Sunday, December 12, 2010

Red Tomato and Bell Pepper Soup

I used to like the occasional tomato soup, and I love bell peppers, so the recipe sounded good except of course it had some things I was allergic to in it, and it was meant as a cold soup. I am not big on cold soups with onion in them, so I altered the recipe slightly, and we tried cooking it. YUM! I actually like this with all the veggies blended and run through the strainer, cuz then you can drink it like a hot cup of soup should be drunk on a winter lay a bed morning. But if you're wanting something to chew, prep and cook this as stated:


3 medium plum tomatoes
2 yellow bell peppers
1 small red onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3 cups tomato juice (low sodium)
1 1/2 cups non fat plain yogurt (dannon)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper


Chop vegetables, blend 1/2 vegetables and strain through fine strainer. Cook in a soup pot on medium for 10 minutes. Add remaining chopped vegetables. Can be served cool or hot. Delicous with shrimp if you're a seafood eater.

Number of Servings: 6

This soup was great as is, but also great all blended together, and then run through a strainer, and at one point we cooked up some sea food to go in it and that was delicious too since I"m a flexitarian not a vegetarian LOL but for those who are into veggies only, never fear, this is yummy and has a healthy supply of vitamin C for ya!

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Whole Wheat, Mixed Berry Orange Scones

    OK I edited this recipe so I can eat it without getting hives. So you could substitute brown sugar or honey for the 2 tablespoons blackberry preserves and you'd get a less dense result. As it is, just be aware they're going to taste more like a 12 grain bread than your average scone. But since I haven't been able to eat any prepackaged breads cuz of the yeast, that was a welcome treat for me. I almost want to call them something other than scones, but I just wasn't just what else to call them since I took them from a scone recipe and they look like whole wheat scones. They're a lot heart healthier and waist line friendlier than store bought scones. So give em a shot, and let me know what you think.


      *Pam Olive Oil Cooking Spray, 1 tbsp *Flour, Whole Wheat Pastry, 1 cup *Teff Flour, 0.25 cup Steel Cut Oats, dry, 1 cup 1/4 cup Whey Protein 1/4 cup Low Fat Dry Milk Powder *Chia Seed, 2 tbsp Baking Powder, 2 tsp Baking Soda, .5 tsp Salt, 1 tsp *Fat Free Plain Yogurt, 1 cup *Sugar Free Blackberry Preserve, 2 tbsp Orange Juice, 2 tbsp *Dried ground orange rind, 2 tsp Mixed Berries, 1 cup (I used raspberry and blueberry)


    Makes 10 Scones.

    Preheat oven to 400. Coat baking sheet lightly with cooking spray.

    Wisk together all dry ingredients (flours, oats, dream protein, chia seeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt).

    In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients (yogurt, perserves, orange juice, orange rind).

    Make a well in the dry mixture then fold in the wet mixture and berries. Stir until just combined.

    Drop onto baking sheet in 1/4 cup scoops. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Since they are made with wheat flour, it may be difficult to tell when they are browned, so you can also check with a toothpick, and remove when the toothpick comes out clean.

    I put 5 in a plastic baggie and 5 in an air tight bag with the air removed then froze them. This way I'm not tempted to eat too many at a time.

    They are about 150 calories each, with 28 grams carbs, 4.5 grams fiber, and 6 grams of protein. Not bad for a scone! And since they're made with whole grains, and less than 2 grams of fat, they're heart healthy too. Try them with some almond butter or brummel and brown and no sugar added fruit preserves. DELISH! Or if you're not allergic to honey, I bet they're amazing with honey and butter spread of your choice. 

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Rewriting recipes for allergies, avoiding micro contaminants

    Sorry for my silence, I've had a series of surgeries since July. Most recently November 16th I was in surgery for 8 hours. All went well, and I'm healing up nicely. It's more challenging than expected, but I have wonderful support in Patch, Carlie, Jenn, and friends like Milo and Henry stopping by to keep me company and give Patch and Carlie breaks. Doctor Heather Miracle Maven even stopped by for a home visit right after surgery.

    Since Jenn helped me type up my allergies to put on the fridge and take to the nutritionist at the surgical center, I have been doing much better about avoiding allergens. Nothing I have intentionally put into my mouth has made me sick. 3 things have given me allergic reactions: Magnesium Citrate used for surgical prep. They gave me Lemon/Lime, and it turns out I had instant hives. Some pain med in the hospital (have to find out which one, Jenn wrote it down) and a roasted almond that crept onto a plate of "ants on a log" I'd made for Thanksgiving appetizers.  

    I also was diagnosed as prediabetic, although I have gotten my numbers down over the last couple of months through exercise and dietary changes. Just paying attention to portion sizes and trying to get the omega 3, calcium, fruits and vegetables, fiber and protein seem to be enough of a change for me to really see significant changes. I lost 40 pounds before surgery, making my surgeon VERY happy.

    One thing I've been doing since I've been laid up is to read a recipe in a diabetes magazine, or some other health magazine, and rewrite it so that the person cooking for me can make it. The hardest thing to avoid seems to be sugars. I'm not allowed to have AT ALL  the following items until after at least 2 months (I decided on February in order to give myself and those who sometimes cook for me time to get used to avoiding the nono list) and one of them (yeast) did sneak in on Thanksgiving in the form of a roasted almond (why they put yeast in the powder on the almond I do not know) but I think that's OK, because I'll still be allergin free for 2 months. It was scary and itchy with the swelling up of the lips and throat, but I never had a problem breathing, the benedril was enough and the EPI Pen never had to be used. After February I may start adding certain things back SLOWLY into my diet such as corn, beef, and bananas. But that is a whole process of one item a week, so VERY slowly adding them back into the diet and seeing home my body responds. For now, we are being HYPER careful to avoid the things on the Prohibited Foods List:

    Here's the Prohibited Foods list for the next 2 months:
    Apple, Banana, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Pineapple, Plum, Watermelon

    Hops, Millet, White Flour

    Nuts and Seeds:
    Pecan, Sesame
    Baker's Yeast, Black tea, Brewer's Yeast, Cilantro, Ginger, Green Tea, Lavendar, Mustard, Vanilla, Chocolate, drinking Alcohol, Soy
    Beef, Chicken, Codfish, Salmon, Crab, Eggs, Lamb (shoot, glad I typed this up, was gonna have Carlie cook up some lamb stew in the crock pot for tonight)

    Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Corn, Cucumber, White potatoes, Mushroom, Squash
    Maple Syrup
    Cane Sugar (or ANY Processed sugars)
    High Fructose Corn Syrup


    Some of these foods are harder to avoid than others. For example carrots show up in many packaged foods that don't have sugar, apples or bananas are a common replacement for sweetener or eggs when baking, and generally avoiding beef and chicken means it is virtually impossible to eat out. 

    Now that i'm getting used to the list tho, we are doing a lot of cooking from whole foods at home which means we know EXACTLY what is in everything, and we are doing a lot of vigilant label reading. I do find it difficult when other people are cooking for me to stand strong on things that in miniscule amounts. For example Carlie made turkey chili, and she always uses the same kind of pinto beans. So she read the ingredients to me and there wasn't anything until the very end when it said ingredients that are in such small amounts we couldn't measure them and included sugar. Now I'm not actually allergic to sugars, but it triggers inflamation and itching in my body. So last night and today I have been incredibly itchy, and the only thing I ate that could have caused it was that chili. Still, I love her turkey chili and that she made it for me. It's an altered recipe already because it's turkey not beef. It is really hard to stand firm and say no, not even a miniscule amount of sugar. If I wasn't laid up postoperatively it would be easier because I could just put pinto beans in the crock pot with some spices and veggie stock and they'd be ready for her when she got home from work to make the turkey chili she wanted to make. Instead, I felt a bit like don't look a gift horse in the mouth. I don't want to make her care taking any more difficult on her than it has to be, and I honestly didn't think it would really cause a difference.

