Tag Archives: dairy-free

Grain-Free Pancakes

wpid-IMAG0506-1-1.jpgOur way of eating has become second nature.  I almost forget we don’t eat like other people.  We have one cookbook that allows us to fly incognito when we are forced out of our cave or people invade, which actually happens quite often.  Especially that “invade your cave” part.  People with kids much prefer invading caves that other people have to clean and cook in.  Which is okay…because I have better control over the food that way!  Our favorite cookbook has to be The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook written by Elana Amsterdam.  It keeps us with an appearance of eating normal.

I modify all the recipes to be legal with our nutritional overhaul, GAPS (or Paleo or SCD or Primal or Whole 30–you get the idea).  Most recipes don’t mind the transition a bit, but some put up a resistance.  Pancakes put up a fuss.  Pancakes love flour more than I did.  They really must want the arrowroot powder Elana uses, too.  Elana’s pancake recipe yells at me when I try making substitutions.  See?

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So with some tweaking, we got those bloody rebels under better control.  They still exert their power in small ways:

1.  I can’t make them as big as I want to.  Four inches in diameter is all I can get away with.  No “big as your head pancakes” here.  Bummer.  Addendum:  My daughter just got a 7 incher!!!

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2.  I can’t cook them as hot as I want to.  The heat must be medium-low (340 degrees Fahrenheit if you have an electric griddle) or else they’ll burn.

3.  I can’t flip them when I want to or they’ll muck up my skillet and spatula and beautiful, mean sounding, songs will fill the kitchen air.  (“What’s wrong, mommy?”  It’s just a pancake, but it’s my job now.)  Patience is required as to when to flip these.  I keep my burner low and practice patience.  This staying home stuff is a cinch.

All that technical stuff, that’s just the stuff they omit from cookbooks.  So go ahead, try this recipe.  See what you think.

My kids think they taste like the real deal.  Flying under the radar again.

Petulant Pancakes 

(Makes about 19 four-inch diameter pancakes.  Kids can be eating them in about 15-20 minutes from your start time.)

  • 6 eggs
  • Scant 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water, plus or minus a little
  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons oil for in batter (I use olive oil)
  • Oil for skillet

Follow the one dump method:  Combine all ingredients into one large bowl and mix well with a hand-held electric mixer until smooth.  Adjust consistency with water as needed.  Err on the side of not too runny.  It’s kind of like muffin batter, a bit thinner.

Meanwhile, heat your oiled skillet over medium-low heat or to 340-345 degrees Fahrenheit. (I really like my electric skillet because I can quantify the heat level, and I can make so many at once.)

Use a scant 1/4 cup batter for each pancake.  Push the batter around a bit to form into a 4 inch diameter circle.  If you want teeny-tiny, easier to manipulate pancakes, use a tablespoon to dole out the batter.

Cook (PATIENTLY) until the underside is golden brown and set firm, about 3 minutes for the first side.  If your spatula will not easily slide under the pancake, it’s not ready!  Cook other side until golden brown and transfer to a plate.

Serve with desired topping choice.  My girls plated the pancakes you see here with coconut cream, wpid-IMAG0541-1.jpgblueberries, bananas, raspberries, and a drizzle of Dad’s (my dad) maple syrup.  I hope your eating and health is shining.  If not, don’t give up.  Persist.  You can do it.  It is worth it.

Stocking the Pantry

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
T
o get her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare,
And so her poor dog had none.

Well, send that poor dog to my house.  I’ve got soup bones aplenty in the freezer!  No starving here!  Our cupboard has changed significantly since we removed grains, milk, and processed foods, but with my pantry ingredients, I can whip up something pretty fast now for the kids.

A long time ago my sister told me to write up what was in my pantry.  At first, when you start a “nutritional rehab” program, the pantry stock is always changing.  You buy ghee, only to realize three of you don’t tolerate it.  You stock up on coconut milk, only to realize it gives you a headache.  The 12 jars of almond butter arrive in bulk, and you realize two in your family have gastrointestinal symptoms from it.  So over the past year, it was maddening to buy too much in bulk, even though it’s much cheaper!  Don’t pitch things, though!  Over the course of the year, we were able to add most things back in.

The list below is what we keep on hand.  My kids and husband can eat most of these things, but I can’t.  Not everything I list is SCD or GAPS compliant, but it usually is.  We started out very strict and have been able to branch out with time (except me).  If I list a specific product, you can click on it to see a photo about it or read a description of it, usually from the Amazon page.  Amazon is not always the best place to buy it, however, so shop around.  Also, sometimes, the link is to a big bulk order, so if you do decide to order it, watch out for that!

Coconut products

Natural Value full fat coconut milk:  No BPA to mess with my estrogen receptors and no guar gum to upset my stomach.  Because wpid-IMAG0537.jpgthere is no guar gum to bind the coconut milk together, the milk is not homogeneous.  If you need smooth milk, a mild heating will provide you the uniform consistency you want.  For baking, I just give it a quick stir and use it as is.  I keep a can in the refrigerator and add a scoop to warm berries and cinnamon for an easy sweet snack.

Let’s Do…Organic Shredded Coconut, unsweetened:  Texture is a small, fine, dry flake.  I add it to trail mixes, use it in smoothies, add it to granola, and use it in desserts.

Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil:   Nutiva is probably my favorite coconut oil.  I’ve used a few others, also.  Wilderness Family Naturals has a lot of coconut products, and I bought a big coconut oil bucket from them.  It was good, too, but Nutiva is my favorite.  I really wish it came in a glass jar.

