Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Apple Pie

Apple Pie (makes 1 two crust pie):

1 c. millet flour
1 c. brown rice flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. coconut oil (slightly chilled)
8 T. ice water

Mix the flours and salt together in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, mix in the coconut oil until it resembles a coarse granola. Add the water, 2 T. at a time, stirring with a fork. Dough should be lumpy and still somewhat dry, but able to be shaped into a ball. You may need to use more water; try to use very fresh flour, if it is old it will have lost the natural oils/moisture that will help it hold together). Shape dough into two balls and chill for a few minutes (about 5-10 minutes) in the refrigerator, while you prepare the filling. It is important the dough stay cool, but not too cold or it won't hold together when you roll it out.

Prepare filling, wash, slice, and core about 6-8 apples (depending on size). Add about 1/2 c. brown rice syrup, or more depending on how sweet you like your pie. You can then add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or allspice (depending on what spices you like).

Roll out one ball of dough by placing it between two pieces of plastic wrap. Put the ball down on the plastic wrap and flatten slightly with your hand. Put the other piece of plastic wrap over it, taking care that there aren't any wrinkles (wrinkles in the wrap will cause the GF crust to fall apart). Roll by pounding with the rolling pin and rolling alternatively into about an 10" circle. Gently pull the top layer of plastic wrap off the crust, then gently run your hand under the bottom piece of plastic wrap and flip the crust into the pie dish. Don't worry if some falls apart, just sort of piece it back together - who cares if it's perfect! (: Then prick the bottom crust a little with a fork, add the filling, and roll the top crust in the same manner. Flip it over on top and pinch the edges together. Sprinkle with sugar if you want.

Bake on 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes. Crust will not get too brown, but take it out when the apple mixture is bubbling up and the crust is slightly brown.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rolled Cookies

These are simple, rolled cookies that I made with my preschooler. She had a ball, and I didn't feel guilty letting her eat them - though she can have everything in a "typical" sugar cookie (if the shortening isn't soy). If you're expecting a sweet sugar cookie, they aren't very sweet and they taste mostly like quinoa. But they are the consistency and texture of a regular sugar cookie...the secret ingredient to this gluten-free cookie is "Better than Milk" Rice Milk Powder.

1 c. spectrum vegetable shortening
1/2 c. brown rice syrup
1 t. vanilla
2 t. egg replacer mixed with 2 T rice milk

(1) Combine the above with an electric mixer until combined.

1 c. sorghum flour
1 1/2 c. quinoa flour
1/4 c. better than milk rice powder (vanilla flavor)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar

(2) Add the above and mix with a wooden spoon. Batter will be slightly sticky, but should hold together well. Take about 1/3 of the dough and place on a quinoa-floured surface, pat into the shape of a rough ball and then lightly pat down. Sprinkle more quinoa flour on top and roll it to about 1/2" thickness (use your judgement). Cut with cookie cutters. Gently place on ungreased cookie sheet. Many recipes call for refrigerating the dough, but I found that it's easier and faster to work with the dough when it's soft (I think the vegetable shortening is too stiff when it's cold, not like butter).

(3) Bake on 375 for about 9 minutes, they will slightly brown around the edges...but will mostly stay light.

My daughter wanted "brown" frosting. I mixed with the electric mixer about 1/3 c. shortening with 1 or 1 1/2 c. of powdered sugar, 1 t. of vanilla, and a few T.'s of Coconut Milk...then I added about 1 1/2 T. of carob powder, and mixed well. This makes a very light, smooth, spreadable frosting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Food Allergy Substitutions

Previously, I published this document as a post on my blog:

I've since been adding to it, modifying it also for changes I've sort of voluntarily made in my diet (like the Genotype diet, and eating write for your Genotype/blood type).

Hope you find it helpful! It helps make most recipes in normal cookbooks, and while the substitutes are not perfect and won't taste exactly like the original, in most cases they're good enough for me.

Example if you're a Teacher (blood type A+) and using a cookbook like Martha Stewart (where everything is butter, milk, cream, cheese & wheat)

Butter => Ghee
Cream = > Yogurt, Soy Sour Cream, Coconut Cream, or for a soup just add a little oat flour mixed with allowed "milk"
Milk = > Almond Milk
Chicken Breast or other Ground Meats = > Turkey (Breast or Ground) or Fish
Bacon = > Turkey bacon
Vinegar = > Unbuffered Vitamin C Powder mixed with water, lemon/lime/pineapple juice
Sugar = > Honey
Mustard = > Mustard Powder
Wheat Flour = > Buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, oat flour, rice or teff flour + 1/2 t. xanthan gum, or spelt flour (make your own tortillas)
Pasta = > Buckwheat Soba Noodles, Brown Rice Pasta, Quinoa pasta

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Carob "Milk" Shake

2 frozen bananas
2 T. Vanilla Better Than Milk Rice Powder
2 T. Carob Powder
Rice Milk

Blend until smooth.

Impromptu Indian Cooking Lesson

I was fortunate to get a very special treat last night, an impromptu Indian cooking lesson! Not only did I leave feeling as though I've stolen all the secrets, I was full from a beautifully flavored fish curry.

I learned that I can soak rice, grind it, and make a "pancake" or dosa. Impossible to write about, I think someone has to show you to learn how to do it. I had no idea rice could do this.

I plan to try this recipe myself soon:
Take Poha Thin (like rice paper flakes), mix with a little chopped red onion, fresh grated coconut, sugar, water mixed with salt and a chile. It makes a great snack.

I have to say, the most impressive was how my friend perfectly cracked open a coconut with the back of a butcher knife. There was no way I was going to try that. I sheepishly asked if I could break it with a hammer outside...yes, she said, but it wouldn't be this perfect. The coconut water was great. Then I learned how to use a grinder to grate the coconut out of the shell, it was the best coconut I ever tasted. I am going to have to learn how to do this. I'll report back; if I don't get too frustrated trying to break the coconut open.

The Muffin Recipes

Just like the cookie recipe, I like to have one basic recipe for muffins & pancakes too. This is the basic muffin recipe I use:

2 c. flour (quinoa, oat, barley, buckwheat, teff, brown rice, millet, or a combination thereof)
1 T. baking powder

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease or put in muffin cups in pan. Recipe makes 6 large or 12 small muffins. Combine the flour & baking powder in a large mixing bowl.

1 1/2 t. egg replacer mixed with 2 t. rice/oat/almond/coconut milk
3/4 - 1 c. liquid (rice/oat/almond/coconut milk/juice)...may have to adjust based on flour you use, I start with 3/4 c., mix everything together, and if I need more I just whisk it in
2 T. - 1/4 c. honey/agave nectar/brown rice syrup (based on how sweet you like your muffins)
1/4 c. safflower oil (I generally use safflower, but you could use any kind of oil you prefer)

(2) Mix the above liquid ingredients right in a 4 c. liquid measuring cup with a small wire whisk. Pour into flour and whisk, adding liquid if need be. Batter should be lumpy, but wet...as the batter sits it will start releasing gas and become "puffy". You should try to work as quickly as possible once you mix the wet & dry ingredients and get the muffins in the oven.

(3) Fold in whatever add-ins you want; grated carrot or zucchini, mashed bananas, berries, chopped candied ginger, rasins, dried fruit, etc.

(4) Bake for about 25-30 minutes, some muffins will brown, others won't depending on the flour you use. If you use all gluten-free flours (besides quinoa), you might want to add a t. of xanthan gum to improve texture.

I'm not worried if they don't come out perfect everytime...I like having an easy recipe I can memorize, then make whatever variation I feel like at the time.

I made these quinoa-zucchini muffins today, and everyone loved them (but we like the quinoa-flour taste, you might have to get used to this if you're new to quinoa).

