, and should be avoided.

Bragg’s is a brand of this specific type of apple cider vinegar that is quite well known, and as of 2018 creates a superior product. Check out the link below (I am NOT an affiliate).

To learn more about vinegar, check out this article:

You can make homemade Dijon Mustard here, on our site, that is gluten free (as well as other types of mustard).

If you are buying Dijon mustard, you will want to find some prepared without regular vinegar. Most white vinegar is made from gluten containing grains. Legally, most vinegar is gluten free, as the whole protein is partially broken down.

However, in practice, many people still react to these kinds of vinegars. Malt vinegar is not gluten free, as it's prepared differently, and still contains the whole gluten protein.

Buy varieties that contain naturally gluten free vinegar, such as apple cider, or cane sugar vinegar. To be sure, contact the manufacturer and inquire about how it's made.

Read the label to ensure it has no food additives, as many will cause stomach upset.

For additional reading on mustard, check out this article:

You want to look for organic, extra virgin olive oil, with some sort of certification seal, such as NAOOA (The North American Olive Oil Association). It should be in a dark bottle, and will not be cheap. It should be used up within 2 years of harvest or bottling date. If it smells or tastes off, then try a different brand.

There has been some reported fraud cases of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the last decade.

When you dig into the actual facts of the claims, there is a big conflict of interest. The sponsors of the studies were actually olive oil producers who were really trying to promote their own products over their competitors. These studies have also not been able to be repeated.

There are some gaps in the current testing methods. There is no true way at the moment to test for 100% accuracy of high quality extra virgin olive oil.

However, there is some certification that will give you a higher chance of getting good quality oil, such as the NAOOA seal on the bottle.

For additional reading on olive oil, check out these 5 articles:

You want to look for blue cheese that is raw organic. Non-homogenized, organic is preferred if you can’t find raw. Find a high end grocer who carries some organic cheeses, and be sure to read the ingredients. It should contain only food ingredients (and bacteria, as this is required for Blue cheese). Never buy Ultra High Temperature (UHT), or Ultra-Pasteurized dairy; you will need to carefully check the label, as it's not always obvious. It should also be labeled gluten free.

Check out these articles on raw cheeses and general dairy products:

Ingredients:
8 slices Thick-cut bacon, chopped
4 Large eggs
  Sea salt
2 Skinless, boneless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
1 Lemon, zested into wide strips, and juice
2 Bay leaves
2 Fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon Black peppercorns
1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
1/2 Shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  Freshly ground black pepper
2 Avocados
2 Vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 large head Bibb lettuce, torn into pieces
2 heads Romaine lettuce, cut into pieces
4 ounces Blue cheese, crumbled
Directions:
  • Cook the bacon in a pan over medium heat, stirring until crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  • Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, cover, remove from the heat and let stand for about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain. Run under cold water to cool. Peel under cold running water. Chop the hard-cooked eggs and season with sea salt.
  • Remove the thyme leaves from the stems. Discard the stems.
  • Combine the chicken, lemon zest and juice, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and a generous pinch of sea salt in a medium saucepan. Add cold water to cover the chicken by 1/2 inch. Bring barely to a simmer over medium heat (do not boil) and cook until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees F, about 7 minutes (use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part). Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let rest for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
Dressing:
  1. Whisk the vinegar, shallots, Dijon Mustard and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a serving dish or bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until blended (emulsified). Season with pepper. Dice the cooked chicken and toss with 1 tablespoon of dressing in a separate bowl.
  2. Halve, pit and dice the avocados. Season the tomatoes with sea salt. Add the Bibb and romaine lettuce to the serving dish or bowl on top of the dressing. Arrange the bacon, hard-cooked eggs, chicken, avocados, tomatoes and blue cheese in rows or nice piles on top of the lettuce. When ready to serve, toss the salad and season with sea salt and pepper.

The dressing can instead be served in a dressing decanter, then people can add the amount that they want.

Variations:
This salad can have the ingredients adjusted depending on what you have on hand, or if there is one particular thing you don't like that's on the list. Mix it up, and enjoy!
FREE Guide to get you started
10 Steps to Healthy Gluten Free Eating
The free 10 Step Guide is packed full of tips, tricks, recipes and regular Member only tips to get you started on the road to healthy gluten free living.
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Gluten free quick start booklet on top of meal preparation
10 Steps to Healthy
Gluten Free Eating
 
The free 10 Step Guide is packed full of tips, tricks, recipes and regular member only tips to get you started on the road to healthy gluten free living.
Gluten free quick start booklet on top of meal preparation
10 Steps to Healthy
Gluten Free Eating
 
The free 10 Step Guide is packed full of tips, tricks, recipes and regular member only tips to get you started on the road to healthy gluten free living.
Gluten free quick start booklet on top of meal preparation
10 Steps to Healthy
Gluten Free Eating
 
The free 10 Step Guide is packed full of tips, tricks, recipes and regular member only tips to get you started on the road to healthy gluten free living.