Artisana Organic Coconut Butter:  Artisana has such a smooth coconut butter!  Much smoother than the Nutiva brand, which seems almost gritty.

Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour:  I use this for pancakes, muffins, and cakes.

Coconut aminos:  I use these in place of soy sauce.

Sometimes I also keep coconut cream and larger flaked coconut around, but they are not “must stocks.”

Nuts

Roasted, salted almonds:  I buy these at our local markets or buy in bulk on-line.

Sliced almonds:  I buy these at the local supermarket, too–the thin kind you find in the baking section.  I keep them on hand because the Paleo Parents has the BEST recipe that calls for them.

Raw walnuts

Raw pecans

Occasionally, we rotate through pistachios, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts.  I stick to individual nuts and not the mixed nuts.  The mixed nuts and pre-made trail mixes usually have extra starches added to keep them smooth, silky, and unclumped.

Nut products

Almond Butter, unsalted, unsweetened:  We’ve tried a lot of different brands and have yet to settle on a favorite.

Honeyville almond flour:  I buy the huge box because we bake a lot.  (The link is for the smaller bag.)  Personally, even though I love them, I don’t tolerate nut products well, but having almond flour on hand is a must if you have kids or entertain.  The coffee cakes and cupcakes I make with almond flour disappear quickly at potlucks and ladies’ coffees.  My kids “fit in” because I can still make chocolate cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies.  An absolute necessity to keep them on our nutrition change.

We also occasionally keep tahini, sunflower butter, peanut butter, or cashew butter on hand.  Peanut butter and cashew butter gave us all problems initially on GAPS/SCD, but the kids really seem to have developed tolerance to them now (cross my fingers).

Canned meats

Natural Value wild caught albacore tuna in spring water, sea salt added, BPA free:  I could not find a link for this.  I must have wpid-IMAG0539.jpgordered it from Azure Standard.  We use other canned tuna, too, always searching for wild caught, BPA-free, and either in water or olive oil.

Wild Alaskan Salmon, with bones and skin

Sardines in olive oil, preferably with skin and bones

Canned goods

Farmer’s Market organic pumpkin, BPA free:  I use this for soups, muffins, breads, and pancakes.

Cut green beans:  Various brands or home-canned.  Canned is not as nutrient-dense as fresh or frozen, but for expediency and eating, the canned variety can’t be beat.

Canned tomatoes, home-canned and Eden’s organic, crushed tomatoes in glass jars:   The Eden crushed tomatoes are not really atwpid-IMAG0538.jpg all like crushed tomatoes; they are more like plain tomato sauce, so they whip up a fast spaghetti sauce!  I buy them through a company called Azure Standard, which is an organic food delivery system.  I mix the Eden’s tomatoes into meatloaf, chili, and taco sauce.

Applesauce:  We make this every fall and can it.

Condiments and Sides

Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve Balsamic vinegar, aged 18 years:  I’ve linked to Amazon so you can read about it, but the Amazon order is for 12 bottles.  You may want to look around to get one bottle to see if you like it.  Balsamic vinegar must be pure to be “legal” on GAPS/SCD.  Even still, it’s sweetness makes you wonder.  No matter.  This balsamic vinegar is the best I’ve had by far.  because of its age, it’s already thick, and I don’t have to reduce it for sauces and dressings.  We apply it to salads, vegetables, and meats.  I could drink it from the bottle if I knew it was “good” for me.

Organic mustard

Organic ketchup:  I cheat here with the kids because their issues are/were not so significant as mine, and the ketchups I buy have sugar in them.  I do use organic, however, because apparently tomatoes are guilty of high chemical levels.

Mayonnaise:  On a good week (and in the beginning of our nutritional rehabilitation), I make my own, but in a pinch I cheat and use a canola based product made with honey.   It is by Spectrum.

Red wine vinegar

Bragg’s apple cider vinegar

Crofter’s organic strawberry fruit spread:  This contains both pectin and grape juice concentrate, illegals on SCD/GAPS.

Coconut aminos:  See above.

Red Boat fish sauce:  I use this in curries.

Oils/Fats

Olive oil:  I have been experimenting with all kinds of different brands of extra-virgin, first cold-pressed olive oil.  I really, really like Trader Joes’ California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but I only get it when a friend brings me a bottle back from “The Cities.”  I like to get the olive oil in glass.  I’ve been using olive oil to bake lately rather than coconut oil.  Addendum:  While just shopping online, I found Trader Joe’s Olive Oil.  A bit expensive but great for a special salad dressing.

Coconut oil:  See above

Palm shortening:  Its utility is for birthday cake icing.

Loriva toasted sesame cold pressed oil:  A nice twist for stir-fries and curries.

Purity Farms Ghee:  When we started our dietary change a year ago, most in our family had reactions to ghee.  Technically, you’re not “supposed” to react to ghee because the proteins have been removed.  Let me tell you, we still reacted to ghee.  A year later, my daughter can have ghee (and other dairy) with no ill effects.  So maybe this change is doing something.  Time and diligence will tell.

Fermented Foods

Bubbie’s pickles:  I slice these thin for hamburgers and slice into spears for the kids.  Sometimes I chop them up and sprinkle them over things, like sloppy Joe sauce.

Sauerkraut:  I make my own, and I buy Bubbie’s, too.

Sunja’s medium spicy kimchi:  It’s a bit spicy, but my kids will eat a small bit of it.  My local organic store carries it.

