Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sharing A Great Quote...Summarizes my Gluten Free YEAR

I went to lunch with a friend last week and saw a quote on the chalkboard of the restaurant: If it CAME from a plant eat it. If it was MADE in a plant don't.

This quote really summarizes my journey over the last year. April 5, 2012 I started my GLUTEN FREE DIET and have found myself having more energy and less reactions to foods.

At first I was unaware of what to do. I was unsure what I could eat. After a year, I can comfortably say that I have a handle on my new diet/lifestyle.

Gluten Free foods are foods that are closer to their natural form. The FEW packaged foods that I do eat have only a handful of ingredients, all of which are easily pronounced.

Over the past year NUMEROUS products have appeared on local supermarket shelves to accommodate people maintaining a GLUTEN FREE diet/lifestyle. Many products are, more likely than not, gluten free but manufactured in facilities where some cross-contamination may occur so they do not label their product "Gluten Free".

Numerous restaurants have Gluten Free options on their menu, or have a separate gluten free menu. Just ask! The kitchen may not be 100% gluten free but the dish can be prepared gluten free for you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday Meal Make-Overs - FRUIT BARS

Another Version of a GRANOLA BAR/SNACK BAR

We are all busy and need healthy snacks to fuel our days.

To Make the Fruit Bars you need:
Three medium pieces of fruit (a hard fruit is best as it will hold up in the oven best)
(RED apples work for Valentine's Day...Green for St. Patrick's Day...Peaches, Nectarines, and Apricots in the summer when the fruit is abundant)
2 teaspoons of sugar (or to is to coat the fruit - can be omitted as I do quite often)
1 to 1.5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 sticks of unsalted (preferable) butter - cold, cut into small wedges
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (your preference to match the fruit you use)
(often I am more generous here and reduce the sugar in steps above)

To Start: Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a baking pan

Step 1: Cut fruit into THIN slices and, if you wish, coat with sugar in a small bowl
Step 2: Mix dry ingredients THEN add egg and flavoring
Step 3: Use a fork to add the wedges of butter to the mixture...break them up as much as possible
Step 4: Add 1/2 of the mixture to the pan - press firmly to create a bottom layer
Step 5: Arrange the fruit slices on the bottom layer
Step 6: Add the remaining mixture to the firmly to create a top layer

Bake for about 30 minutes...or until edges start to turn golden brown.
Cut into pieces of desired size after it cools.

This FRUIT CRISP turned into FRUIT BAR can be made healthy or decadent.
Decadent add ins include:
coconut,chocolate or butterscotch chips,adding jam/jelly to fruit layer, or yogurt raisins
Healthy add ins include:
small size bits of dried fruit in bottom layer, adding sesame seeds, or adding ground flax seeds,

***If you add moist ingredients, increase the amount of oats.

30 minutes or so to bake
10 minutes to assemble/clean up
purchasing ingredients/figuring out what "version" to make

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - CAFFEINE

February is HEART HEALTH MONTH. We exercise which works our heart muscle. Do we think about what we INGEST and how it effects our heart?

I made a new year's resolution to reduce my daily intake of caffeine. I drink a cup of regular coffee or tea when I awaken and then, at home, drink water or decaffeinated coffee or tea. At work, where caffeine is the only option, I limit myself to a cup when I arrive. I have to admit, on a chilly day I have had a cup to warm myself up! each day I am trying to be smarter about cooking and packing my lunch...on cold days I am trying to pack homemade soup to keep me warm, rather than a cup of coffee!

Caffeine is in many foods and beverages. Not only does chocolate contain caffeine but so too does herbs like guarana, kola nuts, and yerba mate. Many medications also contain caffeine.

The website ENERGYFIEND lists the caffeine content in many beverages.

According to the American Heart Association, studies are being done to determine if there is a link between caffeine consumption and heart disease. Why wait for the results? Attempt to reduce your caffeine consumption ... perhaps some day you will eliminate caffeine, "the world's most popular drug" from your diet entirely!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Monday Meal Make-Over Chocolate Chip Cookies TRANSFORMED INTO GLUTEN FREE

Monday Meal Make-Over the TUESDAY edition...Sorry I was unable to post yesterday. Life got in the way. Rather than miss a week...submitting a tardy recipe.

I have been experimenting with making over dishes to make them GLUTEN FREE and/or VEGETARIAN to meet the needs of my family. My latest experiment worked out well...although it did take a few experimental recipes to get it "right".

I remade the Hershey's Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on the BACK of the Milk Chocolate Chips package.

RATHER than FLOUR ... I added 1/2 Almond Flour and 1/2 Oat Flour (Bob's Red Mill)
I used ROOM TEMPERATURE Butter and Eggs
I used Almond Flavoring rather than Vanilla
I used 1/4 cup sugar (BOTH white and brown)
I used extra chocolate chips (for moisture)

MY Remake:
2 1/4 c mix of "flours"
1 ts Baking soda
1/2 ts Salt
1 c Butter - softened to ROOM Temperature
1/4 c Granulated sugar
1/4 c Packed light brown sugar
1 ts Almond extract
2 Eggs - ROOM Temperature
12 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (or cut up candy bars)

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes

The CLASSIC COOKIE RECIPE can be found here

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Meal Make-Over... Chicken Soup

With all of the germs traveling through the community, I thought it would be good to fix a comfort food that has been given the label as the traditional soup to help one recover from a cold.

I made chicken soup today with some of the ingredients left in the refrigerator. I sauteed a frozen chicken breast in a bit of olive oil. Then I added 4 cups of low salt chicken broth and allowed the meat to come to a running boil. I turned the burner down to low and cooked for an hour.

I added two potatoes,4 medium carrots, and a stalk of celery. (No egg noodles made this gluten free). I brought this back to a boil then reduced it to low until the carrots and potatoes were tender. The last 5-10 minutes of cooking I added carrot greens to the pot.

