Posts made in November, 2013

grain free and dairy free sandwich bread

Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in breads | 0 comments

SONY DSC

 

Dressing or stuffing is the one dish on Thanksgiving that is always a bit of a disappointment since I cut out gluten and adopted more of a Paleo way of eating.  I’ve tried pre-made dried bread cubes, but nothing has come close to tasting the way I remember traditional dressing tastes.  So the past couple of years, I decided to make my own stuffing bread cubes.

I use a basic grain free and dairy free sandwich bread made with 2/3 almond flour and 1/3 unmodified potato starch.  I have also used sweet potato flour instead of the unmodified potato starch but after reading this article on Mark’s Daily Apple, I switched to unmodified potato starch for the added benefit of this type of resistant starch to my intestinal flora.  The gut environment thrives on resistant starch that passes through the small intestine undigested and arrives in the colon ready for fermentation by the gut flora (beneficial bacteria).

A flourishing gut environment is crucial for good health.  Those who regularly take supplements or eat foods with high quality probiotics (good bacteria) along with prebiotics (food that those good bacteria need to grow and thrive) and resistant starch experience fewer allergies, less sickness, and lower overall inflammation in their bodies than those who do not.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

Making my own bread always seemed intimidating to me until I tried it.  I have a Cuisinart breadmaker, which basically takes ALL of the work out of making homemade bread.  My recipe is super simple with only 9 ingredients:  four wet, and five dry.

 

SONY DSC

 

I start by letting the wet ingredients come to room temperature.  The finicky yeast granules do not like cold, so to do their thing, which causes the bread to rise, the eggs, milk, melted coconut oil, and honey need to be room temperature.  Once the ingredients have warmed slightly, I whisk them together and pour them into the loaf pan inside the breadmaker.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

Now for the five dry ingredients.  I stirred together the almond flour, unmodified potato starch, xanthan gum, sea salt, and yeast granules.  Then I spread the dry ingredients evenly on top of the wet ingredients in the loaf pan.  Time to operate the machinery.  Again, super simple.  I start by selecting the gluten free option on the menu, and then I select 2 pound loaf and medium crust.  Then I press start.  And that’s it…the last of my involvement in the break making process other than removing the finished loaf of bread.  The loaf of bread takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes from start to finish in the breadmaker.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

To make the loaf of bread into cubes for stuffing, I cut the bread into cubes and leave it out uncovered on the counter for about a day to dry out.  If you’re pressed for time, you can also place the cubes on a baking sheet and dry them in the oven on the lowest setting for about 45 minutes.

 

grain free and dairy free sandwich bread
Author: 
Recipe type: bread
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1¼ cups canned coconut milk, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup unmodified potato flour
  • 1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 packet yeast granules
Instructions
  1. Bring all wet ingredients to room temperature: coconut oil, coconut milk, honey, and eggs.
  2. Whisk together wet ingredients and pour into loaf pan in the breadmaker.
  3. Stir together dry ingredients: almond flour, potato flour, xanthan gum, sea salt, and yeast granules.
  4. Spread dry ingredients over wet ingredients in the loaf pan in the breadmaker.
  5. Set the breadmaker to gluten free setting, the loaf size to 2 pounds, and the crust to medium. Press start.
  6. Remove from breadmaker promptly when finished.

 

Read More

bacon and butternut squash “risotto”

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 in featured, side dish, vegetables | 2 comments

SONY DSC

 

The holidays are upon us.  Thanksgiving is next week!  Even though I love this magical time of year, I can’t help but feel my anxiety level rise as my to-do list grows.  And when my anxiety increases, my sleep decreases.  For whatever reason, my body likes to deal with anxiety at night in the form of insomnia.

Until several years ago, I have not been a good sleeper.   I have been tortured with insomnia on and off my whole life.  And torture is a pretty accurate word to use when it’s 2am in the middle of your umpteenth sleepless night, and your mind is still on that hamster wheel.  I used to describe the feeling in my brain as having a light switch on that I just couldn’t flip off.  Insomnia is MISERABLE!