Herbs, spices, flavorings (and baking soda)

Almond extract

Baking soda:  Arm and Hammer is easy to obtain, and the label looks “pure” and “clean.”

Basil

Celtic sea salt:  I always try to get the fine ground, and I keep in mind there is NO iodine in it.  We snack on some seaweed now that we’re about a year into our endeavors for iodine.  GAPS/SCD don’t incorporate seaweed in the early phases of the diet.

Cinnamon

Cocoa powder:  My favorite comes from Penzey Spices.  I buy both the dark and the Dutch.  The Dutch chocolate makes good coconut milk hot cocoa.

Curry powder

Garlic powder

Ginger

Italian Seasoning:  This is great on fish, and I use Morton and Bassett’s brand because I like it so much.

Nutmeg

Onion powder

Oregano

Paprika

Parsley

Thyme

Vanilla:  Here I’ve been tricked!   Even high-quality vanillas may add sugar!  If you’re ordering on-line, you can’t always see the label.  For example, Penzey’s spices are super-fresh and reliable, but their vanilla has sugar added!  I use only vanilla that has alcohol, vanilla bean, and water.  Supposedly all of the proteins have been left behind in the distillation process, so I don’t fret about the original grain being a “gluten container.”  I’m still experimenting with vanillas to find my favorite.

My spice cupboard overflows beyond what is listed, but these are the staples that take care of me day in and day out.  Penzeys Spices taste incredible to me, and I think their prices are reasonable.  They list all the ingredients in their products, I just missed the fact their vanilla had sugar in it!

We also use Montreal Steak Seasoning on grilled chicken and steak, and Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic on pan-fried fish, but because they list “spices” as an ingredient, I think these should be used with caution.  Again, I didn’t use these until our symptoms had resolved, and I added them back in and watched.  They made the cut for my family (and me!).

Sweeteners

Local raw honey:  I like to use this in teas for its known positive qualities (antibacterial, local pollen immune boosters).  Some recipes I use (like frostings) do better with the stiffer, raw honey.  Also, it’s helpful to use as “glue” when making cute snacks for the kids.  Sometimes I’ll use it in baking, and it always seems to do fine.  It’s just not as easy to get out of the container as the pourable honey.

Local “liquid” honey:  Easy to pour for baking.

Maple syrup:  My dad makes and sells maple syrup on a small, local basis, so we break SCD/GAPS law here and use it.  I appreciate the fact that it has quite a few minerals packed into a little punch for the kids.  Does that offset the sugar nemesis?  I don’t know.  Sugar is sugar is sugar.  I won’t eat it much at all until I’m either functioning like I want or have given this SCD/GAPS/Paleo autoimmune (whatever you want to call it) thing a 100% go and it fails.  I think having maple syrup on their pancakes is one of the tricks that helped keep the kids on board with this diet intervention.

Agave:  I have on hand for baking, but we almost always use honey for baking.

Liquid Stevia drops:  Too many Stevia drops, and my family won’t eat it.  It gets a funny taste.  We don’t use Stevia much, but it’s helpful for a smoothie that isn’t just quite “there” or a barbecue sauce that needs just a touch of sweetness, but I think I’ve already added too much honey.  For us, it’s a “sweetener booster” for recipes where the baseline level of sweetness just doesn’t “make it.”  I don’t think it’s GAPS/SCD legal, either.

Sweets/Snacks

Raisins

Dried currants:  Great to have on hand for making cute snacks (think, eyes) and also better tolerated by kids in cakes, muffins, and cookies.

Dried bananas:  We like to make our own in the dehydrator.

Dried dates

Dried figs

Good Life chocolate chips:  These have sugar added, so they’re a real treat for us.

SeaSnax seaweed in olive oil:  Not SCD compliant, and only GAPS compliant after the introduction.

Coco-roons:  They have different flavors.  Clean ingredients, and I don’t have to make them.

If you made it reading this far, maybe you’d take the time to let me know YOUR favorite product!  Mine would probably have to be that balsamic vinegar I mentioned!

The Bony Triad

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Blog post in form of letter with more discussion/information following.  The daughter in question is 9 years old:

Dear Mom and Dad,

How are you both?  Good enough here.  M1’s foot hurts, and there’s a high possibility that it’s a stress fracture, even though nothing showed up on the X-ray.  This makes me very concerned and ashamed because I have not been tracking our calcium intake very well.  I should know better than that.  As you know, we eliminated dairy for symptoms of cough variant asthma requiring Flovent and albuterol, allergic rhinitis requiring Flonase and Xyzal, chronic sinus infections requiring multiple antibiotics, and severe chronic constipation requiring daily Miralax.  Although we are amazingly prescription-free now on a day-to-day basis, in trying to achieve health in these other areas, I believe I have neglected bone health.  Just like all of my medical journals say.  Children who don’t eat dairy products are at high risk of low calcium intake.

Bang.  Shot dead.

Honestly, I have been very diligent about incorporating calcium-rich food sources into our diets, but M1 is my finicky child.  Now that I have started tracking each family member’s calcium intake, I see a huge problem.  M1 only eats half her greens.  M1 only eats half her salmon patty.  M1 snubs canned sardines.  Although the kid will pig out on broccoli, it’s certainly not enough to keep the running balance in the black.  Sadly, she’s not just a little short on calcium, she’s far short.  It isn’t enough to just provide the calcium source if she doesn’t eat it.