Makes 12 extra large muffins:
3 c. quinoa flour
1 c. millet flour
2 T. baking powder
1 t. nutmeg
3 t. egg replacer mixed with 1/4 c. rice milk
2 c. rice milk
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. safflower oil
2 c. shredded zucchini
1/4 c. chopped candied ginger

Follow the mixing directions above. I baked these on 350 for about 30 min. They didn't brown, but I could tell they were done as they were firm on top, the toothpick came out clean, and they were slightly pulling away from the sides of the muffin tin.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Looking for a good way to use up or store fresh herbs? I made a bunch of pesto today as soon as I got back from our local fruit & vegetable market Russo's.

Here were my pesto ideas:

Basil Pesto: I made two different kinds: one with olive oil, basil, garlic, and pine nuts, and another with olive oil, basil, and salt (no nuts for kids).

Cilantro Pesto: Grapeseed oil, cilantro, garlic, a little lemon juice, salt.

Parsley Pesto: Again, two different kinds: one with olive oil, garlic, parsley and lemon juice for the kids, and one with walnut oil, garlic, parsley, and walnuts for my husband & I.

I froze this pesto in mini glass Ball canning jars with plastic screw tops. I'm planning to use it in the future to toss with fresh steamed vegetables, rub on fish/turkey before baking, toss with hot brown rice or buckwheat pasta and veggies, or spread on a tortilla and top it with artichoke hearts, black olives, and vegetables, lightly toasting it for "pizza."

Seems like you can make pesto out of anything (it doesn't have to be basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic & cheese). Maybe next time I'll have to try watercress and other herbs. I also though that if traditional "condiments" are banned for you (like mustard, ketchup, vinegar, mayo, etc), you might try some pesto on a toasted sandwich?

Monday, September 8, 2008


Well, I guess you could call this a hamburger...or a buffalo burger (is it still a "burger" if it's in a tortilla?)

The picture doesn't exactly do it justice, but in real life, the burger looked as good as it tasted.

I made spelt tortillas (per the "Ultimate Food Allergy Survival Guide"), pan fried some ground bison/buffalo, added ketchup and arugula and it was delicious and easy served with a side of frozen squash & green beans.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

...a brilliant quote attributed to Albert Einstein. I have grown weary of baking and experimenting with different cookie recipes, scouring through endless allergy cookbooks and internet sites for the "perfect" egg/gluten/dairy/sugar-free cookie. I want one - simple - cookie "recipe" that I can use to make any kind of cookie I'm in the mood for. So while I'm still experimenting with variations, here are the "bones" for a pretty good cookie recipe. The cookies aren't always completely "perfect," but our family thinks they're pretty tasty (they're the best cookies their going to get!).

Here's my "simplest" egg/gluten/dairy/sugar - free cookie "suggestion":
1/2 c. vegetable shortening (non-hydrogenated, soy-free..."Spectrum" is good)
1/4 c. molasses
1/4-1/2 c. maple syrup, honey, agave syrup, brown rice syrup (or any combination thereof)
1 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour (quinoa, buckwheat, teff, sorghum, oat, brown rice, rye (or any combination thereof)
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. xanthan gum (if using gluten-free flour)
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 c. additional flour (see above options) or 2 c. old fashioned oats for oatmeal cookies)
2-4 T. coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, water, etc. (just in case your dough needs a softer consistency, depending on the type of flour you use)
raisins, dates, currants, candied ginger pieces, goji berries, coconut, carob or chocolate (dairy-free) chips, chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries/cherries, or any other stir-ins (use your judgement on quantity)

Directions: (1) preheat oven to 350, (2) cream shortening, sweetener, and vanilla w/ electric mixer, (3) stir in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, adding "milk" or water if necessary (dough should be able to be scooped in a spoon and dropped on a cookie sheet, but still retain it's shape), (4) add extra stir-ins noted above, (5) drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased non-stick baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, (6) enjoy!

From my "basic" recipe, I created these Date Cookies:
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. honey
1 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. quinoa flour
1 c. brown rice flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder (aluminum-free)
2-3 T. coconut milk
3-5 fresh dates, sliced, pitted, and chopped in large chunks

Follow the directions listed above. I have noticed these cookies "spread" less than your typical gluten/egg cookie. They bake up somewhat dense, in the same shape that you dropped them in. and tend to be "crumbly" even with the use of xanthan gum. I will try to experiment a little more, and I'm following some "new" experiments of others, but for now these cookies are quick, easy, and do just fine (no one at my house is complaining). However, my kids have never known any different, and I've become so used to these cookies, my definition of the "perfect" cookie does not follow the normal "objective" opinion anymore. See this website, it's very interesting just on the science of baking:

Friday, September 5, 2008

A nice raw fruit & vegetable salad

My husband has found this book helpful: "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" by Elaine Gottschall. I made the "waldorf salad" on p. 97, and it was very good. It was just a raw salad, and here's what I included:

3 apples, cut into chunks (I used my apple peeler/corer to make quick work here)
1 can pineapple chunks (I used canned, in pineapple juice, only the pineapple and reserved the juice)
1/4 c. currants
1/2 green pepper, sliced and cut into chunks
about 4 carrots, shredded in the food processor

I combined these ingredients first, because I knew my kids could eat it, and they loved it - even if I did indulge them and put a little honey on it.

Then, my husband added some chopped walnuts to his. We ate it with salad or for snacks the next day.
The salad pictured was one that I did in a hurry when I needed something for the kids (2 and 3 1/2) to eat in the car.

(1) Shred in the food processor = 1 green pepper, 3 carrots, one apple
(2) Dump in a can of pineapple juice
(3) EAT!

Happy Birthday!

My son, Jacob, recently turned 2. Though I usually have only made sugar-free honey cakes in the past (wheat, dairy, and egg-free for my husband), I decided to do something different this year. I decided to make two cakes: one with milk, butter, eggs, white flour, and sugar, and one with buckwheat (gluten-free), coconut milk, coconut, no eggs, only 1/3 c. sugar, and maple syrup. We were having a birthday party, and some kids couldn't have eggs, others needed gluten-free, all were allergic to nuts, some allergic to dairy. I wanted everyone to feel included and have a good time.

I put a lot of thought into the cakes...what would kids like eat? should I use food coloring? should I use sugar (cane sugar/powdered sugar)? should I use a cake mix? After seeing the price on "natural" food coloring at WF, and deciding that it would be too much work to make mine myself (like out of beets), I decided to just have two white cakes. I figured a little sugar would be fine for the occasion, and the cakes with honey did turn out to be a bit runny/squishy. Dear old grandma always used to use a cake mix, but for fear there would be soy or some other strange ingredient in there, I figured I'd just use a cake recipe from my Better Crocker cookbook.

I was happy that the cakes looked basically the same (except when you cut into them of course, the buckwheat one looked more like chocolate).

Here are the recipes:
Starlight Yellow Cake (from "Betty Crocker's New Cookbook")
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. sugar (I used a minimally processed sugar)
1/2 c. shortening (I used Spectrum)
1 1/4 c. milk
3 1/2 t. baking powder (aluminum free - another reason to not use a mix)
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla (I used alcohol-free from Trader Joe's)
3 large eggs

(1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease & lightly flour bottoms of two round pans.
(2) Beat all ingredients together on low for 30 seconds, then high 3 minutes. Pour into pans.
(3) Bake about 30-35 minutes, cool on wire racks completely before frosting.

Buttercream Frosting:
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. stick butter, softened
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1-2 T. milk

(1) Beat with electric mixer until smooth, adding one T. milk then more if you need to.

Allergy-Free Buckwheat Cake
2 c. buckwheat flour
1 c. sorghum flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. xanthan gum *secret ingredient*

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two round cake pans as follows: cut a piece of wax paper in a circle to fit in the bottom of the pan. Grease the pan with shortening (vegetable, no soy), and place the wax paper down, and grease again over the paper. Mix the above together in a large mixing bowl.

