January 13, 2009

A Happy New Year Treat

Happy 2009 everybody!

It's New Year's Resolution time again and many of us have made ourselves promises to become healthier in 2009.  In that spirit, here's a vegan, dairy-free, grain-free, sugar-free treat that everyone is sure to love.  Orange Julius shakes were a childhood favorite of mine, and this recipe really comes close!

"Orange Juli-esque"

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1-1 1/2 cups of homemade almond milk*
  • 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together in a blender, adjusting the amount of almond milk depending on the consistency desired.  For a non-vegetarian protein boost, blend in an organic raw egg.  Serves 2.

*For about 3 cups of homemade almond milk, blend 1 1/2 cups raw almonds with 3 cups water and strain through a colander lined with cheesecloth.  Optionally, you can add 1 tablespoon of honey and/or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

December 05, 2008

Gingerbread Cookies

All right, it seems like I've been doing nothing but talking about food lately, but 'tis the season...

My kids and I made some delicious gingerbread bears today.  We were going to make men, but that cookie cutter is hiding somewhere.  These cookies came out crunchy and sweet with just a hint of spice.  There's nothing like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves to warm you up on a cold winter day!

I adapted this recipe to fit the ingredients I had on hand.  It's gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and egg-free:

Gingerbread Bears

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (I think 2 tsp would have been fine)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (may contain corn starch)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 5 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine (I used Whole Foods' brand), softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • extra rice flour for dusting when rolling and cutting out cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets.

Cream margarine, sugars, agave, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients.  Dough will be stiff.

Roll out dough on waxed paper or parchment paper dusted with rice flour until dough is 1/8 inch thick.  Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut out cookies.  Use a flour-dusted spatula to transfer cookies to baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated oven, or until cookies are firm to the touch.

Cool and decorate if desired.  We couldn't wait and gobbled them up "naked"!

November 25, 2008

Healthy Thanksgiving Treats - Day Five

Gravy, mmmmmm gravy.....  It's like the magic that brings the Thanksgiving meal together!  Here are two gravy recipes sure to delight - and they're dairy-free and gluten-free!

Turkey Gravy Recipe

  • 1 cup turkey drippings
  • 2 cups water, turkey stock, or chicken stock
  • tapioca flour
  • black pepper

With the turkey drippings still in the bottom of the roasting pan, place the pan over 2 stove burners and heat each burner to low-medium heat.  Add 1 cup water or stock and simmer 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

Transfer mixture to a saucepan and add the second cup of water or stock.  Bring to a simmer, stirring often.

In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons tapioca flour with enough of the liquid to make a smooth paste.  Stir the paste into the simmering liquid a teaspoon at a time until the gravy is the desired thickness.

Add black pepper to taste.  The finished gravy is a dark brown color with a satiny consistency.


Mushroom Gravy Recipe

(From Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, by the Moosewood Collective)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups hot potato water (from boiling mashed potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (or tapioca flour or arrowroot) dissolved in 1/2 cup water

Heat the oil in a skillet.  Stir in the mushrooms, tamari, and black pepper.  Saute, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender.  Add potato water and bring to a boil.  Slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook at a low boil, continuing to stir, until the gravy is clear and thick.

November 24, 2008

Healthy Thanksgiving Treats - Day Four

Here is a recipe for gluten-free and dairy-free mashed potatoes.  My kids like to make mashed potato volcanoes with gravy.  And speaking of gravy, tune in tomorrow for great gravy recipes!

Marvelous Mashed Potatoes

  • 6 large or 10-12 small russet, red, or gold potatoes
  • 3/4 - 1 cup unsweetened soy, rice, nut, or hemp milk OR water
  • 1/4 cup wheat-free tamari
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy, non-hydrogenated margarine
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper

Chunk potatoes and boil until just soft.  Drain and place in a large bowl.  Add margarine and mash together well.  Add tamari.  Add milk or water slowly until desired consistency is acheived.  (You may not use all the liquid.)  Add garlic powder and black pepper to taste.

For a vitamin boost, leave the skins on the potatoes.  For creamier mashed potatoes, peel the potatoes before cooking.

