Archive for July, 2009

Tuna and Macaroni Salad

    This salad received many complements at the volunteer potluck luncheon meeting Friday. They were surprised to find out that it was gluten free. YES! This is the quality of food that is my heartfelt goal.
    The basic recipe makes enough for 3-4 people as a side salad or two main dish servings. Double or triple the recipe for a main dish salad for four or more. The vegetables make it nutrient dense and calorie light. Substitute fresh veggies in season or what you have on hand in the fridge. You may even use canned or frozen-cooked for the veggie component but for me the green onion is the flavor essential of this salad.

Ingredients for Basic Recipe:
3/4 cup dry whole grain rice pasta (Tinkyada)
1 can olive oil packed tuna
1/2 cup light GF mayonnaise (Hellman’s light)
    (note: I am still working on creating homemade egg & soy free mayo)
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
3/4 cup finely chopped celery & tops
4 cups finely chopped romaine
1 carrot, finely grated (I use a Microplane *)

    Boil the water plus salt for the amount of pasta that you plan to use in a pan that has a lid. Add the pasta and boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot, and set the timer for 20-25 minutes. This is an ‘energy sparse green’ technique advised on the package and it works very well. When it is done you will turn it into a colander and rinse well with cold tap water to stop the cooking process.
    Dump the tuna and oil into a large mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise and mix these together very well. Season the mixture to taste with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. This mixture will season the vegetables and pasta so make it quite intense.
    Add the vegetables and toss to coat them well. Add the cooled and well-drained pasta and toss gently to distribute all of the ingredients evenly. Refrigerate until serving.


* Microplane USA has a line of food graters that are interesting in design. The cutting edges work forward or backward but yet are so low that you cannot seriously injure yourself by accident – a bonus for someone like me with poor eye/hand coordination!

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A Short History of Medicine

In searching for nutrition education, certification and credentialing options, I found this. It is so true how we have come full circle…as I study more about eating a whole foods diet and using whole food/herbal supplements. Of course, it left out bloodletting and other grisly practices! The only caveat is that we need to ensure that we are getting essential nutrients from “the root” since our American soil is depleted and food plants grown in the ground aren’t what they used to be even 100 years ago. Enjoy the humor…Rita

Short History of Medicine



2000 B.C.

Eat this root

1000 B.C.

Roots are heathen. Say A Prayer.

1850 A.D.

Prayer is superstition. Take this potion.

1900 A.D.

That potion is snake oil. Take this pill.

1940 A.D.

That pill is useless. Take this antibiotic.

2000 A.D.

That antibiotic is no longer effective. Eat this root.

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Mayonnaise Experiments

    Learning to live gluten free is a journey that has yet to be mastered. At first I felt deprived (and maybe a bit whiny). Then you begin the process of ‘self care’ and learn about all of the good food that is available and the positive effect it can have on your health. You even begin to choose wisely and eat better than you ever did before.
    Baked goods and pasta are the initial food items that are replaced. There are gluten free baked goods and pasta showing up daily in unexpected places and for that I am so grateful.
    It turns out that gluten is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are individuals and entire families coping with multiple food allergies and sensitivities in addition to the gluten. And that is the reason for our experiments eliminating other specific ingredients. Rita and I are working on a ‘wish list’ for others whose food choices are much more constrained than our own.
    These past few weeks have seen multiple experiments in egg free, soy free mayonnaise and several jars of them reside in my fridge. They do not taste bad but they are definitely NOT mayonnaise or even mayonnaise-like. As much as I like tahini it does not belong in mayonnaise. The avocado experiment was OK but you would never use it in your tuna salad – that quintessential summertime favorite. Tofu is not to be considered even though it sounds interesting.
    Rita and I both have good recipes for potato salad and macaroni salad (we’re talking picnic food here) that do not use mayonnaise for a dressing. I make a yummy tuna, green bean, and black olive salad with vinaigrette dressing.
But we still are looking for the mayonnaise.