1/2 c. safflower oil
2 c. coconut milk
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. maple syrup
2 t. vanilla

(2) Mix the liquid ingredients together with a wire whisk.
(3) Add the liquid ingredients to dry, whisking until smooth.
(4) Fold in 2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut.
(5) Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean and you see the sides of the cake pulling away from the pan a little. Cool completely.

Coconut Frosting (from "Vegan with a Vengeance"):
1/2 c. vegetable shortening (Spectrum)
1/2 c. coconut milk (maybe a little less)
2 t. vanilla
4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 c. unsweetened coconut

(1) Beat all but the coconut together, adding the milk a little at a time. Fold in the coconut at the end.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pumpkin Seed Butter Cookies

I was going for a gluten-free peanut-butter cookie; but with no nuts. Along the way, I also discovered the *secret* ingredient to gluten-free cooking: xanathan gum. This stuff works great. I added about 1/2 t. to my oatmeal cookies from the Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook (I substituted the spelt flour with buckwheat and brown rice, and added xanathan gum). I suppose the oats still add a small amount of gluten (unless you use gluten-free oats).

Here's my pumpkin seed butter cookie recipe:
1/2 c. agave syrup or honey
1/2 c. better than milk rice powder (original flavor)
3/4 c. pumpkin seed "butter" (for me this is really just ground pumpkin seeds that I put through my juicer. If you use processed pumpkin seed butter that is more "buttery", I'm thinking you could add less shortening *see picture*)
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
2 t. egg replacer mixed with 2 T. Rice Milk

Beat all of the above together with an electric mixer.

3/4 c. buckwheat flour
3/4 c. millet flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. xanathan gum

Mix until combined, note batter will still be "sticky" because of the rice milk powder. Drop in tablespoon fulls on an ungreased, non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. They will just start to brown around the edges a little. They puff up when you bake them, but they sort of deflate when you take them out and they are very soft and chewy. Also, they are very sweet. Remove from the cookie sheet and place on a wire rack about 2 minutes after you take them out of the oven. I think you could use less milk powder and honey to make them less sweet, and I also noticed that there is xanathan gum in the rice milk powder, so maybe it wouldn't be essential in this recipe. I've still got to experiment more.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kid's Tortilla Dinner

My kids loved these tortillas, though they probably aren't "allergy-free" there's a million ways you can make them:

Corn Tortillas - I made my own with corn masa flour, salt & water in my tortilla maker
Mashed black beans - that I soaked the night before and cooked in the slow-cooker in the morning
Arugula (yes the kids ate this since I sneaked it in the tortilla
Pitted, sliced Kalamata olives
Sour Cream (but you could use soy sour cream if you have a milk allergy)
shredded carrot
thin-sliced green pepper

I love my tortilla maker. I found it on craigslist for $35 (it's a Villaware). Though of course they aren't as good as tortillas rolled by hand and cooked in a cast-iron skillet, it only takes a few minutes to make a batch of tortillas - quinoa and corn masa are my favorite, but you can also make buckwheat, rice, and many other kinds. If you cook them a little longer, they become crunchy crackers. You just have to learn a few tricks - we found you have to lower the top and push down with the handle only once, and quickly, then leave it alone (don't push down more after the first time, or they will "blow up").

Turnip Fries

I guess you could say that my kids aren't thrilled with the spicy taste of purple-top turnips. But I'm determined to get them to eat lots of different types of fruits and vegetables. So, my lastest creation is turnip fries. I just peeled and cut the turnips into long "fry" shapes, tossed with some safflower oil, salt, oregano, and pepper, and baked them on 425 degrees for about 25 minutes. I spread them on parchment and baked on the lowest oven rack, turning once. I guess they didn't get quite as crispy and browned as potatoes, but you can see my 2-year old still ate them with ketchup (I made an exception to the "no-sugar" rule for turnips).

Crepes w/ "no-nut-ella"

My kids slept in late today (8 a.m.), so I did too. Maybe it was finally "sleeping-in" for the first time in years or a lazy summer Saturday, but somehow I was in the mood for crepes. I made the "regular" ones - with white flour, butter, milk & eggs, but started to feel a twinge of guilt when I saw my husband looking woefully into his bowl of almond milk & Joe's O's. So I thought I'd try to make some he could eat.

Here's my adapted recipe. He says they turned out great. They do, however, contain egg yolks (I haven't experimented with egg replacer in them, but I assume they wouldn't be as bendable and crepe-like). Though sensitive to eggs, most of the proteins are found in the whites, so he has been able to eat the yolks. This is similar to ghee, where most of the dairy proteins have been stripped from the butter and the leftover ghee is mostly fat. I could have used melted ghee in place of the safflower oil below.

Allergy Crepes (makes enough for 1 or possibly 2 servings):
3/4 c. oat flour
2 t. sugar (I used pure cane, minimally processed)
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1 c. coconut milk
1 T. safflower oil
2 egg yolks
1/4 t. vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients and mix the wet ingredients separately, then mix them together with a whisk until smooth. Pour 1/4 c. batter onto a hot crepe pan (I just continued after I made my regular crepes, so it was hot and was very seasoned since I was cooking with butter. If you are starting from scratch, try heating some high-heat safflower or sunflower oil on about medium-high until hot...do the water test). Instead of swirling the batter around in the pan, I just let my crepes be a little thicker. You can experiment and see what you like best.

"No - nut - ella" spread:
I love nutella. But it has both hazelnuts (bad for kids with nut allergies) and dry milk in it. Here's my version.

1/4 c. pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 T. cocoa powder (or carob)
2 T. Better Than Milk Rice Powder, vanilla flavor
1 T. safflower oil
1 T. brown rice syrup
3 T. rice milk

Combine all ingredients in a food processor on high speed (this is the "crunchy" version). If you wanted it smoother, grind your pumpkin seeds into "butter" with a juicer.

Spread on crepes and enjoy. Or use fruit-only jam and fresh fruit - I had a blueberry jam & fresh pineapple crepe, a banana & no-nut-ella crepe, and an apricot-orange jam & fresh cantaloupe crepe.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"I Eat The Colors Of The Rainbow"

My kids love the Swingset Mama's "Colors of the Rainbow" song. So here's a colorful 15 minute lunch/dinner idea:

(1) Wash, peel, cube a sweet potato. Throw into a medium saucepan with water about 1/2 way covering the potato. For me, it took 2 minutes to bring it to a boil, then I simmered for 6 minutes on med-low.
(2) Meanwhile, shape 1 lb. ground meat (I used buffalo) into patties and place in a skillet on med-high heat. Season w/ salt & pepper if desired. Fry for about 10-12 minutes (time will depend on the type of meat you use and the size of your patties.
(3) Wash a broccoli head. Break off in the pot over the sweet potato after step #1 is complete. Cook/steam about 4-5 more minutes.
(4) Serve with butter/ghee/maple syrup on the sweet potatoes, ketchup or crushed tomatoes (I sometimes use spaghetti sauce...the kids don't know the difference and it normally doesn't have sugar/vinegar).
(5) Serve with a tortilla, slice of bread, or crackers to get a grain in.


Use any ground meat - turkey, buffalo, beef, chicken, lamb
OR use mashed beans (when you fry them, use canola or safflower oil)

Use any starchy root vegetable in place of the sweet potato - carrots, white potato, turnips, acorn or butternut squash, parsnips

Use any green vegetable in place of the broccoli (you may have to adjust your "steaming" time) - spinach, green beans, peas, lima beans, asparagus.

Now you can play the song while your kids eat their veggies (:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"The buckwheat cake was in her mouth, the tear was in her eye,"

"Oh Susanna"... a great kids song. I would love to revive buckwheat! Very tasty, it is also gluten-free. A bit crumbly for baked goods, but who cares! The goal in allergy-free cooking is not always to make a stunning, moist, spongy cake, it's to make something that remotely tastes yummy and homemade and that isn't going to make you or your kids sick.