November 23, 2008

Healthy Thanksgiving Treats - Day Three

Cranberry sauce has always been one of my favorite parts of our Thanksgiving feast.  Here are three recipes that leave out the refined sugar...and the can!


Cranberry Sauce #1

(From Nikki and David Goldbeck's American Wholefoods Cuisine)

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 cup apple juice (unfiltered is best)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon grated or minced orange rind

Combine cranberries, apple juice, and honey in a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes until berries pop.  Remove from heat and stir in rind.  Cool to room temperature, then chill in a covered container.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.

For Crunchy Cranberry Relish, add up to 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans and/or 1/2 cup chopped celery to the mixture.


Cranberry Sauce #2

(From Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, by The Moosewood Collective)

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 - 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • grated rind and juice of one orange (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • dash of cinnamon

Wash and drain the cranberries.  Remove any soft or discolored cranberries and any leaves or stems.

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring, until the cranberries have popped and the sauce is thick.

Serve hot or cold.  Yields 2 cups.


Cranberry Sauce #3 - Cranberry Chutney

(From The Bread and Circus Whole Food Bible, by Christopher S. Kilham)

  • 1/3 cup molasses (or agave nectar or honey or maple syrup)
  • 1/3 cup barley malt syrup (or agave nectar or honey or maple syrup)
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup toasted* walnuts, coarsely chopped

Place the molasses, barley malt, vinegar and spices in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the cranberries, pineapple, raisins, and walnuts and simmer for 30 minutes or until the cranberries have burst and are tender.

Refrigerate the mixture for several hours before serving.  Makes about 4 cups.

*To toast the walnuts, bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

November 21, 2008

Healthy Thanksgiving Treats - Day Two

Here are the pumpkin pie filling recipes I promised.  Better try them out a few times before the big day.  You know, to get them just right......

Pumpkin Pie #1:  Nutty Pumpkin Pie With Honey

(From The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, by Marjorie Hurt Jones, R.N.)

  • 1/2 cup Brazil nuts or cashews
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 2 tablespoons cool water
  • 1 baked crust

In a blender, grind the nuts to a fine powder.  With the motor off, scrape the bottom of the jar with a spatula and blend again.  Add 1/2 cup of the boiling water and process for 2 minutes.  Add the remaining boiling water and blend for 10 to 20 seconds.

Add the pumpkin, honey or agave nectar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and cloves.  Blend well.

In a 3-quart saucepan, dissolve the arrowroot in the cool water.  Stir in the pumpkin mixture.  Bring to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce the heat and cook for 3 minutes.  Reduce the heat and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat, let cool until lukewarm, and pour into the pie shell.  Chill a few hours before serving.


Pumpkin Pie #2:  Old-fashioned Pumpkin Pie

(From The Gluten-Free Gourmet, by Bette Hagman)

  • 2 eggs
  • 16 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup sugar*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups cream or nondairy substitute**
  • 1 unbaked crust

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs slightly.  Add pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spice.  Stir together.  Add the cream and mix thoroughly.  Pour into the unbaked crust.  Bake in preheated 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake another 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.  Cool.

Serve cold with whipped cream or whipped nondairy topping if desired.

*Substitute 1/2 cup agave nectar, honey, or molasses for the sugar and reduce cream by 1/2 cup.

**Try substituting Silk creamer or vanilla soy yogurt.

November 20, 2008

Healthy Thanksgiving Treats - Day One

Eating well can be a challenge at any time, but the holidays can be particularly difficult, especially for people with food sensitivities.  In this week leading up to Thanksgiving, I will offer a few of my favorite healthy recipes which avoid some of the common problem foods.

I will start with the ultimate Thanksgiving treat - Pumpkin Pie!  Here are two crust recipes.  Tomorrow I will put up two delicious pie filling recipes.  I  hope you enjoy them!


Crust #1:  Grain-Free Pie Crust

(From The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, by Marjorie Hurt-Jones, R.N.)

  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup white buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Spectrum Spread (or other non-hydrogenated margarine or butter)
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a food processor, combine the flours, arrowroot or starch, and salt, and process for 15-20 seconds.  Add the spread (or margarine or butter) and pulse a few times until mixture looks like coarse cornmeal.

