Posts Tagged healthy

Ricki Heller’s ‘Good Morning!’ Breakfast eBook

    Several months ago when Ricki requested volunteers to test recipes for her breakfast ebook we jumped at the chance. Rita and I have been fans of Ricki’s nutrition philosophy and her delicious, nutritious recipes for quite a while. Even now, there is a double batch of her Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad  (we live in Texas where I serve it chilled with greens) in the refrigerator right now waiting to go to a potluck later today. The last time I brought this to a potluck I had to scrape the bowl to get a tiny amount to add to my lunch the next day!

Good Morning eBook

Good Morning eBook

Author:
Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN
Author of Sweet Freedom: Desserts You’ll Love without
Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar
Web: http://dietdessertndogs.com
Twitter: @RickiHeller
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dietdessertndogs
–Honorable Mention, 2010 Cuisine Canada Culinary Awards
–one of only three cookbooks recommended on Ellen DeGeneres’ website!

For a full Table of Contents and photos of many of the recipes, see this post.

Every one of these recipes is:
low glycemic
refined sugar free
egg free
dairy free
gluten free
Delicious!

The recipes are all great for anyone following an anti-Candida diet (ACD); for vegans; those on a gluten free, refined sugar free, egg free or kosher diet; or Type II diabetics.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita
PS – The Gluten Free Edge is moving to our own domain as soon as we sort out some of the technical tangles.

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HEB Gluten Free Products

    HEB is a Texas-based company with headquarters in San Antonio. This organization is very generous in support of The Caring Place (TCP) in Georgetown with their daily donations of bread and support of other TCP programs. They have also been long term suppliers of my most basic gluten-free grocery needs.

    I needed to replenish my Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cornmeal in order to make several pans of GF cornbread to be served at the Annual Soup Supper to benefit TCP (where Don and I both volunteer). Our nearby HEB on Williams Drive carries a good selection of these products.

    While I was shopping there I decided to check out their brand of pasta that Clara had tried and told me about. I was really curious because Don and I had been on the HEB product taste-testing panel quite some time ago. Also, as a volunteer in The Caring Place food pantry I often hear comments from people trying to manage gluten-free about how expensive it is. This is what I found.

HEB Brand Pasta & Sauce - All Gluten Free

HEB Brand Pasta & Sauce - All Gluten Free

Prices on March 1, 2011:
Gluten Free Fusilli $1.99
Gluten Free Spaghetti $1.99
Garlic & Herb Pasta Sauce labeled Gluten Free $1.89
Traditional Pizza Sauce labeled as allergen: milk $1.50
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Meal $3.58

    I also picked up Udi’s Whole Grain Sandwich Bread while I was there since there were only three slices remaining at home from the previous loaf. Price wise this one is in my ‘luxury item’ category. But it is handy to keep in the freezer for when I don’t have time to put together something else for the carb portion of a meal or snack.

    For staying healthy, whether you must eat gluten-free or not, a balanced diet is always in order. It takes planning ahead so that the right stuff is always available: in the fridge, in the pantry, in the car, wherever. It is critical to prevent a tumble over ‘The Gluten-Free Edge’ that lurks nearby. Given that criteria I can always rationalize a ‘luxury item’ 🙂

Gretchen

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SO Cultured Coconut Milk

    Rita first became interested in the probiotic qualities of fermented foods during her studies in Virginia. And when Chef Alain Braux, Austin-based nutritherapist, spoke about how fermented foods can promote intestinal healing in people with damage from gluten intolerance I determined it was time to give them a try. For the past two months I have used some of the recommended products.

    We were on my first shopping trip to Natural Grocers when Rita introduced me to this tangy, creamy SO Cultured Coconut Milk product (also known as SO Coconut Milk Kefir). And how strong could it be after appreciating the very strong taste of fermented daikon radishes? So I came home with a bottle.

SO Cultured Coconut Milk Beverage

SO Cultured Coconut Milk Beverage

    Several bottles later, it reminds me of the cultured buttermilk that I used to mix with pineapple juice and no-cal sweetener to create a beverage that tastes like pineapple sherbet. And I plan to try that mixture again especially after discovering that this beverage is so very thick. In the meantime I mix it half & half with water, add a few drops of stevia and enjoy a tangy, refreshing drink that feels really good in the tummy. I am definitely hooked on this.

    Right now it makes a nice bedtime treat but come summertime I am already thinking of tall, frosty, fruity drinks.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Natural Grocers in Austin and Pamela’s Cheesecake

    Don’t you just love finding new gluten-free products and places to shop that are within modest driving range? Especially a store that has a staff so knowledgeable, helpful, and personable that shopping is an adventure rather than a chore?