So, I'm working on a buckwheat cake for my son's birthday, and yes - I'm going to allow some pure cane sugar in it.

For the cake (adapted from "Vegan with a Vengeance")
1 c. buckwheat flour
1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. safflower oil
1 c. coconut milk
1/3 c. sugar (use as unrefined as possible)
1/3 c. maple sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

I baked this on 350 for a little over 30 minutes, in one round cake pan. I will be doubling the recipe for the birthday cake and adding frosting. The trick to make it not stick in the cake pan is to cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom, and grease the pan, then put in the wax paper, and grease again.

First sift together dry ingredients, then combine wet ingredients and mix into the dry. Add the coconut last.

Instead of frosting, I topped my trial version with strawberries. The buckwheat almost looked like a chocolate cake!

Ginger Cookies

I usually try to bring my own treat for the after-mass gathering at our church. They usually have "munchkins" from Dunkin Donuts (not exactly allergy-free, or healthy). I can generally keep my kids away from the "munchkins" with a home-baked bake good. While not everyone shares my enthusiasm for eliminating refined sugar, I think overall people appreciate the thought. It's fun to see what people think of my somewhat "wierd" creations.

Ginger/Apricot Cookies
1 c. rye flour
1 c. oat flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. cloves
(you could add cinnamon too, but my kids are allergic)

Stir dry ingredients together.

1/2 c. canola oil
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. coconut milk
1/4 c. honey
1 t. vanilla

Mix together wet ingredients and add to dry. Then add about 2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats and chopped dried apricots (or whatever dried fruit you want).

Drop in teaspoons on a baking sheet, bake at 350 for 10 minutes. They aren't really sweet, but very "spicy."

Plum Pie

I was lucky to find a whole basket of ripe, black plums on sale at our local fruit/vegetable market (Russo's in Watertown). On a whim, I decided to try a plum pie. With the help of my 3 1/2 year old, we created this.

2 c. quinoa flour
3/4 t. salt
2/3 c. safflower oil
1/3 c. coconut milk

Mix the flour and salt together. Then add the oil & milk and mix with a fork. Pat dough together into one ball, roll dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. Then comes the tricky part that didn't exactly work for us....we were supposed to roll the dough to a 14" pie, then place in a 8-9" pie plate, add the fruit filling, and fold up the edges of the dough. Well, it didn't exactly work. The quinoa doesn't really hold together well, so we wound up picking up the pieces of dough that fell and just putting them on top. If I do it again, I'll try making a chilled version of a pie crust, maybe with a different flour. I guess you can't complain if it's gluten-free.

Fruit Filling:
2 1/2 lbs. of plums, washed, pitted, and sliced (I didn't peel mine)
1/3 c. sorghum flour
1/4 c. honey
1/4 t. nutmeg
juice of 1/2 a lemon

I baked mine on 400 degrees for 30 minutes, but I think this is a little too hot for quinoa. If I bake a pie again with quinoa, I'll do it on 350 for about 30 minutes, and maybe then the fruit filling will get a little more cooked/bubbly without the crust browning. I don't like my desserts super-sweet, but if your plums are still a little tart, just add more honey on top.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

It's not really a "summer" soup, but it sounded so good I had to try it. I love Isa Moskowitz's special secret butternut squash tip...I'll let you read the book (Vegan with a Vengeance). I have some special squash tips myself - I've always just cut up the squash and roasted, boiled or steamed squash with the skin on. I just scoop the cooked squash out of the skin, wearing rubber gloves if it's hot, before I eat the squash. Some people I know eat squash, skin and all. And, the seeds are good roasted and salted too. If the squash is difficult to cut in half, I poke a couple holes in it, pop it in the micro for a couple minutes until soft, and cut it in half (watch for hot spots).

Anyway, the soup turned out wonderful, even without the spicy chile. The roasted butternut squash is added to a puree of fresh ginger, garlic, and onions (one of my favorite kinds of soup). My toddler has added "soup" to his list of first words after this soup!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beet & Carrot Slaw

A great recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, "Great Food Fast" cookbook. A great way to eat fresh, fast food (raw). Just be prepared for beet stains...

Thick, Rich, Chocolate Sauce - Two Ingredient & No Cook!

I'm not kidding - two ingredients and you don't have to cook! No need to make a buttery, creamy hot fudge sauce! Just take some brown rice syrup & blend in cocoa powder to taste. I heated mine in the micro for about 10 seconds, just to make it a little smoother. Then I drizzled it over a big bowl of ice cream...or Rice Dream if you can't have dairy. If you're concerned about cocoa and caffeine, try blending in a little Carob powder.

I just love Brown Rice Syrup, you can bake with it or use it in place of honey (especially good in granola - see a previous post).

My husband's new favorite summer treat is Rice Dream with Carob & Almonds, topped with raspberries.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Sauteed Vegetable Combinations

My husband and I have been loading up on our "superfoods" from the Genotype Diet. Between moving and having two preschool/toddlers around, our lives have been pretty stressful the last few years. I do think the Genotype Diet is helping to regain some balance/stability in our lives; even though sometimes I feel somewhat "superstitious." Psychologically, if I'm eating a "superfood" on my list, I automatically feel better!

We've come up with some new combinations on our "superfoods" list.

My husband's (Teacher) favorite is "Lentils & Leeks" and mine (Gatherer) is "Cannelloni Beans & Spinach."

"Lentils & Leeks"
(1) Simmer lentils for about 30 min. (follow the directions on the package, or buy canned)
(2) Slice leeks and wash well. Saute on med-high in ghee or olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add some oregano and sea salt, then add the lentils and cook until heated through.

"Cannelloni Beans & Spinach"
(1) Rinse beans in three cold-water baths, then soak overnight. I also rinse three times again after soaking, then put in the crockpot with water to cover + about 2 inches. I cook mine on setting #4 for about 4 hours, until desired tenderness.
(2) Saute chopped onions & garlic on med-high in olive oil or ghee for about 5 minutes. Add some spices; like sea salt & basil, and cook for a couple more minutes. Add chopped, washed, spinach and saute until wilted, then add cooked beans and heat through.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Move is over! Cabbage housewarming...

I haven't been posting lately, as we've been moving. We finally decided to buy a condo in Cambridge - and with three Whole Foods Markets and a Trader Joe's - I'm always close to the groceries I need. I love my new kitchen. It's small, but brand new and very functional. I used the Mrs. Meyer's Stainless Steel cleaner on my new appliances and it worked very well (even on kid handprints). It took a while to burn off the "new oven smell" but I love my new gas range, and as an added bonus now, all four burners work.

Some friends came over to see the new house, and they brought me an extra head of cabbage from their CSA. For me, it was the perfect housewarming gift (:

So I'm going to start my blog going again, with a couple of my favorite cabbage recipes:

Coleslaw (from the Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook by Cybele Pascal)
1 package of shredded coleslaw mix (or, I shred my own in my Cuisinart food processor, even though Cuisinart doesn't recommend it, it still works good enough)
1/2 c. shredded carrot
1 chopped apple
1/2 c. raisins
1 T. rice milk
3 T. white vinegar
2 T. orange juice
1 t. honey
1 T. lemon juice
6 T. olive oil

Make a salad dressing out of the last liquid ingredients and pour over the shredded/chopped vegetables. It's best if you let it sit a while in the refrigerator.

Braised Cabbage (From Martha Stewart Living, March 2005)
2 cans chicken broth (or you can use vegetable broth)
1 t. coarse salt
10 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 small cabbage, cut into wedges
1 small leek, sliced

Bring broth and spices to a boil, add cabbage and leek and reduce heat - simmer for about 12-15 minutes until tender.