With the food processor running, pour in 3 tbsp. of the ice water in a thin steady stream.  Add the remaining water slowly, stopping as soon as the dough gathers itself into a ball.

Cut 2 pieces of waxed paper, each about 18" long.  Oil one side of each piece.  Place the dough between the sheets, oiled sides facing the dough.  Pat into a 6" diameter circle.  Roll out to a 12" diameter circle.  Remove the top paper and carefully flip the bottom paper and crust into a 9" pie plate.  Remove the waxed paper.  Adjust crust and smooth edges.

This type of GF crust tears easily, but patches easily too.  Don't try to crimp the edges, just fold the extra dough under, making an edge about 1/2" higher than the pie plate edge.

Bake for 3 minutes.  Add pumpkin pie filling and finish baking as the recipe directs.

If a baked crust is required, prick all over with a fork and bake for 12-13 minutes.  Allow to cool before filling.


Crust #2:  Nut and Seed Crunch Crust

(From The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, by Marjorie Hurt Jones, R.N.)

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup ground nuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl, combine the flour, nuts, seeds, arrowroot, and cinnamon. 

In a small saucepan, combine the water, oil, and honey.  Heat over low heat just until the honey liquefies.  Pour over the flour mixture, and stir with a fork until well combined.

Place in a 9" pie plate.  Press firmly into place with your fingers, spreading to cover the bottom and sides of the pie plate.  Pat top into a straight edge.

Bake for 8 minutes.  Add pumpkin pie filling, and finish baking as the recipe directs.

If a baked crust is required, bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool before filling.

October 28, 2008

The Basics of a Healthy Diet

I talk with every single patient about eating well because a nutritious diet is fundamental to wellness.  I often say that I have a lot of "tools in my doctor bag" for helping folks regain their health.  Vitamins, minerals, herbs, homeopathic remedies, hydrotherapy, exercise and stress management techniques are some of these tools, and they can support the healing process to a great degree.  But good health will not last if you do not nourish your body with good food.  And yet learning how to eat well is often one of the biggest challenges my patients face. 

So what are the basics of a healthy diet?  Here is my Top Ten list:

  1. Eat real food.
    • Avoid artificial colors or flavors – including dyes and sweeteners (Splenda, Nutri-Sweet, Sweet-n-Low). 
    • Avoid hydrogenated fats.
    • Read labels and look for recognizable ingredients.
  2. Eat whole food.
    • Avoid foods made with white flour, white rice and white sugar.
    • Go for whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat.
    • Use honey, maple syrup or agave nectar to lightly sweeten foods and drinks.
    • “Shop around the edge” of the grocery store, that’s where the whole foods are – fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, and meat.
    • Avoid packaged food.
  3. Eat organically as much as possible, especially animal products.
    • Animals concentrate pesticides from their food in their tissues. 
    • Pesticides can be toxic, especially to children.
    • Here is the Environmental Working Group's rating of pesticide levels in 44 different fruits and vegetables.
  4. Eat a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables.
    • Cherries, red bell peppers, tomatoes, apricots, peaches, mangoes, pumpkins, garnet yams, spaghetti squash, bananas, pears, kale, collard greens, broccoli, zucchini, avocadoes, blueberries, grapes, blackberries, plums…and MORE!
    • Eat fruits and vegetables raw, lightly steamed or baked -  not fried or overcooked.  Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other healthful substances which can be degraded by overcooking.
    • Sometimes it isn't possible to buy fresh produce.  Choose frozen instead of canned, to retain more of the health benefits.
    • Eat whole fruit rather than juice.  Whole fruit has all the fiber and nutrition, while juice mostly concentrates the sugars.
  5. Eat breakfast.
    • Include protein for lasting energy – eggs, meat, cottage cheese, nut butter, tofu and beans are all examples of protein foods.
    • Coffee or juice with toast or cereal is NOT adequate.  This type of breakfast is a recipe for "crashing" later in the day.
    • For a quick breakfast, eat leftovers from dinner the night before.
  6. Eat a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein.
    • Don't eat carbohydrates alone.  Add some good fats and/or protein.  Have crackers or toast with nut butter, cheese or meat.  Add some nuts or milk to oatmeal.
    • Snack on nuts and seeds – try mixing dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.) with raw nuts or seeds (walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc).
    • Nuts, coconut, seeds, olives, avocados and fish are all sources of "good fats", but all fat is useful in a balanced diet.
  7. Develop mindful eating.
    • Eat when you are hungry.  Notice if you are eating because you are bored or upset.
    • Chew your food.  Count twenty-seven chews to help you remember.
    • Sit down to eat.
    • Stop eating when you are full.
    • Mindful eating improves digestion and, for parents, sets a healthy example for children.
  8. Drink water.
    • We need, on average, 64 ounces per day - that’s 2 quarts or about 2 liters.  For larger adults or small children, take your weight in pounds and divide it in half.  That is a good estimate of how much water, in ounces, that you need each day.  Add more water if you are breastfeeding, exercising or ill.
    • Sip on water throughout the day.  Keep it with you.  Don’t guzzle it with meals.
    • If you dislike the flavor of water, try herbal (non-caffeinated) tea, or add a bit of lemon juice to your water.
  9. Limit caffeine.
    • Stimulants “draw on the adrenal bank.”  You are using your future energy reserves today, like borrowing on credit.
    • Caffeinated beverages contribute to dehydration as well as symptoms like fatigue, headaches and fibrocystic breasts.
  10.  Limit alcohol.
    • There is evidence that about one glass of wine or one beer per day can provide health benefits like antioxidants (wine) and stress reduction.  The health benefits are outweighed by the health risks with higher consumption, however. 
    • Alcohol, like caffeine, contributes to dehydration.
    • Your body uses vitamins and minerals (especially magnesium) to process alcohol, depleting the amount available for other needs.
    • Immoderate alcohol consumption can contribute to insulin resistance, obesity and violence, just to scratch the surface.

