Posts Tagged healthy diet

Vegetarian Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes

    Back in December 2010, shortly before Christmas, Rita and I attended a book signing at Book People in Austin. Chef Alain Braux was signing his book Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food  and serving samples of his legendary Flourless Chocolate Cake.

    At that time Alain gave us permission to publish his recipe for Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes. Since then I have cooked up many, many of those crêpes. The batter holds up very well in the refrigerator so I can have crêpes for several mornings before all of the batter is gone. Initially the filling centered on variations of ham, egg, and cheese but as we move into spring my thoughts turn to lighter versions. This concoction of smothered sweet onions, mushrooms, and calabacitas* in coconut milk sauce passed the taste test with our neighbors Barb and Dona.

*Note: Calabacitas is Spanish for ‘little squash’. It looks like a first cousin to zucchini being shaped slightly different and having a lighter, mottled green color. The seeds are finer and disappear almost entirely when cooked.

    The recipe for the crêpe can be found -> HERE. BTW, I cook these crêpes using coconut oil because  1) it has exceptional browning qualities and 2) coconut oil is very healing to the digestive system.

Savory Vegetable Filling
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped 3/8”
1 medium calabacita or zucchini, chopped 3/8”
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
sea salt, pepper, garlic powder
coconut oil for sautéing
1-2 ounces coconut milk (from a can)

    Sauté each of the vegetables separately in coconut oil until lightly browned and season each batch with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside the mushrooms and squash as they finish. When the onions have caramelized add the mushrooms and squash back into the skillet with the onions. Add the coconut milk, cover with a lid, and place over low heat to ‘smother’ until you are ready to fill and serve the crêpes.
    Extra filling may be stored in the refrigerator as well as extra batter.

Sauteed Onion, Mushroom, and Calabacita

Sauteed Onion, Mushroom, and Calabacita

    I had one of these crêpes for dinner. I took a picture of it for the blog, and then I inadvertently deleted it before saving it to the hard drive . . . . Maybe because I was daydreaming about how it would be possible to add ‘smell-a-vision’ to the picture. It was that good!

Gretchen

Update 2011-03-21: Another Savory Crêpe – yummy as well as beautiful!

Crepe for Dinner!

Crepe for Dinner!

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Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    March 15 was the day of the 2011 Soup Supper annual fund raiser for The Caring Place. Every year the best restaurants in Georgetown contribute gallons of their specialty soups and TCP volunteers donate cornbread and desserts. Aside from baking we also put on aprons and serve our guests who come to enjoy the meal.

    There is also a silent auction featuring some of the very nicest things from the in-house Fabulous Finds resale store. Clothing from the boutique is modeled to show off the incredible quality that can be found in that department.

    Once again I baked gluten-free cornbread. Last year I made one batch of scratch cornbread and one batch from a mix. The scratch gluten-free version was no doubt the favorite. So this year I baked two double batches of scratch cornbread.

    I made a test batch a few weeks ago just to be sure I would not mess up a lot of expensive ingredients and I am glad that I did. I found that the cornmeal remaining from last year, carefully stored in the freezer, had developed an ‘off’ taste. So every year that I make this I will be sure to buy a fresh bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornmeal.

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    Astigmatism makes cutting straight lines a challenge so I got out my ancient, trusty forms ruler from data processing days. Yes, the little sticker has my name on it. Back-in-the-day Don and I had his-and-her forms rulers; definitely a geeky household here.

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

    It is wonderful how many people turn out to support this organization. By the time I gathered my few remaining wits together we were winding down, most of the cornbread was gone, but I did manage to snap a photo of Amanda. She was charming and cheerful throughout the evening and the time passed very quickly.

Amanda Serving Cornbread

Amanda Serving Cornbread

    We were wearing the yellow construction ‘hard’ hats to call attention to the fact that work has already started on the new food pantry facility at The Caring Place. Donation boxes on the tables were another subtle reminder.

    Those of us who work in the pantry are delighted that this construction has begun. We are also anticipating a better warehouse area for managing the storage of food and more efficient stocking of the pantry.

Gretchen

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ATX Austin Gluten-Free Pizza Fest

ATX Austin GF Pizza Fest

ATX Austin GF Pizza Fest

 
    Pizza celebrations have been going on for almost two weeks now. ATX Austin Gluten-Free Pizza Fest is sponsored by Jessica Meyer. She keeps us informed about all of the gluten-free options in this part of Texas. I missed the first part while out of town but Don and I finally had our home grown pizza fest.