    So far tho, since I started avoiding the things I'm intolerant of I have noticed that tiny bits of them really do have more severe consequences than before. I wonder why?

    Well I will leave you with thought. If you can't have honey, and you want to replace it with something thick and syrupy but have been told maple syrup and agave are also out of the question what do you replace it with? So far most people use apples. I am currently highly intolerant of apple, and it's on the prohibited food list. However peaches, berries, and pear aren't, so I've been using them as sweeteners. I love watching the cooking channel, and remembered learning once that if I cook down pears they create their own sort of carmelization and become a thick honey like substance. So here's my recent attempt at a honey substitute.

    1 can pears packed in their own juice and water, blended, cooked on medium until lightly carmelized and thickened to slightly more runny than honey consistency. As it cools it thickens. I am going to put it in an air tight container and try saving some to see how it turns out. I will be using this in an attempt to make my own granola. Will let you know how it turns out. If it's any good, I will share the recipe!

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    What Do I Do With Those Jack-o-Lanterns Now? Making the Most of Pumpkin Dollars Spent

    I love summer squash, but apparently I'm allergic to it. My allergist gave me a list of foods to avoid, and among them were squash, summer squash, butternut squash, and all my favorite kinds of squash. However Pumpkin was not included. So I decided to use some of the leftover pumpkin from Halloween in the place of butternut squash and ended up with some delicious soup that friends are raving about. I still felt it needed something, but wasn't sure what until I realized adding black beans cooked in light salt did the trick. I will share the recipe here for those who are interested in something other than pumpkin pie to do with your leftover pumpkin this season. And by the way, I find mixing in some pumpkin puree from baking pumpkins really boosts the flavor when using fresh jack-o-lantern leftovers.

    Before I give you that recipe, I should share some tips and tricks I learned both from my mother, and the internet about making the most of your jack-o-lanterns. If you carve pumpkins, do so the day before, or the day of Halloween. When they are burning, keep an eye on your pumpkins making sure that they are properly ventilated and the candle isn't eating away at viable resources nor leaving a huge scorch mark on the outside of your masterpiece. Or, you can paint or draw on the skin with non toxic markers or paint. After all, you're going to cut away the skin before turning the leftovers into pumpkin puree anyway. And if you don't cut into the pumpkin for Halloween, it lasts longer. We did some of each.

    Save your pumpkin seeds of course, they can be baked and saved for a healthy snack. We found soaking them in a large bowl 1/2 filled with water and a tablespoon of whatever flavoring was a great method. Thanks for the suggestion, Logan! I made 3 flavors and one plain since we had 4 jack-o-lanterns and a baking pumpkin giving up their seeds. I then baked them on a baking sheet covered in foil and sprayed with cooking oil at 325 degrees F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. My favorite flavor is lightly salted with paprika, but sugar and cinnamon turned out good too, and we also made garlic and plain. Get creative!

    When you are done showing off your gorgeous pumpkin carvings, painted pumpkins, etc. you are ready to start cooking, freezing, composting, and generally using up the leftovers. You can use a potato peeler to peel the skin off the sides. I find cutting off the top and bottom and putting them in the compost bin (or trash if you don't compost) a great way to avoid wax and candle damage. You will want to do this the day after Halloween or put the thing in the fridge to make it last a couple days longer, but the sooner you cut it up, the more usable pumpkin you will have.  Using a sharp knife and remembering our knife safety, we cut the sides of the pumpkin in strips and cut away the inside which had been exposed to the air, the heat of the candle, flies, etc. We then cut the strips into cubes about 1 by 1 by 1 inch or so. Keeping the mass of the pumpkin pieces equivalent makes for more even cooking later.

    Once the pumpkin flesh is cubed, you can place it in freezer safe containers, baggies, or best yet, food saver packages so they are frozen in bags with all the air removed. This will make them last longest and avoid freezer burn. The liquid naturally found in the cells of the pumpkin will freeze breaking down the pumpkin flesh and making it turn into a smoother product when made into puree later. It also has the added advantage of intensifying the sweetness and flavor of the pumpkin.

    You can do this in a slow cooker, mine is working on some right now, or on the stove. Place enough water to cover the bottom of the container, place the pumpkin in the container, turn the heat up, cover and let steam. In a slow cooker on low, it will take about 4 to 6 hours but it varies depending if the pumpkin was fresh or frozen, how thick it was, how small you cut the pieces, etc. so keep an eye on it the first time until you sort out how long you need to steam it. I did forget my pumpkin was in the slow cooker one day and left it in 3 hours longer than necessary. Not a pleasant clean up job. If doing this on the stove, it will go faster. When the pumpkin is a darker orange and easily cut with a fork, it is ready. Remove from the heat and let cool. Do not drain, those juices are useful! You can place the container into the refrigerator to speed cooling if you're impatient after smelling all that pumpkin yumness emanating from the pot. When the pumpkin is cool, pour the steamed pumpkin chunks and juices into a blender. Blend on medium speed. You may find that you need to use a spatula or other tool to pres the pumpkin on the top down towards the blades. Now you can store the pumpkin puree in an air tight container. I kept mine in the refrigerator because I was not sure about proper pumpkin puree storage when it is home made. The store bought stuff can be kept in the cupboard, but since I wasn't canning mine, I thought it better to simply toss it in the fridge. Better safe than sorry right?!

    Now for the piece de resistance...

      1.5 cups fresh pumpkin 
      1 medium sweet potato 
      1.5 cups pumpkin puree 
      2 cups organic, low sodium french onion soup 
      1 cup water 
      1/2 cup red onion 
      2 cloves garlic 
      1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
      1/2 tsp sage 
      1/4 tsp cumin 
      1/4 tsp curry powder 
      1 tbsp lime juice 
      1 cup almond milk

    Mince (or finely chop) 2 cloves garlic and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes in order to best release the immune boosting properties of the garlic.Chop leftover pumpkin into 1/2 inch cubes, approximately 1.5 cups worth. Chop 1 medium sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes as well and set aside with pumpkin. Chop 1/2 a red onion into small pieces and set aside.
    In a medium or large sauce pan, put 2 cups organic, low sodium french onion soup and 1 cup of water on to boil. 

    Heat a non stick frying pan to medium. Add onion and 1/2 a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Carmelize and add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 tsp sage, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp curry powder and cook 30 more seconds. Then add the mixture to the boiling soup and turn down to low.

    Add 1.5 cups pumpkin puree, fresh pumpkin, and 1 medium chopped sweet potato to soup, stir, and cover partially. Cook for 10 more minutes, or until the pumpkin and sweet potato are soft. 

    Let soup cool and add 1/2 to blender. Blend till smooth, then pour back into soup pan through a fine sieve. Stir, and pour the rest into the blender. Blend thuroughly and pour back through sieve. You will need to use a spatula to help smooth the soup through the sieve. The herbs and pieces of onion which didn't blend will be left in the sieve.

    Mix 1 cup almond milk and 1 tablespoon lime juice into mixture and serve! You can serve this soup cold or hot. I found it was a perfect lunch with black beans cooked in a light amount of salt, drained, and then added in just before serving.

    Makes 7 servings about 1 cup each. 

    Let me know how you like it, or if you try it with any substitutions please pass them along to me, I'm always looking for new ideas.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    I've lost about 50 pounds since this blog started!