    When Rita first discovered a local Natural Grocers she was so excited. “Mom, the first thing I saw when I walked in was a whole rack of food labeled gluten-free. It was right at the front of the store. I didn’t have to hunt or ask; it was RIGHT THERE.”

Natural Grocers Storefront

Natural Grocers Storefront

 
The Natural Grocers monthly advertising flyer is here . Their business philosophy is explained on page 4. Next time we shop there I need to bring bags and a cooler to bring home some of their beautiful fresh, organic produce.

    As I peered into Rita’s car I saw that she had a couple of cardboard boxes full of grocery items. Was she so excited that she bought cases? No, it seems that Natural Grocers is totally green, ‘bring your own bag(s)’. They have their discarded cardboard boxes available for reuse if you forgot to bring bags but they do not have any plastic or paper bags.

    Rita was so excited about the new products that she found. One of them was a miniature cheesecake made by Pamela’s – yes, Pamela’s of the baking mixes that first eased our transition into the gluten-free world. (Hmmm, now I am thinking about those biscotti that I haven’t made in quite a while from the Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix.)

    An Agave Sweetened New York Cheesecake – this is classic Sara Lee’s gluten-free cousin. OMG, three times we have purchased one of these 3 inch little jewels and they have yet to make it out of the parking lot! Like mother, like daughter, the two of us are “have fork, will travel” food adventurers.

Rita (with cheesecake), Joel, and Nate

Rita (with cheesecake), Joel, and Nate

    There are currently three locations in the Austin and Cedar Park area. The one that Rita first discovered was at Arbor Walk. We don’t know if the one in Cedar Park is open yet but the website says February so we will be checking it out. And there is one more to the South in Austin on Guadalupe.

Austin – Arbor Walk Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
10515 N. Mopac Expressway, Bldg. L
Austin, TX 78759
Hours: M-S 8:56-8:04 Sun 8:56-6:06
Phone: (512) 231 9200
(P.S. It doesn’t hurt our feelings that DSW Shoes is there at Arbor Walk also)

Austin Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
3901 Guadalupe St.
Austin, TX 78751-4522
Hours: M-Sat 8:56-8:04 Sun 8:56-6:06
Phone: (512) 323-5100

Cedar Park – Opening February 2011! Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
1335 Whitestone Blvd Bldg G-17
Cedar Park, TX 80104
(Half Price Books, another of our favorites, is in the same shopping center)

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Microwave Baked Apples

    The SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient for September is apples.  There are so many varieties of apples in the market right now. Choose your favorite or one of the weekly specials.  Usually I go for Golden Delicious but the Pink Lady variety is relatively new and entirely wonderful.  Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Kim at Affairs of Living.  Be sure to check out the SOS Kitchen Challenge for September site for lots of other healthy recipe submissions by other bloggers.

    This is a naturally gluten-free treat that Don and I have enjoyed over the years. It began as apple pie with crust, canned pie-sliced apples, and lots of sugar, raisins, and cinnamon. The recipe morphed into baked apples after we received a set of individual ceramic baking dishes and decided that as a regular dessert it was better not to have all of that crust.
    After a while those convenient water-packed pie–sliced apples were no longer available so we alternated between baked apples from scratch or baked apples from pie filling enhanced with raisins and more cinnamon. The high-fructose-corn-syrup in pie filing always tasted like glue to me so I only ate baked apples when we used fresh apples.
    We began to experiment with the current recipe about ten years ago – while we were still living in the country. It was there that we settled on this mix of fresh, partially peeled apples, no-cal sweetener (I really was sneaky about the switchover), plenty of cinnamon, good vanilla to enhance the fruit flavor, and raisins. I always liked raisins. But no one I’ve ever known likes them as much as Don. His motto is ‘too many raisins is not enough’ – there is a song that goes something like that but it is not really about raisins.
    When we started using the microwave to cook in we switched from the ceramic bowls to inexpensive microwave-safe glass bowls so we prepare, bake, and serve all in the same easy-clean dishes.

Individual Baked Apple Desserts
1 apple per serving
1-2 tablespoons seedless raisins per serving
1 packet Truvia per serving (this is equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar)
Cinnamon to taste
About 6 drops of vanilla per serving

    Start with freshly washed and dried apples. Quarter, seed, and peel or not peel to your preference. I like a little more peeling and Don likes less. Cut each quarter into small bites and place a cut up apple in each microwavable serving dish.