About ten years ago, when I was also going through the worst of my years of sickness, I was driven into such a craze from yet another night of no sleep, that I decided I needed a little help in the form of a pill to get some relief.  My doctor did not immediately jump to Ambien (which is what I was hoping he’d prescribe me for a quick fix) but instead looked for the source of my night time wired mind.  He explained that when a person is experiencing anxiety, it is common to motor through your day pretty unaffected and coping just fine, but the second your head hits the pillow, that switch in your mind flips on and your body deals with the anxiety at night.  I left his office without a prescription for Ambien and instead began a three year relationship with Lexapro, a serotonin re-uptake drug.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in your brain that promotes a good mood and relaxation.

At first, I was so happy to be sleeping like a baby, that I was perfectly content taking my one little “sanity” pill each day.  But after I had several months of better than average sleep under my belt, I was thinking a whole lot more clearly and became much less enthused about my magic fix.  I loved how Lexapro took away any anxiety and insomnia I had been experiencing, but that’s not all it took away.  I had no feelings.  I had to force myself to do what I had previously been motivated to do during my days.  I would be perfectly content sitting on the couch watching life happen around me with no care in the world.  I didn’t like the feeling of not caring and not having an emotional attachment to pretty much anything.  And then there’s the weight gain.  I felt puffy and carried around an extra five pounds the three years the drug was in my system.

I made the decision to stop taking Lexapro after less than a year of starting it.  Then began my two year yo-yo experience, as I tried to wean from myself from it.  I began to research natural ways to boost my serotonin level because I believed that the cause of my chronic anxiety and insomnia was a chemical problem within my brain.  I found that the body makes serotonin using the amino acid tryptophan.  Eating a well balanced diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, eggs, fish, and meat is the best way to ensure I’m getting enough tryptophan.  But some people can still come up short and need a little boost.  I decided to supplement with additional tryptophan.  Except I didn’t start with tryptophan, I started with something called 5-HTP, which is what the body converts tryptophan into before making serotonin.  I started off very slowly and worked up to several capsules per day until I started to feel relief.  I was able to ditch Lexapro for good with the help of 5-HTP.

But to be honest, I wasn’t completely satisfied with my sleep.  I still lay in bed awake for at least an hour trying to shut off my overactive mind.  I went back to researching and even met with a holistic specialist who suggested I try L-tryptophan instead of 5-HTP because it works better for some people.  And guess what, I was one of those people.  For the last several years, I have experienced amazing sleep.  I feel like a new person!!

A few other supplements that have also helped improve my sleep are GABA, melatonin, and liquid calcium and magnesium.  GABA is also a neurotransmitter in your brain that calms you down for sleep at night.  I’ve found that GABA wipes out my anxiety, so my mind can turn off.  Melatonin is a hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep through the night.  Magnesium is also needed for your body to relax, and because magnesium and calcium need to be taken together for both to absorb properly, I take a liquid calcium and magnesium supplement by Bluebonnet each night.  I have found all three of these supplements have further helped improve my sleep quality, especially during stressful or hormonal times when I’m prone to anxiety.

The holidays are a busy and crazy time of year.  If you aren’t sleeping well or are suffering from anxiety or insomnia, don’t let that sabotage the merriment and celebration of the season.  I encourage you to ask your doctor or other professional about these natural supplements that have helped me sleep.

My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the side dishes.  I plan to make this bacon and butternut squash “risotto” for my family this year.

 

SONY DSC

 

I am open to any shortcuts I can find to save myself a little time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.  To make this side dish, I bought my butternut squash pre-chopped.  I have found organic pre-chopped butternut squash at both Costco and Whole Foods.  If you prefer to chop your own, here is a great tutorial on how to do it.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

Next, I “riced” the cauliflower by putting the florets in my food processor and pulsing until they are pieces the size of rice.  A head of cauliflower yields quite a few florets, so I processed several batches before finishing the entire head.  Here is another method to “rice” cauliflower.  I also diced a couple stalks of celery and about a fourth of a purple onion and set them aside.

 

SONY DSC

 

I then chopped five pieces of uncured bacon and cooked them in a large pan over medium-high heat for about five minutes.