If noodles were being added, you could cook egg noodles in a separate pot (using chicken broth as the liquid). When done, the noodles could be added to the rest of the soup.

Livestrong has many tips for how to modify Chicken Soup Recipes for the desired health benefits you are seeking.

The health benefits of chicken soup can be found by following this link
. Details about the anti-inflammatory properties are expanded in the article. Another source for additional information on health benefits is linked here.

Making the soup caused me to wonder what the VEGETARIAN VERSION of Chicken Soup was. I found a recipe on for Vegan Veggie Dumpling Soup that I will try (and modify to make gluten free). After I finish my Chicken Soup, I will try this recipe and make modifications to make it Gluten Free.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Meal Make-Over White Bean Soup

This week I tried another bean soup make over. I had some dry white beans that I re-hydrated but canned beans can be used instead!

I took two cups of (rinsed/cleaned) dry white beans and soaked them overnight in 2 cups of water and 2 cups of vegetable broth. The next morning I cooked them slowly for a few hours until they were soft, to taste. I like the batch to have some that melt in my mouth a a few that have a little texture.

In the soup pot I placed the following: a few tablespoons of olive oil, 6 large carrots (cut to your size preference), 4 cloves of garlic (minced), an onion (chopped finely), and a stalk of celery (chopped to your size preference). I sauteed them until translucent.

Then I added the re-hydrated beans, 6 cups of vegetable broth (chicken or beef could be used), 2 teaspoons of thyme and 1-3 bay leaves (to taste...I used 1). A potential add-in at this point is cooked sausage - chicken or pork - cut into small pieces.

Simmer until the beans are soft - which will take 1-2 hours.

Serving Suggestions - choices an be GLUTEN Free and/or VEGETARIAN:
a wedge of bread
a coup of soup and a half-sandwich
cheese, cracker, and fruit
hummus and pita

NEXT TIME ... I'll share pictures!

Monday Meal Make-Over ... Black Bean Soup

One of my New Year;s resolutions is to try a new recipe each week. The recipe I choose I need to make sure is GLUTEN FREE so that I can eat it, but I also look to find ways to modify it to be vegetarian to allow the recipe to be accessible to the vegetarian segment of the population.

Last week I made Black Bean Soup. Sorry I did not post it sooner!

I re-hydrated three cups of dry black beans in three cups of water and three cups of vegetable broth. After the beans soaked over night and cooked slowly in simmer for a few hours, I was ready to start. This step can be avoided by purchasing canned black beans.

To make the soup I sauteed a shallot and 4 cloves (of medium size) of garlic with some olive oil in the soup kettle. (An onion can be substituted for the shallot and the garlic can be modified to taste.) I added a chopped red bell pepper after a minute or two. (A stalk of celery and a carrot can be finely chopped to add flavor as well.) I stirred in 2 teaspoons of ground cumin and let the mixture go till the vegetables softened.

I added 6 cups of beans to the kettle after the aromatics began to sweat. To that I added 6 cups of liquid - 3 of water and 3 of vegetable broth. To this mixture I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.

I brought the mixture to a boil, stirring from time-to-time, then reduced the heat to low and covered the kettle. After 20-30 minutes the soup will start to thicken, add more liquid based on your preference.

For a thicker soup, remove 3 cups of soup, blend, and return to the kettle. For a soup that is thinner,serve as is.

Serving suggestions:
cheese and crackers, grilled cheese on the side, or your favorite sandwich
soup can be topped with diced tomatoes or slivered onions (raw or cooked/caramelized)

This soup is vegetarian with the inclusion of vegetable broth. Chicken or beef broth can be used instead - cook to your taste preference and/or health needs.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Soup ... Gluten Free or Vegetarian

I try to purchase food as close to the source as possible. Not only is it healthy but it also reduces my carbon footprint. Yesterday I went to the Farmer's Market and was SHOCKED at how picked over the vendors were! I was pleased to see that they had a great deal of business, and a bit disappointed that I could not get all the produce I normally can. Perhaps many people made a new year's resolution to shop locally and/or purchase organic products?

I have been promoting a Healthy Body Healthy Lifestyle for several years. After a week of 2013 has gone by, I look to share with you again my tips. I'll include GLUTEN FREE and VEGETARIAN options to traditional meals for those of you that need to prepare foods for a variety of "eaters" in your household (or those coming to dinner) as well as exercises and tips to strengthen your mind, body, spirit connection.

For today, a recipe...

For a COLD January day I was looking to pick up ingredients for soup. Including one stop at the traditional grocery store, I had all I needed to make a warm meal!

I cut up half an onion and a stalk of celery. I let them sweat in a pot until they began to brown. Then I added beef stew meat - turning often to get a slight coating on the outside of the meat to seal in moisture. Once the base was set, I added three beef bouillon cube, eight cups of water (I prefer my soup to be low sodium - one cup of water per cub is traditional), and a bay leaf. I brought it to a boil then let it simmer for a few hours. After a few hours I cut the meat into smaller chunks and added organic potatoes and carrots from the farmer's market (diced to desired size). I added a few of the carrot greens as well. I let it cook until the vegetables were tender.

This recipe is GLUTEN FREE but can be made VEGETARIAN as well by preparing BEANS instead of meat. Dry beans can be soaked overnight and rinsed. In the add meat portion of the recipe the re-hydrated beans can be added. More liquid may be needed if the beans soak up too much in the cooking process. Vegetable broth/stock can be used in place of the beef.

Either soup form can be made thicker by adding less liquid OR a greater portion of meat/beans, potatoes, and/or's up to you!

This can be served with GLUTEN FREE crackers/bread or traditional crackers/bread.