    During the last year I have tried numerous recipes trying to come up with the optimum nutritious pizza recipe for gluten-free and otherwise allergic and digestive challenged family and friends.

    We had a crust that Don liked but it did not meet the allergy friendly criteria. In the interim he has gone back to making his own glutinous crust while I experiment with the gluten-free versions. For the sake of consistency Don then adds identical toppings to both pizza crusts.

    I think I finally have the amounts of flours and binders along with seasoning, oil, and leavening. It makes up into dough that handles well and is sturdy enough to support the toppings. But I am still tweaking the taste component of the flour blend. This time the texture was excellent but the coconut flour made it too sweet. So I am posting the amounts until such time as we together bake pizza and Don declares it a winner.

Hers (GF) and His (not GF) Pizzas

Hers (GF) and His (not GF) Pizzas

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust
2 cups gluten-free flour blend
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 teaspoon ground chia seed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon oregano, marjoram, or basil (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups of water (will vary with the flour blend)

    Oil a 12” pizza pan and set it aside. Set the oven for 425*F.

    Measure the dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl. The seasonings are optional but some of the denser, high nutrition flours have stronger flavors that need a little help to bring the crust over to the Italian side.

    Add a cup of the water and then the oil to the flour mixture. Stir well for at least a minute to see how much of the flour does not blend into the dough. Add the remaining water a little at a time until all of the flour is incorporated and you have a lump of dough that is resilient and very hard to stir. Dump it out on your work space and knead it until all traces of flour blend in. Form it into a flattened ball and move it to your prepared pizza pan.

    Continue to flatten the dough while rotating the pan. The two cups of flour makes enough dough that it should generously cover the bottom of the pan and have plenty to build up a nice edge to hold your sauce and toppings. Slide the pan into the oven for a 6-7 minute pre-bake.

    At this point I turn the gluten-free pizza crust over to Don and he adds toppings to both pizzas, puts them in the oven to bake, and calls me when dinner is ready.

Gretchen

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Ricki Heller’s Recipe Books

    Can you imagine ‘tastes great’ and ‘healthy’ as describing the same recipe? Ricki Heller with her PhD in nutrition and love of good food manages to create recipes that do just that. Living in Toronto and backed by years of experience teaching, running a bakery, and veteran of  television demos, she uses her imagination to create new and innovative recipes to nourish the body and delight the spirit.

    As I began to follow Ricki’s blog ‘Diet, Dessert, and Dogs’ I drooled over the recipes, admired the photography, and enjoyed the saucy comments allegedly from said dogs, Elsie and Chaser. I decided ‘what the heck’ I’ll just sub in some gluten-free flours and see what happens. Somehow that first attempt was a winner and I began cooking more and more recipes from Ricki’s blog. Before long I was following along the trail that Ricki was blazing and gluten-free wasn’t so bland anymore. 

    Ricki’s first recipe book, Sweet Freedom, was published in 2009 and in April 2010 made it to Ellen DeGeneres ‘bookshelf’.  This recipe book is filled with wonderful healthy vegan dessert treats. Vegan? I never thought to go that way until I realized that when family and friends mentioned egg and/or dairy allergy that the vegan recipes automatically cover those conditions.

    When Ricki began designing gluten-free, vegan breakfast dishes for those battling Candida infections I knew that those were automatically good for folks dealing with diabetes. It has been pointed out to me that you cannot cover ALL dietary constraints with one recipe and I agree. However it is possible to share delicious food with people and cover many issues without treating them as a big deal.

     That is why when Ricki announced her new recipe ebook in development and put out a request for recipe testers I jumped right in there. ‘Blended Cereal with a Boost’ was pictured in The Gluten-Free Edge on January 20th right after my Pork and Beans in Pumpkin Sauce recipe. ‘Blended Cereal with a Boost’ is the best hot cereal I have ever tasted!

     The latest test recipe was the multi-serving baked pancake pictured below. I loved it because this is real fuel that kept me going for hours and it was light and luscious. Ricki hopes to have her new eBook, Top of the Morning: ACD Recipes without Sugar, Gluten, Eggs or Dairy, published sometime in March so stay tuned!