You can always just steam cabbage in a pan or stir fry it too, both of those options are good!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"The GenoType Diet" part 2

Thank-you so much for all the comments posted from other fellow GenoType Diet followers! They are very helpful for us newcomers. Well, the results we've been waiting for are in...my husband is NOT a Hunter, he is a Teacher! We will see how this change goes this week. And I'm NOT an Explorer, I'm a Gatherer! We had some slight mis-calculations, though secretly I think I might be a little bit Explorer and a little bit Gatherer.

Anyhow, I needed to get my grocery list done and my first question was, "What was I going to buy so that we all can eat according to our types?" There was no way I'd be cooking three separate meals for four people. First, I went through the Teacher/Gatherer diets and made a list of what we had in common. Then, I had to account for the foods that everyone is "allergic" to (we still can't really introduce those yet).

Ironically, many of the foods that my husband is "allergic" to are on the toxins/limit/avoid list (like tomatoes, beef, chicken, cow's milk, butter, wheat, rye, celery). I thought one passage from the Teacher explanation was particularly interesting, especially for those that have food sensitivities..."When their diets are excessively meat-based, they gradually develop a buildup of bacteria in the digestive tract, which can act as a powerful block on their metabolism and immune system. The result is a range of stomach and intestinal problems, including gastritis, which causes extreme discomfort in the upper abdomen, nausea..." (page 144, The GenoType Diet by Dr. Peter J.D'Adamo).

So I found out all the "superfoods" we had in common first, and centered my meal planning around that. Then I got a few more "superfoods" from each of the Teacher and Gatherer lists (like fruits and snacks). I'm assuming our kids will be some combination of Teacher & Gatherer...does anyone know about this?

I'm only going to use a few "recipes" this week; and just make everything either plain baked (fish) or steamed/stir fried (vegetables). No elaborate concoctions. It's too difficult to find a "recipe" for something with several ingredients that are "superfoods" on both lists.

I'll let you all know how everything works out this week. Thanks again for your comments/support.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"The GenoType Diet"

Our pediatrician was reading "The GenoType Diet" by Dr. Peter J.D'Adamo when we took our kids in for a check-up. She mentioned how fascinating the book was, which sparked our interest because we are always looking for some new experiment...will this diet help me feel better? Help me be more alert at my job? Give me more strength/stamina to run after two young kids all day? Cure my food allergies?!

While I can't say it has been the miracle cure we're always searching for, it has been an interesting book and has led to some fun experiments (including Roast Duck). We also had fun learning how to eat artichokes. I just steamed them and served them with melted butter (for my 3 1/2 year old) and pine nut sauce (pine nuts, olive oil, water, vitamin C powder) for my husband and I.

My husband and I enjoyed doing all the little "tests" to discover our genotype categories - measuring our torsos and legs, our index fingers and ring fingers, determining our head shapes and body types. I think I might be either an Explorer or maybe a Gatherer; my husband thinks he's a Hunter (though he doesn't know his blood-type yet).

The nice thing is that several of the recommended foods for all genotypes are "non-typical" foods in the "Standard American Diet." The extensive (and expensive!) list offers quite a few foods my husband is not allergic or sensitive to. For example: buffalo, goat, lamb, duck, and several different seafoods. Also included are several "whole-foods" sweeteners like agave syrup and molasses (Hunter) and rice syrup and honey (Explorer).

I did try cod and lamb, two things I never really liked before. I enjoyed trying something new and it was fun to try some new recipes (an Indian pilau for the lamb), but I can't say I've been radically won over on them. While I'm proud of myself for trying something new, I realized it is really very difficult to change. I think the important thing was that I tried something new, and I'll be willing to try different foods again...gradually. Changes take time and I can't expect myself to instantly fall in love with something I've never liked - simply because I read a new book about it.

"Chocolate" Oatmeal Cookies

It has been almost two months since I've posted. During that time we've read two new diet books, started the process of buying a new condo and preparing to move, and traveled back to Michigan to say a final goodbye to the best cook I'll ever meet...my grandmother.

I'll write about the other topics later, but here is a great new recipe for a whole-foods cookie:

"Chocolate" Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 c. vegetable shortening (Spectrum)
1/4 c. brown rice syrup
1/2 c. honey
1 t. vanilla
1 c. buckwheat flour
1/4 c. carob powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening, brown rice syrup, honey and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined into the shortening mixture (will take a little elbow-grease, add a little more brown rice syrup or honey if the dough seems too dry). Drop by heaping teaspoons onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheet after about 2 minutes, being careful because they are more fragile than other cookies; cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Easter - the "sneaky" bunny brought a few treats ;)

Last Easter was a food-allergy disaster. The youngest obviously did not have candy, but my then-two-year-old daughter had both mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a chocolate bunny, and her cheeks broke out in a horrible rash. Her mood totally changed and I was determined to not repeat the same mistake as last year.

However, I also worry about being too cautious and vigilant about sugar, so I decided that if they were going to have sugar and chocolate, it would be as un-processed as possible with a little bit of nutritional value.

I used the same "baskets" they had last year with the little plastic eggs, and shredded colored construction paper in our paper shredder. I put little ziplock snack bags full of dried cranberries, papaya, pineapple, and raisins from the Whole Foods Bulk Food section in the little plastic eggs. Then I stayed up late and baked some Easter Sugar Cookies and Chocolate Biscotti (at the request of my husband). The kids liked the dried fruit and sugar cookies...we let them decorate the sugar cookies with coconut frosting (no dairy) Easter afternoon. The kids didn't like the Chocolate Biscotti, but my husband did!

Easter Sugar Cookies (adapted from "Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook"):
2/3 c. shortening (Spectrum palm-vegetable only)
3/4 c. sugar (I used natural cane sugar, a less-refined, less-sweet version from Whole Foods called "Florida Crystals")
1 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 T. rice milk
1 t. vanilla
1 c. quinoa flour
1 c. oat flour

Beat shortening & sugar with an electric mixer until well-mixed, then beat in egg replacer and vanilla. Then I mixed in the baking powder and flour with a wooden spoon. I shaped the dough into a ball and chilled for about 30 min. Then I rolled it out, using more flour if necessary, cut out my egg and bunny shapes, and baked at 375 degress for about 7 minutes (watch carefully, how long you bake will depend on how thick your cookies are). I tried to make mine at least 1/4 in thick, because any thinner they'll be too crispy or fall apart.

I love the coconut frosting from "Vegan with a Vengeance." It uses shortening, coconut milk, powdered sugar, and shredded coconut. Yes, we used food coloring - though I know this isn't always considered "safe" - it was a fun special treat.

Creamy Jicama Slaw - Raw Food Craze

I'm just starting to get into the new raw food craze. After spending all winter baking, roasting, and broiling, I'm ready to give the oven a rest. It has not only been heating up our kitchen - but also our gas bill.

As a family with a preschooler and a toddler, it's not really feasible for us to go totally raw. Undoubtedly, there are some things that will need to be cooked...but I'm trying to take small steps to introducing more fresh, living foods. For example, I have tried just lightly steaming broccoli. My daughter was really excited about the mini "snack carrots" she calls them, and the kids all love fresh fruit. "Swiss-style" oats, soaked overnight in water or rice milk (or milk if you can have it), are also a great alternative to cooked oats.

For the raw foods lifestyle, it is essential to have a good food processor (I was lucky to receive the Cuisinart dual food processor/blender for a Christmas gift!) It will slice, shred, chop and puree most vegetables, and though I have broken my plastic bowl and top twice, Cuisinart has replacement parts available at a very reasonable price.

There are great shredded vegetable salad recipes in "The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide." My new favorite is "Creamy Jicama Slaw," basically shredded jicama with what they call "Super Smooth Sauce." The recipe in the book has the sauce made with macadamia nuts (I used the nuts and made nut butter in my juicer), however, I tried a tahini sauce for my kids and they liked it.