    Hey all,

    I was about 280 when this blog started, and now I'm almost down to about 230! I am so excited! And happy to say, I have been learning all sorts of new things to eat and ways to prepare food that is healthy and delicious! It's been quite a journey and my most recent part was getting my tonsils out and trying to remain healthy on a liquid diet. I gotta tell you, that was not easy. I added a lot of protein powder into my drinks. Tried adding it into other things but it honestly tasted disgusting in anything but smoothies. I did however find some really delicious ways to get a day's calories with all the protein, antioxidants and minerals and vitamins that I possibly could. I'll post one of my favorite post tonsillectomy beverages below.

    One of those was was to drink Greens First, which just tasted like tea, but had all sorts of important nutrients packed into each glass. Unfortunately it turns out "Greens First" the fruit and vegetable antioxidant I tried has broccoli in it, and I'm allergic to the stuff. But otherwise it was a great way to get fiber and nutrients into my diet so my allergist said go for it, the broccoli is just a mild allergy. I have to tell you, my inflamation and pain sky rocketed! I felt like my health was deteriorating. All the progress I've made in 2010 was going down the tube and that was depressing. Thankfully I realized what was happening and stopped drinking the stuff. Surprise surprise, the pain and inflammation was gone within 48 hours! I think sometimes even allergists don't realize how much a "small" allergy can be detrimental to someone's health. Especially someone with other immune conditions or other health concerns.

    Recently I joined (it's FREE) and I have been entering my post tonsillectomy recipes on their recipe page. If you're a spark person, you can see those I've entered so far at

    Otherwise, give this one a shot :) It does include whey protein which is made from milk, so if you're caesin intolerant or a vegan, replace it with your own favorite protein powder. If you have no sugar concerns and don't have a sore throat, toss a banana in there, it's delicious. But bananas are a high source of sugar so if you're diebetic better avoid them, or you just had throat surgery, they're like acid to your system. Truly horridly painful, I can attest. Hence, no banana in this recipe despite my fondness for the little yellow things.

    Coconut Mango Smoothie:
      1/2 cup frozen mango 
      1/2 cup coconut milk, unsweetened 
      1/2 scoop Dream Protein, Vanilla


    toss it all in a blender and away you go! I like to start on a low blender speed and go up to high for a few seconds until it reaches a creamy consistency then go back to low speed and open the lid carefully to whip in a bit of air until the drink is frothy. Serve and enjoy!

    Number of Servings: 1

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Lemony Crusted Polenta

    Many know my love for polenta. I was overjoyed when I found polenta recipes in a recently purchased cook book. But I noticed they were all a bit similar. One of the things I love about polenta is that there are so many different ways to serve it. I love making it from scratch, but recently patch brought home a tube of premade plain polenta, and I must admit, it is much simpler to just slice off a few pieces and has lead to me getting creative in how I heat it. So far I've tried heating it in the microwave, the toaster oven, the oven, and of course on the stove top.

    Since I've recently begun tracking my food on spark people, I have been trying to limit artery clogging fats but incorporate those fats which can help heart health. Often the suggested meal plans include olive oil. Since I was cooking up some polenta anyway, I thought I'd use the Meyer Lemon Olive Oil I bought which comes from right here in Arizona. (Olives do grow well in our climate) I know it's been a while since I shared a recipe or posted anything here, but hopefully this one is worth it.

    Lemony Crusted Polenta:
    Premade Tube of Plain Polenta (makes 5 servings, 2 to 3 slices per serving)
    1/4 cup Almond Milk
    1/4 cup Progresso Italian Flavored Bread Crumbs
    1/8 cup Hard Italian Cheese of your choice grated fine (I used Parmesian and Romano mixed)
    2 - 3 tablespoons Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
    large frying pan

    Slice polenta into 5 sections then slice each section into 2 or 3 rounds depending on your prefered thickness. I like them rather thin, but they can tend to fall apart more that way so use a sharp knife and slice carefully.
    Pour almond milk into a bowl and dip polenta rounds into almond milk
    Mix Bread Crumbs and finely grated cheese in small bowl then coat each round in bread crumbs

    Heat large frying pan on high, then turn down a bit and coat bottom of pan with lemon flavored olive oil. Carefully lay polenta rounds on pan with 1/8 to 1/4 inch between them. They will sizzle and pop if the pan is hot enough, so be careful. After 15-20 seconds flip and if they're not browned enough cook a bit longer then flip again. Cook till nicely browned n each side then remove from heat and serve!

    It's delicous! Sometimes I eat these for lunch with a serving of deli sliced turkey sprinkled with a small amount of grated italian cheese for a little lean protein.

    There are some great gluten free alternatives to making bread crumbs that I'd be happy to share if anyone's interested, but this morning I was going for quick and easy since no one eating was gluten intolerant. And if you're vegan just leave off the cheese or substitute it for some potent vegan pseudo cheese

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Post tonsilectomy eats

    I've been keeping track of my food and liquid intake since getting my tonsils and lower part of my uvula out monday morning. Doing this at the request of a doctor, so I am being very specific. only the cool liquids are currently not making throat pain worse. And i have found drinking plenty of ice water reduces the pain. So I'm consistantly drinking sips of iced or cooled water or chewing ice chips throughout my day and night whenever I'm not sleeping or typing. Some of the results have been tasty and I may post some specific recipes as I get them perfected. My main concern has been how to get enough protein and not overload on sugar while primarily eating liquid and soft cool foods. Suggestions are welcome! In the mean time, here's the list:

    Monday sept 13th - (between noon and 11:30PM)
    20 oz water * 4
    20 oz ice chips * 2
    8 oz beef broth
    8 oz lactaid
    8 oz vanilla nonfat sugsar free yogurt
    8 oz lowfat strawberry yoplait
    1 berry popsicle
    10 oz creamy potatoe soup broth
    8 oz apple juice
    8 oz grape juice

    Tuesday Sept 14th -
    Early AM:
    20 oz water
    8 oz lowfat strawberry yoplait
    20 oz ice chip
    8 oz apple juice (mixed with water gradually)
    20 oz water
    20 oz ice chips
    8 oz lowfat peach yogurt
    8 oz apple sauce
    16 oz creamy sweet potatoe broth
    16 oz freshly juiced apple, celery and pear
    20 oz ice water
    20 oz ice water
    4 oz nonfat sugar free yogurt + 4 oz coconut milk + 3/4 scoop whey protein
    4 oz creamy sweet potatoe broth + 4 oz apple/pear/celery juice + 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    40 oz water
    16 oz ice chips
    2 servings instant mashed tatoes extra creamy
    8 oz lowfat milk
    20 oz water
    4 oz greek yogurt (plain, lowfat, low sugar)
    1 tblspn berry antioxidents
    1 tblspn honey
    2nd Dinner:
    1 cup blended, cooked black beans
    with 1 tablespoon chedderella
    20 oz water * 3
    4 oz vanilla gelato
    Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.9

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Juicer Recipes and Such

    I have a tonsilectomy and shaving of the uvula (the little punching bag shaped thing in the back of your mouth) coming up tomorrow... and afterwards I'll be on a liquid diet for a week, and then maybe liquid and soft foods. I'm not supposed to have chicken or carrots which are in a lot of broth and juices, and no citric acid for a couple weeks either, which is in most juices.

    At first after surgery I will only be able to drink water and suck on ice chips, but as my throat heals I'll be able to drink broth and fruit and vegetable juices. Since we're not happy with the list of suggested things they say you can have after surgery, we decided to juice our own fruits and veggies. Water and chicken broth were the healthiest options they also mentioned jello and later, pudding and ice cream. Not really good nutritional value right?  Luckily we have a juicer a friend gave us.

    Here's some recipes we might try and some tips on juicing I found:

    Beat Juice from the RawFoodWitch. Google is amazing LOL thing is, she does include carrots but I know they're mostly for the sweatness so I thought maybe we could mix in some peach juice instead.