 

SONY DSC

 

Next, I added the diced celery and onion and a half teaspoon of both salt and pepper to the pan and cooked it for another five minutes.

 

SONY DSC

 

I added the butternut squash to the pan and cooked it for about seven minutes or until the cubes of squash became tender.

 

SONY DSC

 

I added the “riced” cauliflower to the pan and cooked it for another seven minutes.  And lastly, I stirred in chopped sage, pine nuts, and a little ghee for additional flavor.  Ghee is clarified butter that is a casein-free and lactose-free substitute for butter.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

 

4.0 from 1 reviews
bacon and butternut squash "risotto"
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish, vegetable
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 stalks celery
  • ¼ purple onion
  • 5 pieces of bacon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • handful of chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut up the butternut squash, or buy it pre-chopped. Set aside.
  2. "Rice" the cauliflower in a food processor and set aside.
  3. Dice the celery and onion and set aside.
  4. Cut up the bacon, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes in a large pan.
  5. Add the celery, onion, salt and pepper to the pan, and cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. Add the butternut squash to the pan, and cook for 7 more minutes or until the squash is tender.
  7. Add the "riced" cauliflower to the pan, and cook for 7 more minutes.
  8. Stir in the the sage, pine nuts, and ghee.
  9. Serve warm.

 

 

Read More

barbecue zucchini chips

Posted by on Nov 14, 2013 in snacks, vegetables | 4 comments

SONY DSC

 

Why do you snack?  The purpose of a snack is to provide a bridge between the larger meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  A healthy snack keeps your metabolism revving along and gives you that precious energy to focus and stay busy and active without losing steam throughout your day.  Ideally, healthy snacks are like mini well balanced meals (not just a carb load) complete with protein, fiber, and a little fat.  If you are in weight loss mode, focus on foods with fiber, as they are filling but usually low in calories, making a small snack go a long way in keeping you satisfied.

Realistically, do you think about the nutrition aspect of your snacks?  Most often I do not!  Snacks in my world typically have nothing to do with hunger and have everything to do with me having a craving.  Even though I know better than to reach for food when I have a craving, if I’m being honest, I’m still human and I do it.  We all do at one time or another.  The important thing is not to let cravings take over and allow food to become a stronghold in your life.

Sometimes you need to give in to your cravings, and sometimes your cravings can signal something else is going on in your life – you have another need (spiritual, physical, relational, or occupational) besides food that you should address.  So how do you tell the difference between a craving that you should satisfy and a craving that needs to be met in another way besides food?  I’ve learned a couple of questions to ask myself that have helped me distinguish the difference.

First, when you have a craving, ask yourself “What type of food am I craving right now?”  If the answer is salty or sweet, your body might be sending you a message that it needs something.  This is the type of craving that you want to satisfy with a healthy snack.

A craving for something salty can mean your body needs valuable trace minerals.  Table salt, which is used in most processed foods today, has been refined and stripped of minerals, so it’s almost pure sodium chloride.  But sea salt is a good unrefined choice to satisfy your craving, as it’s chalked full of trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, bromine, boron, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and silicon.  Choosing a snack seasoned with sea salt can satisfy this craving.

If you crave something sweet, your body is telling you that it needs energy.  Before satisfying a sweet craving, make sure to evaluate your food choice so you don’t end up with another craving soon thereafter.  Sugary, processed, wheat containing sweets offer little nutrients and break down really quickly in your digestive system, absorbing into your bloodstream at rapid speed. They spike your blood sugar and give you quick energy but then just as quickly as it shoots up, your blood sugar drops and you’re left with another sweet craving.  Instead, choose sweet snacks that contain natural sugar like fruit or natural sweeteners like a little honey or maple syrup.  And don’t forget the protein, fat, and fiber!  Choose sweet snacks that are well balanced, so they give you lasting energy, as they satisfy your need for different types of nutrients.  They are also broken down and absorbed at a slower pace, trickling into your bloodstream rather than flooding it, which keeps your sweet craving at bay longer.