And to add fuel to the fire, winter has gripped us for seven long months now.  It’s April 23rd, and it snowed today, adding to our present foot of snow.  That means no intrinsic vitamin D production to help the body absorb and use calcium most efficiently.  That means very little bone building physical activity.  Although I think the body will compensate for deficiencies to a point, I think we’re at the calcium breaking point.  Obviously.

Low calcium.  Low vitamin D.  Low physical activity.  Put them together and what do you got?  A set-up for poor bone health.  No matter how “healthy” we’ve been eating.  Just a reminder to me that “healthy” is all relative.  Guess we don’t know for sure it was a stress fracture unless we get an MRI, which we don’t feel is warranted.  So we’ll just use this as a wake-up call for diligence.

Love to you,

Terri

Perhaps an Over Reaching Deficit

Bone health is not as simple as drink your milk.  Take a calcium supplement.  Eat your greens.  If any person, medical or otherwise, tries to make it appear simple, be a skeptic.  It is a complex interaction among calcium, vitamin D, weight-bearing exercise (running, jumping, lifting, etc), vitamin C, magnesium, protein, acid-base balance, vitamin K2, other micronutrients, genetics, body weight, and so many other biological and environmental factors.

I am not trying to overestimate or underplay the importance of calcium, but I want to raise awareness of perhaps overreaching calcium deficits in children who don’t consume dairy.  Like my child.  Perhaps a child can get by on 800 mg daily or 600 milligrams daily or 300 milligrams daily.  But there has to be a line somewhere for our poor bodies, and we just don’t know where it is right now.  In my mind, M1’s 225 milligrams has to be pushing the body’s envelope, literally at a breaking point.

Maximal bone mass is produced in adolescence.

Maximal bone mass is produced in adolescence and throughout early adulthood, when the body is rapidly undergoing growth–and thus why the calcium recommended daily allowance takes a jump at age nine.  Ninety-five percent of my daughter’s bone mass will be present by age 20.  I don’t have much time.

If a child’s body doesn’t get enough calcium, a mineral level the body regulates VERY tightly in the blood, it WILL rob the bones.  Gasp.  My husband and I decided that it wasn’t worth messing around with, and we picked up a calcium with vitamin D supplement for the kids.

“Well, what about…?”  We could dicker all day.

  • Is the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium truly based on any science?
  • Is the RDA set too high?
  • Does calcium supplementation really prevent osteoporosis and fractures?
  • Can a person sustain less calcium intake and not sacrifice the bones as long as they get plenty of sun exposure and good physical activity?
  • Why do cultures with the highest calcium intake have some of the highest osteoporosis rates?

All interesting questions, but I’m down in the trenches being a mom.  I’ve got to come to a conclusion.

So What’s This Mom to Do?

  • Continue intrinsically calcium-rich foods. 
    • Keep serving up the calcium containing foods she likes.  Start putting extra broccoli on her plate.  Make a point to leave out a bowl of almonds out on the counter for spontaneous munchies.  Incorporate kale into soups and smoothies. 
    • Keep providing exposure to the calcium-dense foods she doesnt’ like, in the hopes that repeated exposure and encouragement will triumph.  Things like collard greens, salmon patties, and figs.  Maybe finding some new recipes would help.
  • Add in a basic calcium with vitamin D supplement.  Sure I wanted to acquire it through “honest” nutrition, but we’re not getting even in the ballpark of calcium requirements.  To us, the benefits outweigh the risks.
    • What about calcium enriched orange juice or rice milk?  I can’t help but think of fortified, processed foods as “Food on Botox”.  We don’t routinely use these foods in our home; they are real treats for the kids.  Compared to an orange, orange juice is empty, barren, liquid sugar.  Go for the orange, kid.  They don’t much like to drink rice milk, and we rarely eat cereal.  However, I do keep fortified rice milk in the pantry for odds and ends, and I no longer feel guilty about using it.
    • My kids take a pill supplement without difficulty so this is the path I have chosen, that I may continue to fill their stomachs with “honest” food rather than food stripped of nutrients and then fortified.
  • Try to find time daily for one hour of weight-bearing activity.  Bone formation responds to physical use against gravity.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease scenario.  If the bones are telling the body they need to be stronger to respond to their client’s volleyball training, like muscle builds up with use, so do the bones.  It has to be activity with running, walking, jumping, and lifting.  Swimming and cycling are great exercise, but they don’t build the bones.  Physical exercise is easy in the summer.  What about our seven months of winter?
    • Turn on You Tube or the Ipod and have the kids dance it up to 80s music.
    • Continue our extracurricular activities (dance, tae kwan do, gymnastics).
    • Have everyone bundle up and go for a walk.  Or walk the YMCA indoor track with me.
    • Clean the garage and have the kids jump rope.
    • Have stair races.  Time the kids and see who can get up and down the stairs 3 times the fastest.
    • Create obstacle courses in the house.
  • Continue encouraging whole foods to provide the “minor” (but vital) players in bone health.
    • Citrus fruits for vitamin C
    • A nut mix of almonds and Brazil nuts for magnesium
    • When I learned about vitamin K in medical school, I only learned about one form.  The form we get from dark greens.  The form that reduces the blood thinning effect of Coumadin.  However, there is another form called vitamin K2 that is very important for bone health.  So I’ll try to provide free-range chicken, free-range eggs, and not feel guilty about serving them salami and pepperoni–sources of vitamin K2.
    • Continue our well-rounded consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, and eggs to get the copper, manganese, zinc, iron, potassium, boron, silica, and other unknown substances important for overall health and bone health.
  • “Sun, sun, Mr. Golden Sun, shine your light on me.”  Do you listen to the dermatologists here?  Slather on sunscreen?  Wear long-sleeve clothing?  Stay inside during peak sun exposure hours? 