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Apples and Apple Pie

    Who knew that apples, really good apples, would grow in central Texas? People with knowledge and determination can make that happen. The two trees are Ein Shemer and Golden Dorsett varieties and this year have produced a true abundance of fruit. Friends and neighbors have been sharing in the harvest and over 200 pounds of these apples have been delivered to the local food pantry for distribution. The apple cobbler that I made on June 14th came from these trees.
    In picking apples there are a few things helpful to know beforehand. One thing is that when picking apples over your head you will get bonked in the head occasionally. Also, no matter how carefully you maneuver the apple picker another apple or two are likely to hit the ground while you are wrestling with the one. These broken and bruised ones are to be rescued ASAP by washing, trimming, peeling, dicing, and turning into pie. Apples are not allowed to be wasted!
    My pie crust did not turn out as well as I hoped. That was my fault for not following the carefully written instructions to the letter. The ingredients were all there but the step where you put it all together and then the dough chills in the refrigerator for several hours or even better, overnight – that part didn’t happen. It was still tasty but the texture was not quite there. I chose this recipe because of the cinnamon in the crust. The apples are so good that I wanted as few additions to the fruit as possible.

Apple Pie - Oven Ready

Apple Pie - Oven Ready

The Crust
I started with Shauna’s Favorite Pie Crust from her post in November 2006.
I’m going to do this again and get it right but it still made lovely pie.

The Filling
Apples, 4 or 5 cups of prepared apples
1/4 cup sugar, unrefined or otherwise, calorie-free or otherwise
    (This is just enough sugar to help pull out the juice; not a really sweet filling)
    (If you must have a really sweet filling, then double the dose)
1/4 cup raisins, cranberries, dates, maybe even figs
    (This ups the sweetness in a healthy way and appeases those who must have raisins)
1/4 cup gluten free starchy flour, corn starch, tapioca, or sweet rice

    Toss all the filling ingredients together in a bowl until the apples are evenly coated and then pour the apples into the crust. If you don’t have time to properly make the crust then just pour the apple mixture into a buttered baking pan. A nice baked apple casserole may not be pie but it is not bad either.

Apple Pie - Healthy Goodness

Apple Pie - Healthy Goodness

Confession: it has been so long since I ate a slice of pie including crust, that I had a big slice for mid-morning break. Then I had veggies for lunch, followed by TWO slices of pie for dinner – that is all, not dessert first, only dessert. Sometimes you can’t help yourself.

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Starbucks – A Gluten Free Cupcake

    Yes, these Starbucks Valencia Orange Cakes are Gluten Free. And someone put some serious nutritional consideration into them. Whole eggs, orange pulp, almonds, sugar, orange peel, baking powder, and orange oil are the ingredients with not a grain in sight. And they are wrapped in cellophane and sealed so that when you eat your cupcake you know that it was not cross-contaminated by all of the other baked goods in the display case.
    Valencia Orange Cakes are not low carbohydrate or low sugar but do offer 4 grams of fiber and 16 grams of fat to help steady your appetite PLUS 30% of your minimum daily recommended vitamin C for a moderate 290 calories. These are a healthier option even if you are not dealing with gluten issues.
    These little cakes do not compare taste wise to the usual sugary, fatty, gluten loaded options. If you are health conscious you know that there will be tradeoffs and you will make a choice for true nourishment over not-so-healthy treats. I am grateful that now I can go into Starbucks and enjoy a snack with my coffee without having to surreptitiously pull ‘emergency food’ out of my purse.

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Chex – Now Gluten Free

    Yes, they are Gluten Free. However, you might as well take a vitamin pill and be done with it. These highly-touted ‘gluten free’ wonders are still mostly starch and/or sugar except for the added vitamins. People, especially children or diabetics or anyone else for that matter, need to eat real food. Get off the carbo-train. These so-called cereals are comparable to an IV dose of sugar.

    Like many other gluten-impaired folk I was excited about the prospect of something new, easy and nutritious to tuck away in purse or briefcase for ‘emergency food’ in the way that I used to carry those mini shredded wheat biscuits. For now, as I sit here enduring a sugar buzz and burping vitamin taste, I will be staying with the baggies of dried fruit and nuts or the good old standby Larabar.

Sorry, I just had to say what I really was thinking.

    The good news here is that ‘gluten free’ is coming into the mainstream and manufacturers are trying to meet the need. More and more options are becoming available for those who do not have a health food store, large or small, nearby.

    Some of the everyday chain stores now have a ‘gluten free’ section and/or have educated staff that will gladly help you search out the things that you need. You can now find labels that specify ‘gluten free’ on items that never ever contained gluten. It took me a while to realize that this can be very helpful as newly diagnosed individuals begin to navigate their way into a new lifestyle.

    All around me family, friends, and acquaintances are exchanging home grown produce and discussing delicious ways to prepare these items. Someday when ‘Fast Food Nation’ is a dim memory all of us will honor ourselves by choosing foods that we know are going to nourish us. I hope we can look forward to ‘Fast Healthy Food Nation’ in the near future that encompasses all dietary choices and constraints.

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