Tahini Sauce to dip or mix with shredded vegetables:
1 T. Tahini (I used a super-creamy brand that I found at Russo's in Watertown)
1 T. Water
1/2 t. unbuffered Vitamin C powder (tart-tasting)...I used a brand from Cambridge Naturals
1 T. Oil (I used extra-virgin olive)

Whisk together until smooth with a fork. Pour over fresh shredded jicama, cucumber, cabbage, carrots, or zucchini. This is also a good substitute for mayo (egg allergies).

Also a particular favorite of ours is the Carrot-Olive Salad containing shredded carrots, sliced black olives, and olive oil. My kids also love the coleslaw recipe from "The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook," which uses fresh apples and raisins, and a sauce made from olive oil, rice milk, vinegar, lemon and orange juice instead of mayo. We have also found that Vitamin C Powder is a great substitute for vinegar or lemon juice in salad dressings - my husband claims it's not as rough on his stomach as the more acidic vinegar.

Spring is here! More raw food posts to come this spring/summer...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gingerbread Cookies

I know it's way past Christmas, but winter is not over here in New England. My daughter really wanted to make gingerbreads, and we had not make them yet this year. I had to think about what I would do for a recipe - I knew I wanted no dairy, refined sugar, or wheat - so that we could eat them together as a family and they would be semi-healthy. I used the oatmeal cookie recipe as a guide in the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook," which is excellent by the way and you will have to get the book or borrow it from the library to try it. However, here is my version for gingerbread cookies.

1/2 c. vegetable shortening (make sure it doesn't have soy...try Spectrum's brand)
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla

Cream the above 4 ingredients with an electric mixer.

1/2 c. rye flour
1/2 c. buckwheat flour
1 c. oat flour
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder

Stir into creamed mixture. I used a little of the dough at a time to roll out on a generously floured (I used oat) surface, then cut out my little gingerbread people. We decorated the cookies with raisins and unsweetened coconut. Bake about 7-8 minutes on 350 degrees.

Drinking Healthy - Fresh Juice

Ever since I found a great fresh fruit and vegetable market (A. Russo's, Watertown, MA), I am starting to get back into making my own fresh juice. I would love to have a large kitchen so I could keep my juicer out all the time, but it's probably just as well to get everything out and have a special treat once in a while (even natural fruit and vegetable juice has a high amount of sugar, with no fiber). My favorite juice is Beet - Apple - Carrot. By the way, my 3 year-old and 18-month old love it! We water it down a little though, about 1/2 juice and 1/2 water.

I have the Omega juicer, which I've used for fruit/vegetable juice and for grinding nut or seed -butters (such as almond, sunflower seed and pumpkin seed butter). It has worked well, it's fairly easy to clean, and powerful. However, you have to cut the fruit/vegetables into slices that will go into the machine, so this sometimes takes a few extra minutes.

Juice is a great way to transition to eliminating soft drinks and diet coke/pepsi (which in addition to being a health risk will ironically just cause you to gain weight). If you don't have time to make your own juice and must buy commercial juice, make sure it is 100% Juice. Try mixing a little Sparkling water, like San Pellegrino, in with the juice.

Some people drink soft drinks just to be drinking something. Try getting a water bottle (preferably a hard plastic), and fill up on fresh, filtered water all day. I've read even drinking bottled water is sometimes not so good, because the water is bottled in soft plastic containers that may leak chemicals into the water if exposed to extreme temperatures.

If you are just drinking diet coke for the caffeine or refreshing pick-up, I think it would be better to drink some unsweetened iced green tea mixed with sparkling water. At least it's all natural - and real! Plus, green tea does have some nutritional value and health benefits. Octavia tea is very good.

I used to buy apple juice for my kids and water it down, but now I don't even buy apple juice. They are used to drinking water all day, and I make sure their water bottles are full. It's great to get them in the habit early of drinking lots of water. I can't believe how much I'm saving on my grocery bill by drinking healthy - no juice, beer or wine, coffee, soda - so I can afford to buy treats such as tea, Teeccino, or sparkling water once in a while.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How to kick the coffee habit

I talked to my brother recently - who I always knew to pull all-night study sessions with a cup of strong black coffee - and he was saying he has a hard time sleeping if he drinks any caffeine after 4 p.m. I think most of us have run into this situation at some time or another. I have always loved coffee, but it was among the many things I chose to renounce during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I tried going decaf, but was concerned with the decaffeinating process - I realize the "Swiss Water" method is probably ok, but the thought of formaldehyde possibly entering my body scared me. I now drink herbal tea, but for a while I was really stuck on coffee. My husband and I were craving coffee about a year ago, and he went to Whole Foods to see what he could find. My husband asked an employee for suggestions, who saw my husband holding Teeccino in his hand and exclaimed, "Oh, you wanted ersatz coffee!" Since then, we enjoy an occasional cup of Teeccino for a special caffeine-free coffee treat.

Apple Crisp

I modified the "pear crumble" recipe from the Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook into apple crisp. Plus, I don't like it as sweet. I was all out of the old fashioned rolled oats, so I had so use some instant I had on hand, but I recommend using the old fashioned rolled oats if you have them.

6-7 large apples (we used Gala)
1/4 c. golden raisins
1/4 c. honey (I don't even measure, I just sprinkle on top)
1/2 c. millet flour
1/2 c. oat flour
1 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. maple sugar
3/4 c. chilled vegetable shortening.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Core, peel, and slice apples and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle raisins and honey over apples. Combine flours, oats and sugar in a medium bowl, use a pastry blender to cut in the shortening. Sprinkle this mixture over top of the apples, raisins and honey and bake for about 40 minutes.

Dairy-Free Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

One of my favorite dishes growing up was scalloped potatoes and ham. My mom used to make a heaping roaster full that would last us for days. Here, I didn't really measure much when I made this dish, so use the measurements as a guideline.

6-8 medium baking potatoes, washed, peeled, and sliced
about 1-2 cups cubed or chopped cooked ham (nitrate-free)
3 T. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 T. oat flour, or allowed flour
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 1/2 c. rice milk (or allowed milk)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease casserole dish with shortening. Add ham and potatoes to dish.
Cook onion in olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until tender. Add flour, salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute more then add milk. Stir constantly until boiling, continue stirring and boil for 1 minute, until thickened. Pour sauce over
ham and potatoes.
Bake covered about 30 minutes, then uncover and bake about 1 hour more. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

Orange Biscotti

This is an adaptation of an old Betty Crocker recipe. Biscotti has always been one of my favorites with tea, and here is an allergy-free version: no dairy, wheat, or eggs. It can be gluten-free depending on what flours you use. The biscotti does, however, have refined sugar (I couldn't bring myself to substitute everything). You could try maple sugar or date sugar if you needed to avoid refined sugar.

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable shortening or non-hydrogenated margarine (if you are allergic to soy, make sure it's soy-free)
1 T. grated orange zest
1 t. vanilla
2/3 c. water mixed with a scant 2 T. brown flaxseeds
Note: Heat in a small saucepan over med-high heat until boiling, only boil about 1 min until a slightly thickened gel forms - don't make it too thick or you won't be able to strain the seeds out. Strain the whole seeds out and cool the liquid gel. Use the gel in place of the two eggs.
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose (if you can have it) or any combination of flours (I used 1 c. brown rice, 2 c. oat, and 1/2 c. sorghum/milo)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make flaxseed gel to use in place of egg and place in an ice bath to cool if using immediately. Beat sugar, shortening or margarine, orange zest, vanilla and flaxseed gel in a large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt. Note: I had a hard time mixing it together, but just use a wooden spoon or your hands, adding a little water if necessary, to form a soft dough. Split dough in half and shape each half into a 10X3 " rectangle and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes, cool for 15 minutes. Cut crosswise into 1" thick slices (the original instructions say 1/2" slices, but I did 1" with a sharp, wet knife. Using different flours, especially gluten-free like brown rice, tend to be a bit crumbly.) Bake about 10 minutes longer. You want them to be crisp, slightly brown but not too dark. From the initial cutting, I thought they would turn out too crumbly, but after the second baking they held together well.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Meal/Menu Planning

A new feature I've been using for all sorts of things is google documents. It particularly helps me with the arduous task of weekly menu planning. Menu planning is a must in our household, since we can't just drop everything and go eat out anytime we feel like it (allergies, kids, money, etc.). Even though I spend 1-2 hours every Saturday on menu planning, I have to believe it also saves time and money. It helps me use up what I have on hand and plan for the groceries I need. I never have to stop and think, "what will we have for dinner tonight?" My husband can also access the spreadsheet from work if he's curious.