    •1 Beet, leafs and all

    •4 Carrots

    •3 Celery Stalks

    •1 Fuji Apple (can be replaced with any type of apple)

    Juice for a Healthy Liver

    - 1/2 beet with greens

    - 3 apples

    Alkaline Special

    ¼ head cabbage (red or green)

    3 stalks of celery

    The Waldorf

    1 stalk celery

    2 apples

    Sweet Green Juice

    1 cucumber

    1 carrot (maybe replace with a slice of cantalope)

    1 green apple

    ¼ cup parsley

    ¼ cup mint

    1 stalk of celery

    ½ inch of fresh ginger

    ½ lemon (peeled)

    Green Supreme

    1 apple

    1 cup of spinach

    1 cup of kale

    1 cup of parsley

    Apple Pie Juice

    3 Apples

    1 potatoe

    1/2 teaspoon cinamon

    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

    Alkaline Veggie Juice

    - 1 cup of spinach

    - 1/2 cucumber

    - 2 stalks of celery including leaves

    - 1 apple

    Apple and Cucumber Zipper (not till my throat heals some, maybe 2nd week, but this sounds yummy)

    - 2 1/2 apples

    - 1/2 cucumber

    - 1″ of ginger

    Green Juice Recipes Energizer

    - 2 apples

    - 1/2 cucumber

    - 1/2 lemon (peeled)

    - 1/2 cup of kale

    - 1/2 cup of spinach

    - 1/4 bunch of celery

    - 1/4 bulb of fennel

    - 1″ of ginger

    - 1/4 head of romaine lettuce

    That's probably enough for now. I'm sure we'll come up with some interesting ones along the way. Maybe I'll post the ones I like best here so my friends can share in what I learn. The doctor suspects I'll lose about 15 pounds after my surgery, which isn't a bad thing at all. I'm looking forward to hopefully keeping it off afterwards even tho I'll resume solid foods, they can be healthy choices.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Gluten-free Baked Cucumber Fries

    If you've tasted zuchini fries, you'll enjoy these. Tho they aren't actually fried, I decided to keep calling them fries because that's what people are used to. I recommend you use egg substitute if allergic to eggs as I am, it works just fine for this purpose. So, I promised I would share the recipe if they tasted good, and here it is:

    Gluten-free Baked Cucumber Fries:
    2 medium cucumbers
    1/4 cup egg or substitute
    1/4 cup teff flour
    1/4 cup All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I used the stuff from Bob's Mill)
    1 tablespoon white cheddar cheese powder (or appropriate vegan substitute)
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    Spray oil
    baking tray/cookie sheet

    Preheat oven to 475
    Cut cucumbers in thirds and then each third into halves and then each half into thirds again. (equal portions makes for equal cooking time)
    Mix dry ingredients (flour and cheese mixture)
    Coat cucumber slices in egg substitute
    coat cucumber slices in flour mixture
    spray baking tray with spray oil
    Place coated cucumber slices on tray so they are not touching

    Place in oven for 3 minutes, then turn 1/3 and spray lightly with cooking oil. 3 more minutes, then repeat, cook for 3 more minutes or until golden brown.

    These were so delicious I ate the entire batch for lunch. They were crunchy on the outside, soft and hot on the inside. YUM!  Happy birthday to me!

    My Birthday Delights

    It's my birthday and I'll eat if (and how) I want to!

    For breakfast Patch is making me pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. YUM! She's making it right now (yes, I slept in for my birthday)

    I think I'll try making baked cucumber strips today with cucumber from the garden for lunch. Here's the recipe from delish I'm thinking of: although I am planning to use gluten free flour in order to test out the recipe and if it works, I'll make some for a friend of mine on a gluten free diet some time. If it turns out to be great, I'll post the recipe.

    I know, shock of all shockers, we have a garden in the desert. It requires a special flooding technique to grow fruits and vegetables in our back yard. Twice a week Patch and Carlie drag the hose over there and flood the 6 by 6 area we've designated for growing fruits and vegetables. They've built it with ridges all around, so it's easy to flood between the ridges. So far we've really enjoyed the cantalope and cucumbers. It looks like the corn will be ready next. Things seem to be growing in alphabetical order which is hilarious. I wonder if the watermelon will be ready last. Speaking of which, if you want a watermelon and live in the area, please do let us know. Patch and Carlie won't be able to eat them all on their own.

    I am allergic to watermelon. On a funny side note, we did not plant the melons, they were in the compost. If you don't want things you've eaten to magically grow in your garden, throw the seeds in the trash. But if you enjoy surprise fruits and vegetables, put those seeds in your compost. That's how we got our tomatoe bush as well. It grew right out the side of the compost bin. Composting our fruits and vegetables mixed with a slight bit of starter manure from the horse stable down the street has been the real miracle key to growing things in the desert. Now we have grown beans, cantalope, cucumber, corn, peas, tomatoes and watermelon. The beans sprouted and then died because the weather really did get too hot for those spindly little vines to stand up to. But I can see growing them again at the begining of next spring.

    For my birthday dinner we will be eating food from The Original Burrito Company over in Ahwatukee. They recently moved into the building KFC used to inhabit. It's even got a drive through! I am so happy for them that they have been able to expand their business in such a way. Local, family run businesses doing well makes my heart happy. So supporting a local family owned business on my birthday and eating a special treat from my favorite restaurant is a great combination. So although I'm intolerant to chicken, I'm going to have a big ol' chicken, bean and cheese burrito for dinner.

    I'm not supposed to be eating cake either, but for my birthday was told by both my integrative and endocrynology doctors to splurge. So we'll be having angel food cake, strawberries and whipped cream from a spray can. Not exactly healthy, but occasionally it helps me stick to eating healthy foods if I splurge with the occasional sweet treat that reminds me of the foods we ate growing up. Angel food cake with all it's big fluffy delight and big fresh strawberries on top reminds me of Irvine. Summer in Irvine used to mean going out to the strawberry fields and picking through the leftovers. They would sell whatever you could fit in your bag for a buck. Fresh, hand picked, and delishous strawberries! What a great sensory memory for my 39th birthday.

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Vegetarian Burrito

    Recently we got out the gluten free vegan cookbook. This is a great thing to do right before making a shopping list, because it usually requires ingredients which don't last long. In this case, as usually, it turned out to be delicious. I did have to make a few modifications due to my personal preferences and allergies, but I tried things I had thought I was allergic to and been avoiding my whole life like tomatoes. Turns out, they're delicious in a burrito! (duh)

    These can be vegan depending on what tortillas you use and how you cook your beans, or of course you could add meat if you're a raging carnivore. But they were delicioius as is, so I recomend you try them as are unless you're allergic or intollerant to something on this ingrediant list. Also, they are gluten free if you use

    large rice or hemp tortillas (gluten free)
    1 can pinto beans drained and rinsed
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large yam or 2 small yams
    1 cup chopped white onion
    1/2 cup chopped parsley
    1/2 seeded and chopped red bell pepper
    2 cloves chopped garlic
    1 cup seeded and diced tomatoe
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 tsp cumin
    2 tablespoons lime juice
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    prick yam all over and and cook through (5 to 6 minutes on high in microwave or 400 degrees for 20 minutes in the oven) rinse, strain and cook pinto beans
    while the yams cook put olive oil in a skillet on medicum high heat and sautee chopped onion, then add bel pepper and then add garlic. Sautee them all well and then add the cooked, chopped yams. Finally add the rest of the ingrediants and mix together.

    We put some of the ingredients into tortillas, had 2 burritos and saved the rest of the mixture in the fridge in an air tight container till later. It was delicious for the next 2 days whenever someone wasn't around to help and I wasn't up to the task of food prep. So it would probably be a great thing to have in the fridge for a pre-teen to pop in the microwave the next day. I just put some in a tortilla and heated it for 1 minute. Wallah! Lunch!