The second question to ask yourself when you have a craving is “What do I really need right now?”  Many times the answer is not food.  Because you feel in your body and also put food into your body, without even realizing it, you can try to cope with your feelings by eating.  Common emotions that lead to cravings are anger, frustration, anxiousness, boredom, loneliness, and needing comfort.

When you crave crunchy foods, you tend to be feeling frustrated or angry.  There’s something about the noise and the act of chomping that eases those emotions.

When you crave something creamy, you may be needing comfort.  Creamy foods are soothing and relaxing.

By asking yourself “What do I really need right now?”, you can examine the deeper root of the craving and appropriately satisfy it. Many cravings are tied to other areas of your life besides food. When you take time to make sure all of you is properly nourished – spiritual, physical, relational, occupational – you will find your cravings lessen and you are on the road to healthy snacking.

These barbeque zucchini chips are one example of a healthy snack choice, providing an energy boost with a naturally sweet food plus some needed nutrients to help you make it through your day.  Pair them with a few nuts and seeds, a rolled up slice of turkey, a hard boiled egg, or a piece of smoked salmon to add a little protein.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

To start, I made a simple barbecue spice blend with chili powder, sea salt, coconut sugar (maple sugar works well too), paprika, garlic, cumin, mustard, and black pepper.

 

SONY DSC

 

Next, I cut three zucchinis into 1/8 inch slices.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

Next, I preheated the oven to 300 degrees and placed the slices on parchment lined baking sheets.  I sprayed a little olive oil over the slices with my olive oil mister and then sprinkled the barbecue spice blend on the zucchini slices and baked them for 40 minutes.  I removed them from the oven and flipped the slices.  Then I sprayed a little more olive oil on the other side and sprinkled on more of the spice blend.  I baked them for about 20 more minutes, watching closely to make sure not to over bake.  After 20 minutes, I removed several of the chips from the baking sheet that were good and crispy and returned the rest to the oven to bake for about 5 more minutes.

 

SONY DSC

 

 

SONY DSC

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
barbecue zucchini chips
Author: 
Recipe type: snack, vegetable
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1-2 tablespoon coconut sugar, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 zucchini
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. To make a barbecue spice blend, combine chili powder, coconut sugar, sea salt, garlic, paprika, cumin, mustard, black pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl.
  3. Thinly slice the zucchinis into ⅛ inch slices.
  4. Mist the olive oil over the zucchini slices, sprinkle the spice blend over the zucchini slices, and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, flip the slices, mist a little olive oil on the other side, and sprinkle the splice blend over the other side too.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes more, watching closely not to overbake.

 

Read More

carrot ginger soup

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 in appetizer, entree, soups, vegetables | 0 comments

SONY DSC

 

Boy, October came and went before I had time to blink twice.  I always think I am prepared for the frenzy that is fall, but looking back, I never am.  The culmination of crazy for my family is always the first weekend of November, as both of my children’s birthdays fall at this time…one day apart.

  • November 3rd, 3:42am – Kayley’s 14th birthday
  • November 4th, 4:30am – Ben’s 12th birthday

Two years and one day separates them.  Wow.  I’m always excited but never ready for them to turn another year older.  Kayley is frighteningly close to learning to drive – yikes! – and only one more year before we are officially the parents of two teenagers – yikes again!

We’ve tried every which way to celebrate their birthdays so that they each will feel special.  And man, when they were small, I would break my back trying to do it.  But in the last few years, we’ve settled into a nice tradition that both the birthday girl and birthday boy seem to be happy with.  We pick one night for our family to celebrate together (with separate celebrations with friends for each plus a few extra little surprises on their actual days).  Most years, our family consists of my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend.  The kids pick a location for dinner or a meal for me to make, I bake 2 cakes of their choosing, we sing to them both, and they open their presents together.  But this year is the first year we’ve celebrated with just the four of us – grandparents are enjoying two weeks in Italy, and my brother is getting MARRIED in Bora Bora!  Congratulations Cam and Brandi!  We love you!!