And number eleven should probably be "Cheat sometimes!"  Eating healthfully will help you feel better, and that is motivating in itself, but it also helps to know that eating "unhealthy" foods occasionally won't undo your good work.  Changing the way you eat can be a challenging process, but eventually it will be second nature.  And you will have set the stage for long-term wellness.

September 24, 2008

Gluten-Free in the 21st Century

For those seeking guidance and support in maintaining a gluten-free diet, the web has a lot to offer!  Here is a sampling of websites which cater to the GF lifestyle.  Check them out! Celiac Disease Foundation's website.  "Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) is a highly-regarded national organization recognized throughout the world. CDF strives to promote awareness and build a supportive community for patients, families and health care professionals. CDF is actively involved in advocating for patient concerns and networking with other national and international organizations." "Since 1999, this website, has been a free resource for any parent who needs support implementing a gluten free - casein free diet ( GFCF Diet ). It provides a central location for parents to find other parents who are also using Dietary Therapy. It is the largest free resource of its kind on the Internet, not only providing lists of products to help guide you through the Grocery Stores (ALWAYS READ LABELS!!) but other relevant information which will help every parent learn about Dietary Intervention.

Our website support forum,"GFCF Kids" was founded in December 1998 and now has a membership of over 12,500 families! It is free and easy to join. The principle aim of this list is to provide a discussion forum for parents of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders who are avoiding gluten and casein and other foods or ingredients in their children's diets." : The mission of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America® is to provide support to persons with gluten intolerances, including celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and other gluten sensitivities, in order to live healthy lives. My family is entirely gluten-free now and I am searching to find the quality, organic whole-grain food we have enjoyed. I will be using this blog to have a discussion about all aspects of GF living including school, eating out and how to alter beloved recipes for our new GF life. Enjoy. (Blog by Dr. Jean McFadden Layton, a naturopathic physician in Bellingham, WA.) The Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) facilitates a relationship between individuals with celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerance, and restaurants. The relationship builds a win-win opportunity for restaurants to provide service to people following a gluten-free diet, and to gain increased patronage. Participating restaurants are able to provide gluten-free meals from their regular meals. GFRAP is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

Participating GFRAP restaurants enthusiastically welcome gluten-free diners. On this site you will find links, directions and other valuable information about each participating GFRAP restaurant.

By working together, using consistent guidelines and listing participating restaurants on one website, we are creating a growing network that allows those following a gluten-free diet to socialize and travel with more confidence in dining away from home.  The Magazine for People with Allergies and Food Sensitivities