    I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Obviously you can tweak the recipe to your own tastes, but we loved them just like this. Even Patch and Carlie admitted to loving them. We also love this with black beans as the original recipe called for.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    FINALLY Clear Dietary Restrictions

    It has been a challenging year and I've been a bit silent this month on my food blog. For that, I apologize. The good news is, I have had my food intollerance test, gluten, candida, caeisin and sugars tested. That and more actually.

    I found out that I have a low thyroid problem, and am starting a new medicine for that tomorrow. I suspect that will help loads with my energy and weight loss. This could in large part explain why I can eat less than most people I know, but still gain weight. And why this last time I went on weight watchers it didn't work. I'm excited and hopeful.

    I also was given foods to avoid. Eventually I will try a rotational diet which is meant to help avoid building intollerances to any foods I currently can eat.

    The good news, I am NOT caesin or gluten intollerant! I now have 5 test results at 2 different times in my life saying I am not gluten intollerant in any way. I still make gluten free foods sometimes, so will post gluten free recipes along with the others...but if it doesn't say gluten free in the tags, don't assume it is please.

    I will be trying both regular nonfat milk and lactaid to see which my body processes better. I did notice that when I was gluten free I was able to drink milk and eat cheese without a negative reaction. So I suppose it was some combination perhaps of carbs and milk that was upsetting my stomach.

    My sugars were high, so I was told to cut out sugar, honey, and sodas. I'm still allowed to eat fruits (PHEW) and I believe I can still use small amounts of agave nectar or prickly pear. Which is a relief since both are in plentiful supply here in the Sonoran Desert, and I really love them both. But I will not be replacing all the sugar I drank and ate with other sweetners. I will be striving to have a balanced, low carb, low sugar, low fat way of eating. I will be not eating foods I am alergic to, and avoiding almost all foods I'm intolerant of. There were 3 lists of intollerance. Red, Orange, and Yellow. The red and orange are out. Finito. I was told I could eat the yellow. I will be eating them, but will strive not to eat too much of them, because I do not want to end up having them jump up higher on the scale of food intollerance.

    Here's a list of the foods I can not eat at this time and for at least 3 possibly 6 more months:
    Allergies: Crab (never again, Ige Allergy) Brocoli, Eggs, Squash, Watermellon, Red Zone: Carrots, Codfish (does this mean I need to avoid my fish oil pills and go back on meds for cholesterol?) Mushroom (yay!) Orange Zone: Asparagus, Black Tea, Green Tea, Oolong Tea, Chicken, Egg Yolk, Ginger, Grapefruit, Lamb, Lemon, Pecan, Plum, Sessame. And to avoid because of the candida, bakers yeast, brewer's yeast, Cane sugar, Fructose sugar, and honey.

    I think there's a few other things I'm mildly allergic to that I am not remembering offhand, but the ones I listed are the ones I started avoiding this month. And no hives since avoiding them. I forgot about the watermellon at a BBQ, and 15 minutes later had hives. I forgot about eggs being the major ingredient in the quiche muffin I tried out one day, itchy itchy scratchy scratchy. Eating things my body is intollerant to or allergic to raising the inflamatory response, and that causes more fibro pain along with the hives I've experienced in the past. This means my Fibromyalgia Syndrom will likely be helped by this new way of eating.

    Thankfully I haven't forgotten anything since. And as I learn to avoid foods that my body doesn't like, I am sure I will start feeling better. It is REALLY nice to not wake up covered in hives. I hope there's no summer heat rash in store this year either. We'll see, but I'm hopeful that if I'm not eating eggs and other things that I'm allergic to there will be no itchy hives to wake to in the middle of the summer nights this year. Wish me luck!

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Mom's amazing salads

    Visiting my mother this week and staying through mothers day, I've had the pleasure of eating several Mother cooked meals. I would say home cooked, but home is in Phoenix for me. But Mom makes some of the best salads I've ever had. I have a hard time finding salad dressings I like because I do not like slimy vegetables, and most dressings make the texture feel slimy to me. HOWEVER Mom makes a delicious black bean, mango and mint salad, and the following recipe is my new all time favorite healthy dinner. Mom admits she does not remember where she found this recipe, but she did not make it up. It sounds like a weird combo, but trust me, you will find the flavors all work together surprisingly well!

    Spinach and sweet potato salad:
    2 lg sweet potatos (peeled and cut into 1" cubes, about 1 1/4 lb)
    1/4 c olive oil
    1 tsp salt
    2 thick slices bacon (2 oz total)
    1 red bell pepper (chopped)
    1 small red onion (halved and thinly sliced)
    1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1/3 c orange juice (from 1 orange)
    1 lb fresh spinach leaves

    Heat the oven to 400 degrees F
    Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with salt and tos to coat
    Roast, turning occasionally until crisp and brown outside and just tender inside, about 30 min
    Remove from oven but leave on pan until ready to use

    Warm Dressing:
    Cook bacon in stainles steel or nonstick skillet over medium heat while potatoes roast, turning once or twice until crisp. Drain on paper towels and pour off fat, leaving any darkened bits in pan. Chop bacon. Put pan back overmedium heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. when hot, add bell pepper, onion, ginger and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. cook, stirring once or twice until no longer raw. Stir in cumin and bacon. Stir in Orange Juice and turn off heat

    Put spinach in large bowl. Add sweet potatoes, warm dressing, and f freshly ground black pepper to taste and toss to combine. taste and add salt if needed (I didn't feel it needed additional salt, but then I prefer things to have more of their own flavor, not the salts flavor)

    Nutrition per serving
    346 calories
    8 g protein
    30 g carb
    6 g fiber
    23 g fat
    5 g saturated fat
    853 mg sodium (lil more sodium than I'd like actually, may try making this with less salt when I make it at home)

    THE WHOLE THING was delicious. I liked how the warm dressing caused the spinach leaves to wilt slightly, and a single bowl of it filled me up or I would have gone back for seconds. Me goin back for seconds on a salad is pretty amazing, but not needing to because I'm full, even more amazing. And the whole thing is accidentally gluten free.

    For my vegan friends, try making this with one of your fabulous meat substitutes, I bet you'll love it.

    Happy Mothers day to all! Make every moment with your loved ones count be it a holiday or not. Now I'm off to my step sister's wedding. I promise you I will let someone take a picture of me in a tie so that you can see what I look like all cleaned up since most of you are used to seeing me in shorts and sunglasses.

    Sunday, April 25, 2010

    The Farm at South Mountain

    Today my Mom and Hal were in town and stopped by for lunch and a movie. We decided to take them to a place that serves local foods, The Farm at South Mountain. There are actually three restaurants there, but we went to the original Farm Kitchen and ate on the patio. It's beautiful, and they had a man there playing his guitar and singing. A nice, moderately priced Sunday brunch. I had the local  pulled pork sandwich, Mom and Hal had carrot soup and a really nice spicy chicken salad. I'm not remembering what Carlie had. I think I'll go back some time with friends before it closes for the summer and see what it's like during the week. There were some really nice salads that I could see my vegetarian friends enjoying, and they were willing to make my pulled pork without the cole slaw, which made me happy. I don't know what it is about the texture of cole slaw, but I have always hated the stuff.