I said, “Let them play.  Protect them early in the summer with sunscreen and clothing until they have a base tan and no longer will burn.”  Orthopedic husband said, “What about skin cancer?”  And I said, “Vitamin D helps cut down on breast cancer and colon cancers.  You can’t see those.”  He said, “Well, what is the incidence of morbidity and mortality of those compared to melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell?”  And the debate continued on like this.

I do not want my kids to burn.  But I don’t want my kids exposed to unnecessary chemicals in sunscreen.  I want my kids to get intrinsic vitamin D production from the sun.  But I don’t want my kids to get skin cancer.  Since I’m not a dermatologist, I err on the side of vitamin D production from the sun side.  But if I was a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, I am sure I’d switch to the other side.  Here are some articles.  You decide for yourself.  No matter what, the conclusion seems to be that vitamin D is good for the body and bones, and we dont’ get enough.  However, please note that you CAN get too much vitamin D supplementation and overdose.  Not good.  So pay attention.

Given concern about skin cancer, many patients and clinicians are cautious regarding sun exposure recommendations. However, exposure of arms and legs for 5 to 30 minutes between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm twice a week can be adequate to prevent vitamin D deficiency.59  ”  http://www.jabfm.org/content/22/6/698.full

Sunscreen Use: Correctly-applied sunscreen blocks the harmful ultraviolet B rays that cause skin cancer, but it also blocks most of the skin’s production of vitamin D. So people who use sunscreen daily are more likely to be low in vitamin D. But don’t ditch the sunscreen: The American Academy of Dermatologists says that sunlight exposure to unprotected skin increases the risk of skin cancer, and that there’s no safe level of sunlight exposure that allows you to make vitamin D without increasing skin cancer risk. Their advice? Use sunscreen or other sun protection daily, skip the tanning booths, and get your vitamin D from diet or supplements. Some Vitamin D experts take issue with the American Academy of Dermatologists’ hard line on sun exposure, and they recommend a more moderate option: Put sunscreen on your face, and allow your arms and legs to get a small amount of unprotected sun exposure—say, 15 minutes max—before applying sunscreen or covering up. It’s still a matter of scientific debate.”  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d-deficiency-risk/

 

“We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4000-8000 IU are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases – breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes,” said Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.  “I was surprised to find that the intakes required to maintain vitamin D status for disease prevention were so high – much higher than the minimal intake of vitamin D of 400 IU/day that was needed to defeat rickets in the 20th century.”   http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/health/02-22VitamanD.asp

In Summary

Although calcium with vitamin D supplementation isn’t optimal, it is the decision my husband and I have settled on for our children due to our nutritional restrictions and choices.  For now.  Hopefully we’ll eventually get the required calcium in via foods.  And move to a sunny paradise.

FYI:  The Calcium Conundrum interviews a Purdue University researcher who has studied calcium intake extensively.  I enjoyed reading her comments knowing she had first hand insight into calcium metabolism.

Citations:

1.  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/117/2/578.shor

2.  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01622292#

3.  http://www.bmj.com/content/333/7572/775

4.  http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/

5.  http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00127

Goldfish

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Before we eliminated processed foods, Goldfish crackers used to be our “healthy” snack.  My daughter created a lovely way to still be able to eat “Goldfish.”

I marvel at how removing available options revs up the ingenuity.

“Ingredients”:

  • Dried apricots (1 for the body, 1/2 for tail fin, and 1/4 for top fin)
  • Currants (cut in half for eye and some for bubbles out of mouth)
  • Sliver of red apple peel (for the mouth)
  • Raw honey for “glue”
  • Blueberries for the water underneath the fish

Make a “school” of these fish to take to school for preschool snack!

Wishing you a lovely day!

L is for Lemon Bars

I have made these 2-3 times now.  A real hit with my family.  Unfortunately, the almond flour crust does NOT like to be overbaked, and so much to my chagrin, the topping gets devoured and the crust left behind.  But if you do not overbake the crust, you will  be tickled pink–or lemon yellow!  One of mine even likes the crust, shall we call it, “overbrowned“!  I have taken the lemon bars into preschool for snacks twice, and this time it is for the letter “L” in our “Snack through the Alphabet.” 

Please note that this recipe is for TWO 9×13 pans!!!  One to send to school and one for the family!

Lemon Bars

Crust
4 cups almond flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoonsful salt
4-6  tablespoonsful of oil (I’ve used coconut oil and even olive oil.)
6 tabelspoonsful of honey
2 tablespoonsful vanilla extract
Plus additional oil to oil pans

Lemon topping
1 and 1/4 cup oil (as mentioned above, I’ve used coconut oil and vegetable oil)
1 and 1/4 cup honey
14 eggs
2 cups lemon juice, on the scant side (I used freshly juiced)
2 teaspoonsful baking soda

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Oil two 9X13 glass baking dishes.
3.  Dump (yes, dump) all of the crust ingredients into a large bowl (begin with the 4 tablespoonsful of oil and add more if needed to hold the dough together) and mix well with hands to make a “dough” that holds together but breaks easily.
4.  Divide the crust mixture between the two baking dishes and press the dough into the bottoms of the baking dishes.
5.  Bake the crusts for 5 minutes.  Do not allow to brown.  Take out after the 5 minutes.
5.  While crusts are baking, put all of the lemon topping ingredients in a large bowl and mix with an electic mixer until smooth and mixed well.
6.  Pour the topping mixture over the lightly baked crusts.
7.  Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  I repeat, the crust can easily overbrown and taste burnt.  The topping will still be delectable, but you will be mad about the crust.
8.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate.  Best served cold.