Giant Upside-Down Apple Pancake

Giant Upside-Down Apple Pancake

Doesn’t that look delicious?

Gretchen (Mom)

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hCG Experience – Week 1

I haven’t written a post in a while…not that Mom hasn’t been on my case to do so. She is on vacation so I thought I would surprise her and hop back in here again.

I am currently enrolled in the Masters of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas. Yes, I am very busy but I am learning so much about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that I do eventually want to share it all. I just have to learn how to communicate it!

Yin Yang Symbol

Yin and Yang

I had written before about my journey in trying to regain my health. I moved to Austin last summer and found access to alternative healthcare resources here. I had continued to experience fatigue and anxiety…tried some acupuncture at the AOMA student clinic and had a blood test with follow-up herbal treatment for my liver at a local chiropractor…but these have still continued.

I experimented in November with homeopathic HCG (very diluted version of hormone) as I also wrestle with my weight. The scale creeps up if I don’t watch it. I was on the diet and drops for 18 days and lost 10 pounds, mainly around my torso. But monthly hormones stopped me cold as I was supposed to continue on the drops for a minimum of 21 days to maximum of 41 days. I loved how I looked but could not go the distance or maintain the loss.

During the holidays, I got searching on the Internet and found a clinic that provides the hCG shots (actual hormone) within a comprehensive 12-week wellness program. Well, of course that costs more than just buying the homeopathic version and doing it on your own…but since I had obstacles I could not overcome on my own, I signed up. I was curious when I first started researching HCG weight loss information and I figure I can at least provide others with what actually happens to me. I am excited.

Week 1

The program begins with a four-week cleanse. I am on a restricted diet as to choices, but for most of the time I can eat any amount I want. Highlights of what I cannot have: red or deli meats, eggs, dairy or milk products, gluten or corn products, nuts or seeds and dried fruits. I also drink a powered functional food supplement (chocolate) that I whip up in the blender to make sure it mixes well. I completed this and had a 4.5 loss on the scale for the week. I know, mainly water! I also found out through blood and saliva tests taken at the initial visit that I need some hormone and thyroid prescriptions and Vitamin D3 and Iron Glycinate supplements.

I am happy to have the additional support resulting from these tests. But what also has me thinking is that except for the dairy and gluten, I eat most of the eliminated food items I listed all the time. When I go on maintenance, I am definitely rethinking what comes back in my diet. It is funny how old habits take new forms…so even though eating gluten-free and more simply, I am highly motivated to evolve yet again to eat the kind of fuel that would maintain my now older body, but hopefully lower body weight.

Good to be back and more to come!

Rita 🙂

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Quinoa – Learning to Love It

    Quinoa (kee-nwa) was an ancient food of the Incas – it was considered sacred and referred to as ‘mother of all grains’. Although no longer widely known or used it is gaining in popularity due to its nutritional qualities and versatility.

    Unlike most other grains and seeds quinoa contains all of the amino acids needed for humans to assimilate as a high-value protein. In addition to being gluten-free and easy to digest it is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.

    The quinoa seeds, as harvested, have a somewhat soapy and slightly bitter coating of saponins that discourage birds from consuming the seeds. Most quinoa available at your local grocers has been pre-soaked and rinsed to remove this coating. I always soak and rinse my quinoa whether it is presented in bulk or packaged and labeled as pre-rinsed. This insures that the seeds are clean, tender, and ready to accept the seasonings in your recipes be they sweet or savory.  Evidently a short-lived experiment in raising quinoa without the saponins coating resulted in birds consuming most of the harvest. And so I soak  . . . .

1) Measure out the quinoa and add enough water so that the mixture is slushy when stirred.

Quinoa Seeds Soaking

Quinoa Seeds Soaking

2) Pour the slush into a mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse. If the soaking water is only slightly hazy when stirring then 15-20 minutes is probably enough. These pictures are of bulk quinoa that needed about an hour of soaking and a change of water to clear.

Draining the Soaked Quinoa

Draining the Soaked Quinoa

3) Dump the soaked quinoa into your pan and cover with water. Turn the heat on medium until the mixture starts to bubble. Then turn the heat down low and put on the lid. Watch it very carefully until it settles down to a steady simmer because like oatmeal or pasta it will make fierce bubbles that climb the pot walls and boil over onto the stove.