A Quick and Easy Preparation

A Quick and Easy Preparation

    Add the raisins – here Don likes more and I like less. Then sprinkle the Truvia crystals over the fruit. Shake some cinnamon on top of the crystals and add the drops of vanilla. Stir to distribute then raisins and seasoning. Add some more cinnamon – almost always.
    Place the desserts in the microwave and set the timer for two minutes. Stir and cook for another minute. The apples will have started releasing juice and getting tender. The cinnamon, sweetener, vanilla, and apple juice are blending into a delectable coating for the apples and raisins. Microwave the mixture for one more minute. Remove the desserts to a rack and cover until somewhat cool. Right out of the microwave it will burn your tongue and that is not fun.

Baked and Ready to Serve

Baked and Ready to Serve

    This dessert is really good plain. The tart bites of apple with the sweet bits of raisin do not need embellishment. Top with a handful of chopped walnuts and you have breakfast.
    A tiny bit of fresh sweet cream, whipped cream, ice cream, full fat coconut milk, or a non-dairy frozen dessert makes an acceptable topping. One of those frozen-synthetic-low-fat-imitation-whipped-toppings is an insult to a good apple but if that is what rocks the boat for someone you love then you keep a tub of it in the freezer for them.
    Apples are in season and it is time to enjoy them!

Gretchen (Mom)

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Fig-Lemon Walnut-Streusel Cake

    The SOS Kitchen Challenge is going on and I am not going to make the cut this month. There has been too much going on and did I mention that Central Texas fruit trees have me swamped in frozen and cooked, pureed fruit? So if you love peppermint you need to check in with Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs  and/or Kim at Affairs of Living for fabulous MINT recipes, mint being the challenge ingredient for August.
    During the next few months I will be looking at ways to create gluten-free recipes using mostly staples found on the shelves at The Caring Place food pantry. The organization is in the process of stepping up to the next level in service and has formed a focus group to look at useful options. I will be looking at making gluten-free easier for people who do not have the luxury of time to experiment.
    So right now I am finishing up a few experiments that have been rattling around in my head. This afternoon it was using puree I had prepared from fresh figs. Rita was laughing at me as I sniffed the batter and tried to decide what flavor options to emphasize and how to do it. She giggled and accused me of ‘huffing spices’.
    And I was so engrossed I forgot to take pictures along the way. Happily this is not just good cake it is REALLY GOOD. We are planning on having some more of it for breakfast in the morning.

Looks Good, Smells Good, Tastes Good!

Looks Good, Smells Good, Tastes Good!

Fresh Fig Puree:
About 4 cups of fresh figs, cut in halves or quarters depending on size
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons agave syrup (to help draw the natural juice from the figs)
Place the figs, water, and syrup in a 1 quart saucepan that has a heavy bottom and a tight fitting lid. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat on low. Be patient while the heat begins to ‘melt’ the figs and draw out their juice. The lid on my pan was glass so I could watch the steam gather and begin to baste the fruit. The figs should cook until tender but don’t boil them to pieces either. Stir occasionally so all of the pieces are evenly cooked. The flavor is delicate and you want to keep as much as possible.
    Remove the pan from the stove to cool when the fruit is done. When it has cooled somewhat then transfer the mixture into your blender jar. Push the button that says ‘puree’ and watch carefully. You may need to scrape down the sides for an even texture. This should not take more than a minute or so. Small bits of pulp are a good thing. Take a tiny taste – if it is not ‘fruity sweet’ then add a few drops of stevia to help it out. This should give you the amount of puree needed for the cake. A little more or less is OK. If the cake has more moisture then it will just bake a little longer.
Note: this can be stored in the refrigerator for several days before putting into the cake.

Wet Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups fig puree (about)
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon ground chia seed
1/2 teaspoon fruit pectin
1/4 cup coconut oil (your choice of liquid cooking oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil (found with essential oils and not with extracts)

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups quinoa flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Walnut-Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup quinoa flour
3 small packets Truvia sweetener
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup margarine (Earth Balance)(coconut oil probably OK)
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts (or your favorite nuts)
2 tablespoons agave syrup

    1. Pour the fig puree into a bowl. Sprinkle the chia seed across the surface and stir in quickly so it doesn’t have a chance to clump. Do the same with the pectin. Stir in the coconut oil, vanilla, and lemon oil and set the mixture aside.
    2. Sift the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl, stir with a whisk, and set aside.
    3. Prepare the streusel topping by mixing the flour, Truvia granules, and spices together. Cut in the margarine (or cold coconut butter) with a pastry blender. Add the chopped nuts. Lightly stir in the syrup with a fork. Then set this aside.
    4. Turn the oven on to 350*F. Lightly oil or spray 2 9” square pans and set aside.