It’s a busy time for our family, and now that the weekend is over, I’m beat.  Whenever I start feeling this way, it is time for me to cleanse.  I try to detox once every season, and I find that after the whirlwind that is September and October, I have a couple of short down weeks at the beginning of November, after the kids’ birthdays and before Thanksgiving and Christmas festivities begin, when I can hunker down and focus on me.  Here are a few of the indications that I need to detox…

  • I don’t feel like myself
  • I feel tired
  • My temper is short for no reason
  • I feel overwhelmed
  • I’m not sleeping well
  • I feel “puffy”
  • A little too much sugar (even natural sugar) has seeped into my diet
  • My self-control with food is slipping
  • We are eating out at restaurants too much
  • I just need a good re-boot or re-start to get me back on track
  • I need a week to get my life back in order

Cleansing is so much more than just cleaning out my insides.  It is a mental and spiritual detox too.  After a week of cleansing, I feel like a new person.  Not only does my energy bounce back, but I feel really good “in my skin”.  I sleep better, and I have a better, more positive outlook on life.  When I cleanse, I take time out from EVERYTHING because it is so much more than food; it’s like hitting the reset button on my life.  I will fill you in next week on how my week of detoxing goes…

This carrot ginger soup is an example of a meal I will be eating this week.  The inspiration came from the Vitamix carrot ginger tofu recipe.  I don’t eat tofu, so I made some simple adjustments to the recipe to come up with a comforting winner.  And it’s beyond easy to make.  I don’t do hard while cleansing.  Everything I will be preparing this week will be a breeze.

 

SONY DSC

 

To start, I soaked a third of a cup of raw cashews in a 5.4 ounce can of Native Forest Coconut Cream in my large Vitamix container.  The healthy fat in cashews and coconut helps you absorb the fat soluble carotenoids in the carrots.  Plus, fat makes everything taste better, bringing out the natural flavors in the veggies.  Most of us grew up fearing the fat, but good fats are not only beneficial for your body, but they are also absolutely necessary for good health, especially brain health as the type of fat in coconuts has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory.  In addition, coconuts are packed with vitamins C, E, Bs, and magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, calcium, and selenium.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

While the cashews were soaking in coconut cream, I steamed a one-pound bag of organic baby carrots, a small purple onion (peeled and cut up), and about 8 cloves of garlic (peeled) for about 30 minutes in my George Foreman electric steamer.  I love this appliance.  I can prepare freshly steamed veggies in minutes.  Carrots are naturally sweet vegetables.  I choose to steam them over roasting them for this recipe, so less of their natural sugar will caramelize and they won’t be as sweet.  The high fiber and nutrient content of carrots makes them a good cleansing food, and the sulfur-rich onion and garlic provide a key component for liver detoxification plus lots of other valuable vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

I added 4 cups of chicken broth (either homemade or organic, free range from a box), sea salt, pepper, and about a 1 ½ to 2 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and chopped) to the Vitamix with the cashews and coconut cream.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

I added the steamed carrots, onion, and garlic to the Vitamix and firmly secured the lid.  I placed a towel over the top to avoid getting burned by any splatter and turned on the Vitamix on low first, and then moving to high.  I blended the ingredients into a soup for about one minute and then transferred it to a medium saucepan to thoroughly heat the soup over medium heat.  I plan to enjoy this carrot ginger soup with a simple green salad.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

 

carrot ginger soup
Author: 
Recipe type: soup, entree, vegetable
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound bag of organic baby carrots
  • 1 small purple onion, peeled and cut up
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ⅓ cup raw cashews
  • 1 5.4 ounce can Native Forest coconut cream
  • 4 cups homemade or organic chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1½ to 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Instructions
  1. Soak the cashews in the coconut cream in the large Vitamix container.
  2. Steam the carrots, onion, and garlic for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth, salt, pepper, and ginger to the Vitamix container.
  4. Add the steamed carrots, onion, and garlic to the Vitamix container.
  5. Firmly secure the lid on the Vitamix, and cover with a towel to avoid injury.
  6. Turn on the Vitamix on low, then moving to high, and puree the ingredients into a soup for about one minute.
  7. Transfer to a medium saucepan and heat thoroughly over medium heat.

 

Read More