    I will admit, there were some noisy children sitting near us who didn't help my migraine any, but after they left I found the noise levels tolerable and there was a shady spot for everyone so I was even able to take off my sunglasses for a while. It feels a bit secluded and out of the way because of all the beautiful plant life surrounding you. Exactly the kind of place I love to eat. Mom took some nice photos so maybe I'll add those to the blog once she sends them my way. In the mean time, here's a couple I snapped with my cell phone. More details:

    The Farm Kitchen 
    Picnic and Patio Lunch

    6106 South 32nd Street

    Phoenix, AZ 85042-4810

    (602) 276-7288

    The Farm Kitchen is the original restaurant at The Farm serving delicious sandwiches, fresh soups, seasonal salads and made-from-scratch baked goods. Relax alone under the shady pecan trees or bring a group to celebrate an occasion.
    "Picnic-n-Paris" : LIVE music every Sunday featuring local legend Paris James

    Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-3pm
    Open Mother's Day, 10am-3pm
    The Farm Kitchen Summer Hiatus:
    Monday, May 31st -
    Monday, September 6th

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Yam and black bean tacos

    This is going to sound either very simple or very strange depending on your experience with the ingredients. It was inspired both by one of my favorite snacks (sweet potato chips and black beans) AND by a recipe we read somewhere for vegetarian tacos.

    bake one sweet potato or yam and cube
    mix with 1 can black beans (Strained) and heat until black beans are heated through
    add feta cheese and 2 tablespoons lime juice
    serve in warm corn tortillas.


    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    PB&J Banana Bread

    I probably should have taken a picture of this... maybe next time. I would definitely make PB&J Banana Bread again. We used Bob's Red Mill biscuit and baking mix plus 2 bananas, about a cup of peanut butter chips, and 3/4 cup dried cranberries. We also thought about dried apricots, but Jenn opted for the dried cranberries. I love baking with friends, and this recipe happened to be gluten free. So just follow the recipe for banana bread on the back of the bag, and instead of raisins add dried cranberries, and instead of  nuts the peanut butter chips. We made sure to get gluten free peanut butter chips (which should be gluten-free anyway, but we checked to be sure) I suspect this would also be great with dark chocolate chips, but I can't eat chocolate as it triggers my migraines.

    If you choose to make this, let me know how it turns out! I think my vegan friends can easily alter this recipe but let me know if I'm wrong, and at first glance it seems to fit vegetarian restrictions, but as I'm not myself a vegetarian again, please clue me in if it's not. And more specifically, if you are a friend of mine and have food restrictions, please let me know if this is on your edible list as I might just make some for you some time!

    We loved it best warm. I've been enjoying this as a breakfast treat. It has grain, protein, fruit and sugar, what more could you want in a breakfast!? Whenever I eat a slice I heat it up with some buttery type product on it. DEEEEEELISH!

    Gluten-Free Not the Answer for Me?

    Good news? I tested negative for celiac. Bad news? Still no answers...although my allergist agreed with Dr Heather, I have immunity issues. She says this is why I get hives, my body is overreacting to minor allergens. She recommended my PCP give me a Pneumovax 23 to boost my immune system because apparently my pneumococal titers are way off. She also agreed that my Epstein Barr Virus had recently re-initiated itself which is why I felt exhausted and constantly droopy/fatigued recently. But I must say, the high dose of vitamins B12, D and now consistent vitamin A and B Complex that Dr Heather kicked it's butt! She has me on has me back to feeling energetic, so that has been a blessing this week as I had 2 to 3 doctor visits daily!

    Daily doc visits every day this week except today that is, today is my day of rest. Well, supposedly it is so. I have a list of things to do. Doctors to call, addresses to find, things to ask will be a busy day of rest but at least I'm not running around getting poked and prodded and made dizzy. Not today anyway.

    So I feel a bit dejected. Is that strange? I should be celebrating not being a Celiac right? But I thought I'd found the answers. When I was eating 100% gluten-free I did feel better. I was however able to eat some really yummy mac n cheese on regular noodles last night. And I must admit, I am looking forward to trying out this new pasta bar in Phoenix. But I am still feeling disappointed. I think this is because I thought I had found the answer.

    Now for my friends who are gluten-free and read this blog, never fear there will still be the occasional (probably more than occasional) gluten-free recipe. This is because I have found that many things we make are accidentally gluten-free and pretty much anything vegan I make or easily can be. And I will still be preparing vegan and/or vegetarian foods and writing about them here. So whenever I eat or prepare something I enjoy and I find it worthy of sharing with others, I'll post it here. Especially if I find it makes me feel healthier. I will add a gluten-free label to make it simpler to find my posts which have gluten-free recipes or when I post about restaurants that serve gluten-free food. Speaking of restaurants, we went out to celebrate a recent victory with some friends the other night, and they had a gluten-free menu at Pei Wei.

    I am not going back to eating all gluten-filled foods all the time over night, heck probably never, but I did have pasta last night. It doesn't seem to have negatively affected me. I'm still feeling sick, but I still felt sick when I was off gluten. It just doesn't seem to be the fix for me. Unless the toothpaste I use has gluten. That's possible, I hadn't gotten around to checking that out. But again, I ate regular pasta last night and felt fine. A little gassy, my eyes and nose are itchy, but the gas was probably the cheese I put on it, and the itchy eyes and nose are most likely from sitting outside so much yesterday around all that ragweed. I think I will try going back to occasionally eating things that have gluten in them, and see how I feel. If I start feeling worse, I'll go back off the gluten and see if that fixes it. Because heck, if I feel better off the stuff, it's worth giving up. Or if I feel best on a low gluten diet, same thing.

    Maybe today I will eat some oatmeal. Not a ton of gluten in oatmeal. In fact some people would say there's none...depends on if the oats were dusted with wheat flour. But I miss my morning hot cereal. Never did bother putting gluten-free hot cereal in the pantry. Maybe now I won't bother. Shopping gluten-free was a bit more expensive. Mostly because I hadn't mastered low cost shopping while gluten-free. If I end up not going 100% off gluten, maybe I'll never master that...but I do think I will try making some delicious low cost meals and writing about them. I made a really yummy one on the day before yesterday and it was even better when I pumped it up with some lime juice for lunch yesterday. That entry coming soon.

    Enough rambling... catch you soon, and wish me luck in finding the culprit for my health problems, because I STILL have no concrete answers and that my friends, is the worst feeling ever. I'd have felt better being told I was a Celiac than being told there is still no clear answer. Although my allergist insists I will feel tons better once my immune system is sorted out and my allergies are treated, I have my doubts. All I can hope, is that she is right. And I can revel in some glutenous pasta and not feel any sicker than usual, while I wait for the new doctors I've been referred to. Plus I can continue seeing the miracle workers at Bodhi Body Integrative Medical Centers who have me feeling better than I have in 20 years. And THAT is something to celebrate!

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Cornbread Muffins with Local Toppings

    Patch made a Pamela's Products mix of gluten free cornbread muffins the other day. They turned out to be a great texture, but not as much flavor as I was expecting.  They're great with toppings.

    So far we've tried both Cactus Jelly by the Cactus Candy Company, and local honey from the Fruit and Bread Basket store down the street. I love prickly pear anything, so the jelly is a big hit and great on the cornbread muffins. You can find versions of cactus jelly at lots of stores in the area. Whole Foods, or the little store we like to stop at on the way home are my two favorite places to find it. I'll take pictures next time we stop by the Fruit and Bread Basket or whatever it's called and I'll do an entry highlighting the place. Next time I'm there I plan on trying Orange Prickly Pear  Marmalade. Sounds delicious. But toppings like these are a bit more expensive and I tend to use them slowly over time, so for now it's local honey and cactus jelly.