I am waiting for the time to make this into a pie with a beautiful meringue topping!

Creamy Squash Soup with Sausage

My family all liked this soup.  Two of the kids picked out the meat, but the rest of us liked it in there.  The “sausage” recipe follows below separately from the soup recipe.  The only thing that would make this soup better for me is if somebody else cooked it and cleaned the kitchen when done!

Soup 6:  Creamy Squash Soup with Sausage

1 medium-sized butternut squash (buttercup is also spectacular here!  or even pumpkin!–and sometimes I mix them together)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves pressed garlic
1/2″ peeled, minced fresh ginger (about 1 rounded teaspoonful) (ground, dried would be substitutable)
4 tablespoonsful of olive oil
2 quarts of chicken broth (more or less to desired consistency, sometimes it seems like I only need 1 quart and others the full 2 quarts!)
1/2 teaspoonful coriander
pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoonful ground cloves
1 teaspoonful cinnamon
1/2 teaspoonful nutmeg
1-2 teaspoonsful salt
Browned (cooked) crumbled sausage, amount as desired (I use about a 1/4 pound), recipe follows
Coconut milk to taste or consistency, added in at the end

1.  Choose your method of preparation to cook squash (oven, boil, or steam).  I chose to cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.  I then steamed the squash in my steaming pot until it was fork tender.  Then, when it was cool enough, I cut/scooped the soft flesh off of the shell and cut into chunks.  Set aside until ready to combine ingredients in the soup pot.

2.  While squash is cooking, saute onion, ginger, and garlic in olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot until soft and aromatic.  Add the coriander, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Continue sautéing until mixed through.

3.  Add the chicken broth (starting with 1 quart) and squash to the soup pot.  Stir together and heat through.  Use immersion blender or blender to blend soup very smooth.  You may want to add more chicken broth if you like your soup thinner.  Don’t forget that coconut milk may be added if you desire at the end– so don’t make it too thin if you’re going to be adding that.

4.  Add the browned “sausage” to the soup.  Heat through and serve.

5.  Add coconut milk as a garnish and to add a creamy texture and flavor.  Add as much as you want, but we save it for the end because we LOVE the flair it gives the presentation of the soup!

Family “gustar” report:  5/5 loved the soup.  I didn’t get the kids’ votes, though, until I handed them the coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and allowed them to “juice” it up the way they wanted.  When handed their bowls, they looked at me like I was crazy.  “I don’t like it.”  And they hadn’t even tried it.  So I gave them a pep talk about how “I make the basic soup, but it’s YOU who has to make it your own!  Add a little of this and that.  Make it YOUR soup.”  That made it fun,  and they had seconds.  They definitely wanted the coconut milk in there.  I left it out.  If your eater is really fussy, and you can let them have a little honey or maple syrup in it, the sweetness is delicious.

Sausage

I really like spices a lot.  So I add a lot to my sausage.  Pick and choose what you think you’d like, but I think the salt, sage, cumin, pepper, and cinnamon are my favorites.  The rest are because I’m having fun in the kitchen.  I love to add a little of this and a little of that.

1 pound ground beef (we also have ground goat, and it makes great sausage!)
1/4 onion, diced
1/2-1 teaspoonful cumin
1/2-1 teaspoonful salt
1 teaspoonful sage  ( I really like sage in my sausage, so I usually add extra–more like a heaping tablespoonful for me!)
1/4 teaspoonful cinnamon
1/4 teaspoonful nutmeg
1/2 teaspoonful pepper
1/2 teaspoonful oregano
1/2 teaspoonful basil

Mix all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until mixed thoroughly.  Make into patties and use immediately or freeze for later.  Or brown it and use it in soups or omelets.

Chocolate Cake and Frosting

Chocolate cake and frosting

Chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet.

Celebrated my baby sister’s 26th birthday yesterday.  So had to take a break from soups and revisit sweets.  Darn.  This chocolate cake hits the nail on the head.  However, frosting has been challenging for me without butter, cream, and refined sugar.  After a few attempts and a trial of palm shortening, accomplished a sweet, thick, chocolaty, pipable frosting.  The gluten-free, dairy-free, GAPS nutrition program-legal chocolate birthday cake is done.  I have no changes to make.  No craving to fulfill.  This takes care of it.  And it is good.

Chocolate Cake:

A very good, moist, and thick chocolate cake.  Great chocolate flavor.