While I don't plan everything - and sometimes I plan too much - at least I have a road map for the week, knowing that it can change spontaneously.

Here's my approach to menu planning:
(1) Make a list of what you have in the refrigerator/freezer/pantry you want to use up.
(2) Pick out 1-2 new recipes you want to try during the week.
(3) Make a list of the foods your family eats/can eat on a regular basis - dividing into vegetables (we do "starchy and non-starchy" from the Schwarzbein Principle), fruits, meats, and grains.
(4) Try to rotate the meals you eat on about a three-four day basis if possible (we have not been following a strict rotation diet, but I think it's still a good idea).
(5) Fill out a spreadsheet for the week (alternatively, I make one spreadsheet and list several options for a given meal, using the basic meal plan for several weeks. This also allows you to also make an impulse decision with some basic suggestions (i.e. quinoa pancakes or quinoa flakes?). You also don't have to start from scratch every week.
(6) Make your grocery list.
(7) Go shopping.

This is what one of our weekly meal plans looks like.

An Excellent Whole Foods Cookbook

My mom sent me an excellent whole-foods cookbook with lots of everyday, easy-to-prep recipes. While not allergy free and it does include refined sugar, I am able to use my list of substitutions and make most recipes in this book. The cookbook is from the "everyday food" magazine related to Martha Stewart Living and is called "Great Food Fast: 250 recipes for easy, delicious meals all year long". They are all wonderful "whole-foods" recipes (you will never see the ingredient 1 can cream of mushroom soup!)

So far I've made the Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce, Carrot Soup, Lentil Soup, Crispy Apricot Pork Chops and Salmon Steaks with Hoisin Glaze. The enchiladas were great because they were made with corn tortillas (I made my own out of yellow corn masa flour) and canned pumpkin puree instead of wheat and tomatoes. The recipe called for chicken, but we had shredded roast port tenderloin since my husband is allergic to chicken, and white sharp cheddar cheese (which I substituted soy cheese for my husband and regular cheese for my daughter).

The carrot soup was very creamy and sweet (no sugar, only the sweetness of the carrots and mild curry) - my kids could not eat enough. I substituted my vegetable broth for the chicken broth. I made the crispy apricot pork chops, not with breadcrumbs, but with Ryvita rye crackers and they also turned out well. Since I don't like fish, I used the hoisin glaze on my chicken and just left my daughter's chicken without the sauce. Instead of buying a packaged hoisin sauce, it was just as easy to find a recipe online - but it included soy and peanut butter.

If you're stuck on meal planning and need some new ideas to make whole-foods fast, try this book. A nice feature is that it is arranged by season!

Thai Mango Sticky Rice w/ Purple Potato

Having allergies makes you branch out to different cultures/styles of cooking to find foods you can eat. This was my first time making sweet, "sticky" rice. Also, it was my first time cooking "purple potatoes." I had them in sweet rice once in a Thai restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI and I finally found them at A. Russo's in Watertown, MA. I followed the directions on the package of sweet rice for steaming the rice in cheesecloth, and I also made some in the rice cooker. I thought the steamed rice turned out better; it was soft but still intact...whereas the rice in the rice cooker came out almost like a pudding. Maybe I used too much water. Anyway, if I made it again I would steam the rice.

Here are the directions:
Soak 1 cup of sweet rice in in water overnight. Drain. Spread sweet rice in thin, even layer in steam rack lined with cheesecloth. Steam covered, over rapidly boiling water 25 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt, steam 20-25 minutes more.

In a saucepan, warm 1/2 can coconut milk, 2-3 T. maple syrup, pinch of salt, and 1/2 t. vanilla. Add 1 t. arrowroot powder dissolved in 2 T. of water. As it thickens, turned heat to low and cook about 3 minutes.

I baked the potatoes and chopped them into cubes. Put cooked rice, potatoes, and cut-up mango in a bowl. Ladle hot coconut milk sauce over and enjoy! If you want the potatoes sweeter, maybe soak them in the coconut sauce longer. I've also seen this made with black-eye peas. I love that vegetables/beans are included even in dessert!

Monday, January 21, 2008

How can I get my kids to eat vegetables?

"Mommy, more carrots and some of that new special sauce please." These were the glorious words uttered out of the mouth of my 3-year old at dinner tonight. And all it took was a little homemade cucumber-ranch dressing from an old Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Lately I've been really into dips, recalling a Pampered Chef party I once went to where another mother quoted her daughter saying "no Mommy, I dip". Kids seem to have a fascination with brightly colored or milky white sauces and cute little dipping bowls.

So, here are my dip ideas...you can use whatever you like from crackers to carrots (or whatever you're trying to get your kids to eat) as the "dippers". I've included the dairy dips too in case your child can tolerate dairy...my daughter can have dairy and eggs, but tried some commercial ranch dressing when we painfully realized it had soy in it.

(1) Guacamole - there are recipes out there that are as simple as mashed avocados and lime juice to the full-fledged spicy version
(2) Hummus - a chickpea and garlic spread
(3) Roasted vegetable spread - eggplant or red pepper
(4) Pesto - any herb pureed with olive oil, cheese and nuts optional
(5) Salad dressings - we are partial to the carrot-ginger dressing in "The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook" by Cybele Pascal, and also Martha Stewart vinaigrettes
(6) Cybele Pascal has an allergy-free recipe for "avocado mayonnaise" similar I think to guacamole
(7) Plain sesame tahini, mixed with a little water or rice milk to make it into a dip

The dairy ones:
(1) homemade ranch
(2) yogurt dips
(3) spinach dips
(4) cheese dips

Quick Easy Breakfast Ideas

Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, time is short around our house too. I still try to fit in time to make allergy-free pancakes or a balanced breakfast meal (we try to make it the most important meal of the day). Here are some suggestions to make breakfast easier:

Try to make breakfast the night before:
-mix up a gluten-free pancake or muffin mix, combining all the dry ingredients and putting them in a plastic bag. Then you just have to add the wet ingredients. Get a large 2 burner griddle so you can cook a lot at once.
-make swiss oats (oats soaked overnight with rice milk or regular milk/water, honey if you want), then add dried fruit/nuts/sunflower or pumpkin seeds in the a.m. Bob's Red Mill makes a new GF rolled oats
-how about granola made the night before?
-Muesli made the night before (make your own with GF rolled oats, dried fruit, sunflower or pumpkin seeds)
-A fresh vegetable "salad" like fresh chopped zucchini, summer squash, and chickpeas with a little flax seed oil and lemon juice is also a good option to make ahead at night and keep in the fridge until the a.m. Also, coleslaw, a cold rice or quinoa salad with fresh vegetables are other good options (see the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook") You can pack these salads for lunches too.

Fast morning ideas:
-try Bob's Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Breakfast Cereal - it's like quick-cooking Cream of Wheat (without the gluten). Arrowhead Mills also makes "Rice n' Shine" another quick-cooking hot rice cereal. Cream of buckwheat is good too.
-A few frozen vegetables steamed in the micro or on the stovetop for 5 min. is a great way to start the day (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas) If it's hard to get your kids to eat fresh or steamed veggies, try a wide variety of sauces/dips - hummus, a roasted red pepper or eggplant spread, homemade yogurt sauces if your kids can have milk, homemade dressings or vinaigrettes...you can stock your fridge with these sauces/dips ahead of time.