    Stir the fig mixture quickly into the flour mixture. Divide the batter into the prepared pans and spread out evenly to the corners. Then carefully sprinkle the streusel mixture on top and press gently into the surface of the batter.

Remembering All of the Alterations

Remembering All of the Alterations

    Bake for about 25 minutes. If it still seems a little too moist then turn off the oven and let it remain for 2-3 more minutes in the residual heat.

Some thoughts about this recipe:
Most of the ingredients are nutritional superstars. This treat can be dessert or a meal. The flour ingredients are exactly the same as the Rhubarb-Date Pecan-Crumble recipe. The changes were the base puree and the spices and flavoring. I plan to experiment with different fruits and even mixing fruit and veggie, for instance banana or white squash with lemon and encourage others to play with it also. The ingredients that give this cake texture and post-baking stability are 1) chia seed stands in for an egg and 2) the fruit pectin combines with the acid in the fruit and the sugar in the agave to form the gel that produces jams and jellies.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Rhubarb-Date Pecan-Crumble Cake

This recipe is submitted to the SOS Kitchen Challenge hosted by Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs and Kim at Affairs of Living
    The choice of rhubarb for the June SOS Kitchen Challenge was – well, challenging. First, I have never tasted rhubarb. And possibly because I have never purchased rhubarb I have never noticed any at the farmer’s market or grocery stores. After reading the descriptions and warnings I went off looking for a huge bundle of poisonous green leaves hiding red rhubarb stalks. This is what turned up after searching several stores:

Rhubarb from the Grocery Store

Rhubarb from the Grocery Store

    This was a surprise, although a good one – the poisonous leaves were already eliminated and I refuse to speculate on that. After a thorough washing it was time to dice. I had a recipe for an applesauce coffee cake that was my baseline for this attempt and dicing the rhubarb into 1/2” – 3/4” pieces was the first step. But what’s with all the string? This is way stringier than my beloved celery.

Not Sure About All That String

Not Sure About All That String

    Most of the string was stripped off during the dicing process while I worried about whether losing it would affect the color. That turned out to be the least of the issues. (It was great to discover that rhubarb does not stain the counters and surroundings like beets.)

Somewhat Under Control

Somewhat Under Control

    So into the saucepan it went; along with some chopped dates to sweeten it up, a bit of water and agave syrup for the cake. It simmered gently until the rhubarb was coming apart.

    I had failed to note that the original recipe included tofu and my system can’t handle that. So then began the mental scramble that usually results when substitutions are necessary. There were also flour modifications in keeping with my whole ‘no-grass-plants-allowed’ mindset right now. It became an all-out juggling act.

Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

    Plus my square pans are all 8” so several cupcakes took up the extra batter and crumble topping. The crumble topping is messy and umm, crumbly. Maybe next time a layer of batter, crumble for filling, and the batter on top, kind of like the once popular sock-it-to-me cake.

Fresh Out of the Oven

Fresh Out of the Oven

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped, 1/2”-3/4” bits
3.5 ounces pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon ground chia seed
1/2 teaspoon fruit pectin
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups quinoa flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup milk, optional (Almond Breeze)

Pecan-Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup margarine (Earth Balance)
3/4 cup chopped pecans (use your favorite nuts or crispy cereal for crunch)
(I thought about crumbling a rice cake but already had too much going on)

Put the rhubarb, dates, water, and syrup in a saucepan and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes. The rhubarb should be very soft by then. Remove the pan from the stove and allow to cool. Stir in the chia seed, pectin, coconut oil, and vanilla and set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl and set aside.

Prepare the crumble topping by mixing the flour and cinnamon together. Cut in the margarine (or cold coconut butter) with a pastry blender. Lightly stir in the syrup with a fork. Then add in the nuts.

Turn the oven on to 350*F.  Lightly oil or spray a 9” square pan and set aside.

The rhubarb mixture should be fairly cool by now.  Stir it quickly into the flour mixture.  If the batter is really thick then add the 1/4 cup of milk.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread out evenly to the corners.  Then carefully spoon the crumble mixture on top and spread evenly also while pressing gently into the surface of the batter.

Bake for about 35 minutes.  If it still seems a little too moist then turn off the oven and let it remain to bake for 5-10 more minutes in the residual heat of the oven.

Allow the cake to cool thoroughly.  As with many of these stronger flours it will be better the longer it cools.  It is really best if you can make it a day ahead.

Mom (Gretchen)

Postscript: The Sit ‘N Stitch ladies were at Barb’s house today and I brought this over for taste testing.  This little cake went over very well.  So the question is: if people appreciate the taste of nutritious food then why doesn’t the food industry provide it?  It could be done . . . .

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