    The local honey comes in a variety of flavors. Mesquite, orange blossom, lemon blossom, etc. I like trying the various flavors so we have a few different kinds in the cupboard. I've found the lighter flavors go well with the cornbread muffins. The bonus of eating local honey is that it is said to help you develop resistance to local allergens. Handy! Maybe nature knows something we don't.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Polenta with Goat Cheese and Capicola

    1 cup polenta
    2 cups beef broth (fat and gluten free)
    1 1/4 cups water
    3 oz goat cheese
    1 oz grated Parmesiana Reggiano
    1 oz Capicola

    Preheat oven to 350.
    In baking dish, mix 1/4 cup water into polenta creating a slurry and stir well to help eliminate lumps. Then slowly mix in remaining liquid striving to avoid clumping of polenta. This helps ensure a smooth final product without requiring you to constantly stir.  Bake in oven for 50 minutes.
    Chop goat cheese and Capicola (delicious, very thinly sliced Italian meat)
    Remove Polenta from oven and stir in chopped ingredients
    Sprinkle on Paremesiana Reggiano in thin layer over the top
    Bake for 10 more  minutes

    Creates 12 small or 6 larger servings. You can eat immediately as a soft polenta or place in refrigerator and cool until firm. Firm product is also delicious when reheated, but I do recommend eating some straight out of the oven (careful there's hot cheese in there!) because there's a thin crispy layer of Parmesiana Reggiano over the top and it's a great combination of textures. But it's great reheated and the Capicola was like tiny crispy surprise bits of joy sprinkled throughout.   I ate it as a side with leftover Carlie-made Lasagna, and then in the morning I had 2 small servings for a quick and easy breakfast before heading off to the doctor. I couldn't wait for it to heat up and tasted a bite of it while still cold which was yummy, but when reheated it had this great texture ... something between cheesy cornbread and polenta.

    You've got to try this if you like Italian food. If you're used to Southern Italian meals like the food from Cicily, you may not be used to polenta. It's a corn meal and can be served in all sorts of ways most of which are vegetarian or vegan. This particular way is really tasty, but does have both meat and milk products in it so is obviously neither.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Carlie-made Gluten Free Lasagna

    Carlie made some amazing lasagna. She always does. We did have a little problem with the gluten-free pasta... it said there was no need to boil it. In fact the instructions said not to boil it, simply to put it into the lasagna layers. We were worried it would still be mushy however when the lasagna was ready, the pasta was still hard. DOH!

    It was better today after reheated, and I suspect it will be perfect tomorrow. Which is something to remember. Next time we're planning to SLIGHTLY soften the pasta before putting it into the layers.

    Otherwise, delicious! So much so that Patch says it is delicious both ways and she doesn't notice the pasta being "too hard" It's not uncooked, it's simply a bit overly hard to the more critical pallets in the house. I found it much better today, and Carlie (self critical perhaps?) felt it was still a bit too hard. Like I said tho, I suspect tomorrow it will be the perfect consistancy. If we'd boiled it, it wouldn't last. Something to remember for the future. Maybe make 1/2 as much or make it when we have twice as many people to eat it? Still a work in process. I'll share the recipe and details once we get the details down pat and IF Carlie allows her recipe to be put out there. Family secrets to protect you know!

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Cranberry Citrus Muffins

    It seems to be that I notice I have most of the ingredients for some recipe or other, and by the time I get the rest, something has been eaten. Or in this case, drunk as the orange juice seems to have disappeared between our recent shopping trip and baking these. The muffins I made turned out to be good, but a little lacking in flavor and sweetness. Good texture tho. Light and fluffy!  I altered the recipe off the back of the Bob's Red Mill biscuit and baking mix a bit, but it's really good with topping. I was not expecting these to rise as much as they did since I have heard horror stories about baking gluten-free, nor to be as fluffy as they are. I was pleasantly surprised.

    2 cups Bobs biscuit and baking mix
    2 tblspn Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
    1 heaping cup of sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 egg
    1 lemon
    1/2 cup cranberry apple juice
    1/2 cup lemon-lime soda
    1 heaping cup dried cranberries

    Whisk oil, egg, sugar and vanilla. Continue whisking while slowly adding juice of 1 lemon, cran-apple juice, and lemon lime soda. Slowly stir in biscuit and baking mix until fully mixed, then add extra lemon-lime soda as needed until the consistency matches a slightly thick muffin mix.

    Next time I'm going to replace 1/2 the sugar with something less fattening like apple sauce, and I'll use orange juice instead of the cran-apple, but I figured I was already replacing something in this recipe, why mess with it more. By the way, if you're watching your weight, you may want to use diet soda. I can't use most diet sodas for this trick as they usually have sugar replacements which trigger or worsen my migraines, but I'm keeping my eyes open. Suggestions?

    Carlie helped me bake these, because running around the kitchen to get ingredients and then mixing them up is still a bit beyond my abilities, especially after a week of lab tests which have left me feeling drained. No pun intended. I'm glad Carlie likes baking with me on her days off, because I was feeling the need for bread in my life this morning and ended up deciding to turn a cranberry orange bread recipe into the slightly altered muffin recipe above. I figured I can portion out muffins better than I can a loaf of bread. Plus I was curious to see how the trick of adding soda to the recipe would lighten things up. Considering how yummy these are warm, with some margarine and orange marmalade, I think I may need to freeze some up to make sure we don't eat too many at once. We'll see how they hold up to the freezer.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Shopping success and failures

    After my last lab tests for the week, which FINALLY included the celiac panel I have given 18 vials of blood, had 130 allergens scratched onto my back, 24 allergens injected under my skin on my right arm, been poked, prodded and generally observed, but I believe I am closer to knowing what is wrong with my health and how to improve it than ever before in my life.

    To celebrate, we went to AJ's deli at 56th Street and Ray Road in Chandler, AZ. I wanted to go to their sushi bar, but wasn't sure which fish count as shellfish and which would or wouldn't cause an allergic reaction so even tho I had an EPI pen on hand, I thought I would go the safer route.  Chef Roger helped point out which of his meals I would not be allergic to. What a great guy taking the extra time! AJ's should be grateful to have such dedicated employees who give excellent customer service. As someone who is finding he is allergic to and intollerant of several different foods, it can be overwhelming to eat anywhere outside one's own kitchen but at AJ's I felt perfectly safe. We ended up deciding on Terriaki Salmon with a Verry Berry Salad. YUM!

    After my visit to the deli, I stopped by the candy section to buy a small desert. A roller girl named Chachi was there. Yes, roller girls have day jobs. And she was kind enough to point out a desert which I could eat without becoming sick, and which turned out to be a unique and wonderful flavor which I had never tried before, Orange Chili Chocolate. Patch and I shared it and we both very much enjoyed the tasty little pyramid of creamy citrus with spicy hot overtones. I do not usually like hot things, but I risked it knowing that Chachi would not stear me wrong. Once again, customer service to die for. That's why AJ's is a great place to celebrate. And knowing I can get gluten-free treats there, is a bonus!

    Obviously all of the above was shopping success. What followed next during our shopping trip at Bashas was not. Don't get me wrong, Bashas' staff was wonderful, and the meal that we had tonight based off our shopping trip was good. But I made a newbie mistake in the gluten intolerant world. The shelf said gluten free, and I saw 3 for 3 dollars, so  I grabbed three boxes of organic pasta. Unfortunately the gluten free pasta was NOT the organic was below it. YIKES! When Patch unpacked the groceries and lay out the ingredients for a gluten free spaghetti, she realized my mistake. I am grateful she read the labels, because I was looking forward to going 100% gluten-free for the first time today. I am looking forward to feeling better and better as I believe I will when I'm living gluten-free. Thankfully, we happened to have a box of brown-rice spaghetti left over from our previous gluten-free shopping trip at Fresh and Easy. YAY!  The italian sausage left over from a previous list of ingredients was perfect in the spaghetti sauce...and the only difference I would want next time would be to try cooking the spaghetti for a shorter amount of time. I'm big on al dente pasta and this was more the consistency of chow mein. NOT what my pallet was expecting with an Italian meal, although I could see this being good with a Chinese meal. Lesson learned... next time I am shopping for pasta I will pay closer attention. Still, I'm grateful we had been keeping our eye open on previous trips and knew we would be wanting gluten-free spaghetti at some point. PHEW! The whole family enjoyed dinner tonight, so don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, it simply can be better. I know we'll hit the nail on the head next time!