Try menu planning for the week or even for a few days so you don't waste time getting up wondering what you can cook or if you have the ingredients on hand.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kid's Stir-fried Rice (no soy necessary, but I did use eggs)

The kids needed something fast and nutritionally decent one day, so I decided to make them stir-fried rice. They loved it!

1 crown fresh broccoli, broken into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, shredded or grated
3 scallions, chopped
2 cups of cooked brown rice
3-4 T. sunflower oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten (or you could use silken tofu with tumeric)
1 T. sesame seeds

In a wok, stir-fry broccoli in sunflower oil until soft enough for kids to eat (or crunchy if you like). Add carrots, scallions, and rice. Stir-fry a few minutes until hot. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Note: I recently read that a lot of the proteins people are generally allergic to are found in the whites, not the yolks. My husband, who can't tolerate eggs, has just started eating the nutrient-rich yolks without any adverse effects. Slightly scramble the eggs, when they are no longer runny stir them into the rest of the rice/vegetable mixture. Then make another well in the center and add the sesame seeds. When they are toasted (a few seconds), stir them into the rest of the dish. You can put wheat-free tamari soy sauce on if you can tolerate soy, or my daughter had hers with a little white-wine vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette (from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food cookbook):
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1 T. dijon mustard
sugar (I used a little honey)
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Food Allergy Substitutions

Food Allergy Substitutions

Butter - Cow's milk

Dairy Cream/Evaporated Milk

  • Goat's milk yogurt
  • Cow's milk yogurt (some people allergic to dairy can still have yogurt, where all the lactose has been "digested" by bacteria)

  • Tofutti Sour Cream (soy)

  • For creamy vegetable soups try mixing a little more oat flour, or other allowed flour, with rice or allowed "milk"

  • Whipped Cream - try Tofutti Cream Cheese (soy) or Whipped Coconut Cream http://www.cookingcache.com/dessert/profiteroleswithwhippedcoconutcreamandcaramelizedbananas.shtml
  • Coconut Cream (an unshaken can of coconut will have cream on the top)

Milk - Cow's

  • Rice Milk

  • Nut or Grain Milk - oat, almond, hazelnut

  • Soy Milk
  • Coconut Milk
  • For some muffins, breads, or pancakes, you can just use any kind of fruit juice you like or water for the liquid

  • 1 T lemon juice or vinegar plus enough allowed milk to make 1 cup.  Let stand 5 minutes before using.

All-Purpose Flour

  • Arrowhead Mills Flours - Barley, Oat, Rye, Spelt, Rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Corn etc.

  • Yellow-Corn Masa Flour for tortillas

  • Bob's Red Mill Flours - Tapioca, Potato, Garbanzo Bean, etc.
  • Cornstarch, arrowroot powder, kudzu root starch - all good thickeners, but you can use 2 T. allowed flour to substitute 1 T. of cornstarch


  • Chicken <=> Pork <=> Turkey <=> Duck

  • Beef <=> Ground Buffalo/Bison <=> Lamb <=> Venison <=> Bean Burgers

  • Fish <=> Chicken

  • Chicken Broth <=> Beef Broth <=> Vegetable Broth <=> Seafood Broth


  • Crushed Cereal flakes - oat, kamut, barley, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, etc.

  • Any of the above substitutes for all-purpose flour, cornmeal (for coating meat before frying)

  • Make your own yeast-free quickbread bread using any of the above flours

  • Sourdough bread using wheat-free flour (if you can tolerate it)
  • Crushed crackers - Ryvita (if you're allergic to wheat), rice crackers, or your own homemade crackers from any flour

Eggs - for baking

  • Ener-G-Egg Replacer

  • 1 T. baking powder + 2 T. liquid (note: egg free baking powder can be made with 1 part baking soda, 2 parts cream of tartar, 1 part cornstarch)

  • 2 T. flour + 1/2 T. baking powder + 2 T. liquid.

  • for recipes that call for 2 t. baking powder or 1 1/2 t. baking soda, replace egg with 1 T. vinegar

Eggs - For coating breaded meat or fish/meatballs, etc.

  • 1/2 c water and 3-4 t. brown flaxseeds - boil in a small saucepan and simmer 5-7 min until a gel begins to form.  Strain and discard seeds.

  • 1/3 c water + 1 T. arrowroot powder + 2 t. guar gum

  • 2 oz tofu

Eggs - used as a liquid

  • 1/3 cup apple juice

  • 4 T. pureed apricot or applesauce

  • 1 T. vinegar


  • Honey

  • Molasses

  • Date Sugar

  • Maple Syrup or Maple Sugar

  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Corn Syrup can be replaced with Brown Rice Syrup
  • Fruit Juice thickened with arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • Maple Syrup on pancakes can be replaced with Brown Rice Syrup mixed with some frozen fruit (blueberries, black or red raspberries, strawberries or peaches) and heated on the stove for a few minutes to make a fruit syrup

Soy Sauce

  • Salt

  • Vinaigrette salad dressing - like mustard/white wine/olive oil, or anything else

  • Thai fish sauce

Tomatoes - Sauce

  • can of pumpkin puree with garlic - can add spices like paprika, sumac, chili powder for color

  • canned, frozen, or fresh baked winter squash pureed with lemon juice and red pepper

  • sweet potato puree

  • turnip puree or add some beets for color

Tomatoes - Fresh

  • red peppers, with or without lemon juice

Baking Powder
  • 1 t. baking powder = 1/2 t. cream of tartar + 1/4 t. baking soda
Vinegar & Condiments containing Vinegar
  • mustard (vinegar) with mustard powder mixed with water or wasabi mixed with water (only use a pinch)
  • pesto
  • lemon/lime juice
  • 1/4 t. unbuffered vitamin C powder mixed with about 2 T. water
  • pineapple or orange juice
Gluten (Wheat)
  • Vegan and Gluten-Free Rice Protein Powder
  • Xanthan Gum (about 1/2 t. in each recipe made with G-F flours
Pasta (Wheat)
  • quinoa, brown rice pasta
  • buckwheat soba noodles (like fettucini)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vegan Carrot Cake

Food is so social. We've been having lots of birthday parties lately, and of course, everyone HAS to have CAKE! It's difficult when you have multiple food allergies in social situations - like the donut breakfast at work, friend's birthday party, a wedding dinner, ordering in restaurants, etc., etc. How do you explain to your co-workers/host that you can't eat what they offer to you? I tell my husband to just say that he's vegan (he can't eat eggs, dairy or most "normal" animal products like beef, turkey or chicken). I mean no offense to all the vegans out there - you have made such great strides as a movement that being vegan is no longer viewed as strange. Being vegan/vegetarian just seems much more accepted and it's something people can generally understand. When my husband tells people he can't have this or that because he's allergic, you see the wonder in their eyes and their brains working to try to explain it. Couldn't you just have a little bit? Who ever heard of someone who couldn't eat tomatoes?

Anyway, I was lucky enough to receive "Vegan with a Vengeance" for Christmas - thank you Gail! The first recipe I tried was awesome - it was the Ginger - Macadamia - Coconut - Carrot Cake. I left out the macadamia nuts and spices on half for my kids. The only criticism I have is that it uses refined sugar (3/4 cup) and powdered sugar in the frosting. I guess you sometimes have to give in somewhere. Next time I would like to try to substitute a finely ground date sugar or maple sugar.

New Pizza Crust Idea

It's been 6 months since I made pizza. For some strange reason, my kids will never eat it - even with tomatoes and cheese (which they can have). Anyway, my husband and I had a pizza craving...maybe because we'd been snowed in for so long. So we indulged.

I published a pizza post last July, so the recipe didn't change much. But the big revolution was in the crust. I tried GARBANZO BEAN FLOUR! It made a great crust combined with quinoa flour, and hopefully made the pizza even more nutritious. Toppings this round were: pesto, ham, black olives, green peppers, artichoke hearts, and onions.