Ingredients:

3 cups almond flour (Honeyville is what I use)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I’ve used Hershey’s Dark and also Penzey’s, loved the dark chocolate in this recipe, but both great!)
3/4 teaspoonful salt
3/4 teaspoonful baking soda
1 and 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional, but enhances chocolate flavor)
5 eggs, divided into whites and yolks
1 and 1/2 cups honey
1 and 1/2 generous tablespoonsful vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. For 2 layer cake:  Oil two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans and also line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Oil the top of the parchment paper also. (Your circle doesn’t need to be perfect, and it shouldn’t go up the sides of the pan. It’s just that if the cake is going to stick, it seems to do it in the middle of the pan.)
3. Mix almond flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and cardamom together in a medium-sized bowl.
4. In a large bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
5. In a medium-sized bowl, mix yolks, honey, and vanilla together well.
6. Gently pour the yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites and fold together.
7. Gently hand mix, but mix thoroughly, the dry ingredients into the egg mixture.
8. Pour into prepared pans.
9. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Don’t overbake. Not forgiving.)
10. Allow to cool a bit (30 minutes, maybe) and then turn bottom layer out onto desired dish. (Mine turned out well even a few hours later after I’d gotten the frosting right.)
11.  Spread chocolate frosting between layers, as well as a layer of honey meringue frosting between layers (recipes follow).  Put on top layer.  Frost top and sides with chocolate frosting.  I just like the whipped creamy-like moistness that the honey meringue frosting sitting between the layers gives the cake, but I don’t like to frost the entire cake with it because it’s too strong of a honey flavor.

Please note:  Sometimes the cake sinks in the middle and sometimes not.  Sorry.  Maybe someone else can help me with this.

Chocolate Frosting:

A nice thick, creamy frosting with good chocolate flavor that will spread and pipe prettily.

4 ounces of 100% unsweetened cacao chocolate (Ghirardelli used)
1 cup of palm shortening (Spectrum used)
1/2 cup of raw honey that is set up at room temperature, not the pourable kind (although that might work, I don’t know)
1 tablespoonful of vanilla, or to taste

1. Chop chocolate bar into fine pieces (I used my hand held food chopper).
2. Melt over double boiler until just melted.  Remove from heat.
3. Allow to cool but still remain a liquid.
4. Meanwhile, cream together the palm shortening, honey, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
5. Slowly add in the melted chocolate while beating, only a little at a time to make sure it’s not too hot. Make VERY sure the chocolate is not warm enough to melt the palm shortening. (I added in a teaspoonful and mixed, repeated, and repeated until I was very sure the chocolate would not melt the shortening.)
6. Refrigerate just a bit if needed, but if you do so too long, it gets hard and you have to wait for it to warm up a bit and then refluff it.
7. Frost cake or put into piping bag and pipe on frosting.

Honey Flavor Meringue Frosting:

This frosting has a strong honey flavor.  Not reminiscent of the birthday cakes I had growing up.  So to spread the whole cake in this is too much honey for me.  But spreading it between the layers of a two-layer cake, along with the chocolate frosting–then icing the entire cake with the chocolate frosting–gives it a sweetness and moistness boost, making it decadent! Nearly sinful.

2 egg whites
1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoonful salt
1 teaspoonsful vanilla
1.  Bring water in the bottom pan of a double boiler to a boil (alternative to a double boiler is to use a large heat-stable glass bowl over a saucepan).
2.  As you are waiting on water to boil, put honey, egg whites, and salt in top pan of double boiler and mix well for one minute with hand mixer.  Make sure your top pan of the double boiler is large enough for the whites when you froth them up.  The mixture will froth up as you beat it in the pan.  It almost overflows my pan, but it doesn’t.
3.  Once water in the bottom pan is boiling, place honey and egg mixture pan (or bowl) on top of the boiling water bath.  Be sure the boiling water does not touch the bottom of the pan.
4.   Beat with a handmixer constantly for 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.
5.  Mix in vanilla.

Conversely, you can bring the honey to a boil in a pan for about 4-7 minutes (don’t burn).  In the meantime beat egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form.  Slowly, slowly pour the honey into the egg whites, beating constantly.  Add in vanilla.  Beat to desired consistency.  Sometimes I just can’t get this to stiffen as much as I’d like.

Things I had to look up:
Is it chocolaty or chocolatey?  Both are correct.
How to spell pipable:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pipable.
How about fulfill?  Looks as if there is a British spelling and an American spelling.  (fulfil vs. fulfill)

White Chicken Chili

White chicken chileA great soup!  Often I make it without the beans, too.

Soup 3: White Chicken Chili

Ingredients:
2 cups of pre-cooked navy beans, optional*
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, if desired, diced
3 tablespoonsful olive oil
shredded cooked chicken, about 1-2 cups
1 teaspoonful salt or to taste, if you make your own broth and already use salt, err on the side of less
1 teaspoonful pepper or to taste
1 teaspoonful Mexican oregano (or whatever oregano you have)
1 tablespoonful cumin, or to taste
1-2 quarts of chicken broth
1-2 limes, cut into wedges
cilantro, 1 bunch
avocado, peeled and sliced

1. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed soup pan.
2. Saute onion, garlic, and jalapeno in olive oil until softened.
3. Add in salt, pepper, Mexican oregano, and cumin and saute a bit longer.
4. Add in shredded cooked chicken, cooked beans (optional), and 1 quart of chicken broth.  Eyeball it.  If you think it needs more broth to be “runnier”, add more broth.
5. Bring to boil and simmer 10-20 minutes for flavors to mix.  If you’re not adding navy beans, the soup is finished.  Be sure to skip to step 7.  The soup really comes together with the garnish of cilantro, avocado, and lime.  Otherwise, it’s just okay.
6. If navy beans were used, allow the soup to cool enough to use an immersion blender to quickly blend the soup to desired texture. Blending a portion of the soup gives it a thicker, creamier texture. But we don’t like it blended into a puree.  You could also carefully use a hand masher to mash some of the beans and do the same thing. Or put about 1/4 of the soup into your blender (allow to cool or add some reserved cool broth) and blend in the blender and return to pot.
7. To serve soup, juice a wedge of lime into the soup, add some cilantro and avocado.