Turning Up the Heat

Turning Up the Heat

4) The quinoa is done when it looks something like a sand dune on top with minor dips and valleys that are no longer moving. There should be no liquid visible when you take a spoon and check the bottom of the pot.

This Batch Is Fully Cooked

This Batch Is Fully Cooked

    Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking pasta in that you may prefer it very tender or ‘al dente’. You may pre-cook it for a recipe or add it directly to liquids in the recipe. It has the capacity to absorb an amazing amount of flavor from added ingredients. I pre-cook it over low heat for 15-45 minutes; then turn off the heat and let it cool slowly on the burner. The longer it was soaked the shorter the cooking time. Also, if there is still water and it is cooked as long as you like then just drain of the excess water. If you cook it without salt or seasoning then you can use a portion of it in a sweet recipe and the remainder in a savory dish like this one.

    This basic recipe was served at a potluck lunch meeting and received very favorable comments. It was prepared with a large, sweet onion and two fresh tomatoes. I included some ground turkey breast to make it a main dish meal.

    When I make it for Rita, who is currently avoiding nightshade plants I use washed and chopped zucchini in place of the tomatoes. The resulting texture is very similar. I also add a small carrot cut in bits to provide some color,

Savory Quinoa Casserole
Ingredients:
1 cup of dry quinoa cooked with 2 total cups of liquid = 2-2.5 cups cooked quinoa
(If a can of organic diced tomatoes is used for part of the liquid then omit the fresh, sliced tomatoes.)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground yellow mustard (French’s yellow mustard works – it is gluten-free)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced (optional, see above, or zucchini))
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Directions:
    Heat the oil on medium or medium high  in a large skillet that has a lid.  Add your mustard and bay leaf to the oil and let it sizzle. Stir while adding your cumin and wait a few seconds before adding the onion.
    Sauté the onion until it starts to soften and turn brown. Add ginger, tomatoes (or zucchini/carrot), and turmeric. Let soften and then add your quinoa, stirring it in gently and sprinkling with salt. Reduce heat and cover, cooking for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir once, sprinkle with cilantro, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.
    If you add meat, tofu, or beans then include it already prepared along with the quinoa. This is a good recipe to extend leftovers from another meal. And any local vegetables in season are excellent options.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Chef Alain Braux

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Press Release:
    Edible Austin presents author Alain Braux talking about his new book, Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food at  BookPeople on Monday, February 14, from 7–9 pm. Treat yourself (and perhaps a loved one) to an evening of conversation with Chef Braux (recently named in the Top 10 Food Celebrity list as well as a Best Sweet Bites of 2010 by the Austin Chronicle), who will prepare his bliss-inducing Flourless Chocolate Torte for us. Also meet Sarah Bartholow from Hail Merry, who will be sampling a selection of their scrumptious gluten-free and vegan products. We’ll also have a selection of celebratory beverages on hand. Free!
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    Alain’s comment `gluten-free junk food is still junk food’ is such an astute observation. He believes we should eat thoughtfully, be aware, and indulge joyfully on special occasions. Enjoy dessert on Valentine’s Day at Book People and chat with Alain – he loves to talk about food!

For those of you who live in Georgetown you can find a copy of Alain’s book at the Georgetown Public Library – NBNF 641.563 BRAU.

    Alain is also the author of How to Lower your Cholesterol with French Food. Both books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions.

Features found in his book aside from the wonderful recipes:
1) Narratives from people about their journey of GFCF discovery – one of these stories might be your `aha!’ trigger
2) Sympathy for the many reasons you may be attempting to self medicate and suggestions on how to find the right doctor
3) Why keeping a food journal is so very important (there may be additional sensitivities)
4) Setting yourself up for gluten-free and casein-free success
5) A comprehensive list of resources for Celiac Disease and Autism including books, magazines, organizations, and online support
6) Those mysterious food additives that could indicate `hidden’ gluten – pages of them
7) `Safe’ and `not safe’; in medication, vitamins, toiletries, household cleaners

    Rita and I visited with Alain recently at People’s RX at the Westlake location where you will find an extensive gluten-free grocery section and gluten-free options in the deli. The North Lamar and South Lamar locations also have gluten-free options in the deli.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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