    Happy eating all, please feel free to share your gluten-free favorites, tips and tricks for pasta, I'm a big pasta eater and am still hopeful.

    Local Myer Lemon Oil

    While looking for gluten free lasagna, I also kept my eyes open for lemon olive oil. It was a lucky happenstance that it just so happens some is made right down the road in Queen Creek, AZ. Queen Creek Olive Mill makes Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, which they sell at stores right here in "the valley."

    I always try to keep my eye open for products we can buy which are locally grown because it supports farmers in my community as well as making less of a negative impact on the world around us.  I'm not a fanatic about searching locally grown foods out, but when I just happen across them in the type of product I'm already looking for it's a bonus!

    We also picked up a lemon and I was looking forward to using the cookie mix I'd picked up but replacing the oil with my lemon oil find, adding some lemon zest, and replacing the water in the recipe with lemon juice. All inspired by a recipe in Gluten Free Girl, which I've been reading while waiting for various doctors visits and lab tests.

    Luckily for me some friends came over, one of whom LOVES baking cookies. These turned out really yummy! Not the same as those in the book I'm sure...but delicious enough that people keep going back for more. The other great thing about them is they're really satisfying. After eating one you're like wow that was good, but you're also feeling a bit full and satisfied so there's no rushing back for immediate 2nd and 3rds...but there is a lot of gradual cookie grazing going on in this house these days.

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    My Favorite Snack is Gluten-Free!

    Surprise, surprise, my all time favorite snack is accidentally gluten-free. Initially I thought this snack would be a no no, but it turns out there are gluten-free lime chips. Corazonas no less! It's nice to know I won't have to go without my favorite snack food.

    And for lunch? I love me some lime chips with black beans and cheese. I heat up some canned organic black beans, squish some of them with a fork, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of Monterey Jack, keep heating until they reach that slightly soupy slightly refried bean consistancy, and boom you got my favorite snack which apparently turns out to be gluten free.

    Not all Corazonas are guaranteed gluten free so don't go eating them randomly without checking, especially the one with oats in it if you're a celiac. But the corn tortilla chips with lime are gluten free. Since it's my favorite snack, I did check and had thought they were not gluten free because I was looking up the kind with oats in them. But they apparently had enough people writing in with this question that they added a specific marker on certain bags of their chips. YAY! Now I can have my favorite snack and/or lunch food without worrying about it. I just love when things work out that way.

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Do you really cook all that food?

    No! Sometimes Carlie does, sometimes Patch, other times I do (tho usually with one of their help to stir something or chop some ingredients) and sometimes I find a yummy treat somewhere like today at Whole Foods Market in Chandler, AZ.

    Today I had gluten-free black bean soup and a mix of vegetables seasoned with sage. I'm going to try making a warm version of the vegetable mix myself. Maybe some day I'll make some black bean soup as well... I'm very curious to try making bean soup, and I really love black beans. If I put rice in it, it would have that perfect protein mix going for it as well. Although rice in soup has always struck me as odd.

    The mixed vegetables had sage, salt, pepper, and olive oil on butternut squash, zucchini and a couple other kinds of squash. It may also have had some citrus.  I think it would be great with some cheese gnochi or some kind of ravioli. It was tasty cold, but I really wished I had some way to heat it up since the day was so cloudy and the soup was so nice and warm. Somehow eating cold vegetables and hot soup was an odd combo. It was a good thing to eat before heading next door to Bodhi Body tho. I felt better able to sit and get my first I.V. treatment than if I'd gone in there hungry.  Tomorrow I go in for my food allergy tests. Let's hope they agree to do my celiac tests so I can finally stop eating gluten 100% and see if it helps. I'm already feeling better bit by bit these days... not sure which parts of the treatments are working, but the supplements and I.V. definitely have had the most obvious immediate results.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Home Cooked Italian YUM

    I LOVE Italian food and Carlie makes some mouth watering pasta dishes. She has lived with Patch and I for the last 8 years and our stomachs are forever grateful. She comes from a family that is half Irish, and half Italian but she is one of those that looks 100% Italian, and from the way she cooks, you would believe it. After I read some of the recipes and comments in the "Gluten-free Italian" cookbook to her, she mentioned that if we could get the hang of cooking with gluten-free pastas we could make just about any of the meals she usually makes because there is no gluten in tomato, cauliflower, nor meat. 

    True, although I have noticed the occasional use of wheat-flour in some strangely unexpected places, so we'll keep our eyes open for ways it might try to sneak into our diet. It will depend on how intolerant of gluten I am, but I have read that as little as a tablespoon a day can cause flare ups in some people and we may therefor have to be super vigilant about the ways gluten sneaks into our foods. I believe our new grocery store mantra will be, "When in doubt, leave it out!"

    Other than being vigilant by reading the ingredients on pre made and packaged foods, she's right! Preparing Italian food should be pretty much the same as before. 

    I found premade gluten-free lasagna noodles at Whole Foods and picked a box up. We are likely to end up making our own pasta some time soon, because frankly, home made is almost always better than pre-packaged, but it's a lot more work to make your own, and we don't have a pasta machine so we will be using prepackaged most of the time. Thankfully the Gluten-free Italian cookbook I bought on amazon does have a pasta recipe that looks like it will make great ravioli. Mmmmmm I can't wait to make interesting fillings for ravioli.

    Tonight we made brown rice risotto with chicken. We LOVED IT! And want to make it again. Makes enough for 6-8 people depending on if you serve it as an entire meal as we did, or a hearty side dish.

    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 small yellow onion
    1 small red onion
    1 tsp garlic powder (0r 2 cloves of chopped garlic if you ahve them)
    10 - 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast cubed (1 inch cubes)
    1/2 teaspoon oregano
    1 teaspoon rosemary
    4 tablespoons diced bacon (or prosciutto if you have it)
    2 cups brown rice
    2/3 cup cooking sherry
    3 cups gluten-free chicken broth, heated (I use swansons 100% natural)
    3 cups hot water
    6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    4 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano
    fine sea salt
    black pepper 

    in large skillet, on medium heat cook chicken with 1/2 herbs till no longer pink in 1 tablespoon olive oil
    in large saucepan, on medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Cook chopped onions and garlic until soft, but before browned. (about 5 minutes) add the rest of the herbs and the bacon or procsciutto. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

    Add the rice and stir until well coated with oil. All the grains will appear shiny. Stir in the cooking sherry and bring to a boil. Stir and bring down to a strong simmer cooking until all the sherry is either soaked into the rice or evaporated, then stir in 2 cups of the hot broth. Simmer and stir often until the liquid is almost absorbed. Repeat with remaining broth a cup at a time. Repeat with 1/2 the hot water, and cook until rice is tender to the bite (about 35 minutes) adding the rest of the hot water as necessary until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy with a slightly soupy consistancy. It should not be dry or sticky.

    Turn off the stove, stir in the parsley and 2 tablespoons butter. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. I added more pepper and garlic powder, but not more salt to mine. Seperate into bowls and sprinkle a tablespoon of the parmigiano-reggiano on top of each. Buy a good cheese, it makes all the difference in the world.

    We put the leftovers in a sealed container into the fridge so we wouldn't eat it all up in one sitting. It was tempting, but portion control is part of losing weight while still being able to enjoy delicious food. When split into 6 servings, this ended up being 9 points on weight watchers.