* (I soaked the navy beans vastly covered in water and a squeeze of lemon juice for three days…do they need soaked this long? I don’t know.  Theoretically it all sounds good; decrease lectins and phytic acid.  I changed the water and rinsed the beans a couple of times each day.  Some had sprouted by the time I stuck them in a crock pot overnight on low to cook them and rinsed them again before using.  I had several cups left over and used them in chili and on salads.)

Family “gustar” report:  5/5 ate it and like it.  2/5 loved it.  1/5 thought it was too spicy.

You may also be interested in:
Pease Porridge (Pea Soup)
Chunky Squash Chicken Soup

Do You Know How Long It’s Been Since I’ve Had a Cupcake?

wpid-IMAG1417-1.jpgMy gluten-intolerant, dairy-intolerant friend doesn’t like to bake or cook.  So when I sent some of these home with her, she asked me, “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a cupcake?”  That tore at my heart!

I started with a chocolate cake recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam.

But it just didn’t have a strong chocolate flavor.  So I added more cocoa.  And it sank too much in the middle.  I tried adding another egg.  Seemed to do the trick.

It is best to let these sit overnight, although we downed quite a few on bake-night.  Ours came out of the wrappers terrifically the day after they were made.  Not crumbly a bit.  I tried making them in fancy white paper cups from Wilton and cheaper normal cupcake wrappers.  Cheaper worked best.

Chocolate Almond-Flour Cupcakes

Yields:  24

Ingredients:

2 Cups of Almond Flour (Honeyville has been best for me)

1/3 cup of cocoa, on the scant side (love Penzeys brand)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoonful of cardamom (may be omitted, but it enhanced the chocolate flavor)

3 eggs, divided into whites and yolks

1 cup of honey

1 generous tablespoonful of vanilla

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin pan with paper liners.

2.  Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  (Please note that I tried running the cocoa and almond flour through a sifter to see if it contributed anything to texture.  Texture is good, but sifter didn’t seem to make a difference for the Honeyville flour.)

3.  Crack eggs and place the whites in a medium-sized bowl and set aside to be whipped.   Place the yolks in another medium-sized bowl.

4. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

5.  To the yolks, add the honey and vanilla and mix well.

6.  Gently fold the yolk/honey/vanilla mixture into the whites.

7.  Gently hand-mix the dry almond-flour mixture into the egg mixture.

8.  Scoop batter into prepared muffin pans (I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup and that filled them about right.)

9.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until the tops are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (this is usually about the time they start really smelling great and your mouth is watering for cupcake NOW).

10.  Allow to cool in pan a bit before trying to remove.  Centers may sink a bit as they cool.  Ours didn’t sink too much.

11.  Frost when cool.

Addendum:  I made this cake yesterday (11/12/12) as a cake.  I made the recipe 1.5 times as much (rounded the eggs up) and poured into round 9 inch cake pans (grease well).  It was awesome–I used a coconut milk ganache layer in the middle and a boiled honey and whipped egg white frosting.  Awesome.  Again–good the first day–but the second day–absolutely the best.  Moister, richer, just…”MMMM.”  Awesome.

Remembered to take photo of last cupcake so you could see the crumb/texture. Not really decorative as I just slapped lots of icing on for me to eat! Sorry!

Chocolate Frosting

(Fly by the seat-of-your-pants recipe.  Ingredient amounts will not be exact.  It will require taste-testing and adding more of this or that.)

Try Googling the internet for frosting made of lard.  I did and didn’t have too much success.  Lard for the actual pastry, cake, or cookie–absolutely.  But lard for frosting–“YUCK–DON’T DO IT!”  An actual quote from one site I Googled.   However, one-track-minds can’t put ideas to rest.  (If you’re on GAPS, SCD, or you’re a homeschooler–you know you’ve got one of those stubborn, one-track brains that won’t take “no” for an answer.  You know it.  You know what I’m talking about!)

Well, we needed a dairy-free creamy, chocolate, melt-in-your-mouth frosting that was GAPS/SCD legal (cocoa powder is not really SCD legal–I conveniently hop from GAPS to SCD or vice versa to suit my fancy!  LOL!  But seriously, only if my goals are being met. And right now they are!  Yippee!).  I had lots of freshly rendered lard.  Snowy-white and yelling at me, “I’m perfect for frosting!  Try it!”  So I turned on the Kitchen-Aid and whipped that lard until light and fluffy.  Beautiful, really.

This:

Rendered lard

Became this:

Ingredients:

About 2-3 cups of refrigerated pure lard, no preservatives or additives

About 1/2 cup of cocoa powder

About 1/2 cup of honey

About 1 tablespoon of vanilla

About 2 teaspoons of almond extract (you may or may not need)

Directions:

1.   Whip cold lard until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes or so.

2.  Add in some of the cocoa, some of the honey, some of the vanilla, and some of the almond extract (if desired).

3.  Whip mixture some more.

4.   Taste.

5.  Add some more of whatever is lacking. More chocolate?  More sweetness?  More rounding out with vanilla?   Get the paranoid feeling you can still taste pork?–that’s what the almond extract is there to mask:).  Obviously as you add the needed honey, the frosting will get thinner, mine was like the consistency of a brownie mix.  But it wasn’t thinner than cake batter.

6.   Put it into the fridge to chill.  Let chill for about an hour.

7.   Whip it up again.  And frost cupcakes.