Tag Archives: gluten-free

Easy Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken with 1-2-3 collard greens, spaghetti squash, and garden onion.

Roasted chicken with 1-2-3 collard greens, spaghetti squash, and garden onion.

A sure-fire winner and super easy. A family favorite.

Easy Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken
Olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp onion powder

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mix salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl.
3. Rinse chicken and pat chicken very dry with paper towels. If there is twine, you may leave it in place while baking. Check the chicken cavity for any parts the butcher put in there and remove them if included.
4. Rub chicken liberally with olive oil with your bare hands.
5. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture all over the chicken and rub in, legs, breasts, wings, and all.
6. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish, a 9X13 glass dish works well, with the BREAST side up.
7. Bake chicken about 45 minutes, depending on how hot your oven cooks.
8. Check with a meat thermometer. You want the internal temperature to be at least 165 degrees. Caution: check the densest part of the chicken. I actually like to cook it to 170 degrees. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, err on overbaking without burning the skin. Take out the chicken if the skin begins to burn. However, you want the skin nice, brown, and crispy.
9. We start by carving the breast on top first. The skin is edible, despite the common practice in the 80s and 90s of removing it. We didn’t know what we were doing back then. I have senior photos with big hair to prove it. Then we drizzle the drippings over the meat like a gravy. The legs and wings may be gently manipulated and cut through with a knife.

Free-range chickens have the best fatty acid profile (more omega-3s) to benefit you. Look for those if you can find them.

Everyone in my family, all three kids included, love this chicken. Super easy and delicious.

I’m trying to get people interested in cutting out processed foods from their diets and cutting back on grain products.  On Facebook, I am posting what we eat all day for a week.  Check out our grain-free, GAPS, SCD, Paleo, Primal, whole food-friendly meals…The Homeschooling Doctor.

Chicken, breast side up, ready to be roasted.

Chicken, breast side up, ready to be roasted.

Chicken after roasting.

Chicken after roasting.

Eating Out

We just finished a ten day vacation.

Vacation=eating out.

You call it “eating out”?  Mmph.  For those of us on nutritional intervention, it’s more like eating “without.”

Although I suppose…

“Yes, waiter, well, I–uh–brought my $20 glass bottle of cold-pressed extra virgin organic olive oil here–I’m sure the chef won’t mind using it, will he?  Along with some of these chopped organic vegetables and this lovely filet of grass-fed beef –and this is some Celtic sea salt…I can’t have gluten, dairy, soy, any of those “naughty oils,” artificial colors, artificial preservatives, sugar, and I’m trying to avoid eggs and nuts, too.”  All spoken as you pull a couple of skillets out of your stylish backpack to make sure there’s no dairy or gluten cross-contamination when your food is cooked.

…then maybe, just maybe, dinner could be escaped unscathed.  But as it is, eating out can be a real headache and stomach ache.  Literally.  Is it worth it?  Sometimes.  But mostly I’ve found I’d rather clean the kitchen than eat out.  (Sad, considering eating out used to be one of our most favorite things to do.)

I’ve been following this diet called GAPS for just about a year now.  It has helped A LOT.  I’ve had to take out certain GAPS-allowed foods which brings me pretty much in-line with Paleo.  Sometimes I try to take it a bit further by combining autoimmune Paleo with GAPS (emphasis on homemade broths, fermented foods, certain supplements, and some hate stares at “toxins”) to see if I can achieve complete success.  If you know what in the heck I’m talking about, good for you.  If you don’t, well, let’s trade places, please.  Anyhow, eating out is challenging to navigate with dietary restrictions.

On eating (with) out:

First Question: “How am I doing?” or “What am I on this diet for?”

  • If I’m in the clutches of a cloudy head, headache, bloating, and diarrhea, I don’t eat out–my anniversary, my birthday, my mom’s birthday, or God’s birthday.  I stick close to home and re-establish a safe zone.
  • If I’m feeling great and have been for a while, maybe it’s time to rock the boat and take that chance.
  • Bottom line here is–I’m working very hard to see if I can get rid of some health issues I have.  I work very hard to keep moving forward, and I don’t want to destroy that progress.  However, I have found that I can now go out to eat with few, if any, setbacks, as long as I am cautious.

Second Question:  “Where am I at in this food journey?”

  • GAPS and SCD have introduction diets, and really, there’s just not anything from a restaurant allowed in that interval.  I didn’t chance it on stage 1 and 2 of GAPS.  Once I got to roasted meats, I felt more secure with a steak and steamed veggies.
  •  On the initiation of Paleo, Primal, Whole 30 or any other dietary overhaul, it really is not the time to eat out unless you have the will-power of Helen Keller and the stamina of Job.  You deserve success on these nutritional undertakings, and to eat out early on may be more than you can handle.  “Know thyself.”  Maybe you can do it.  I couldn’t back then.

Third Question:  “How strict do I want to be?”

  • If you’re an absolutist regarding oil, grass-fed, organic, preservatives, sugar, and “spices”–best stay home awhile longer until/if you can branch out a bit.  It is YOUR HEALTH and you know best how compromising you should be.  Listen to yourself.

Fourth Question:  “Where do you want to go?”

  • Not even a question.  Steak.  Next choice, seafood and sushi.  Third choice, Thai food with its use of coconut milk and minimal gluten.
    • I found Indian food very challenging because they use so much dairy, but I did manage to get a chicken and tomato based sauce at an Indian food once after a long discussion with our waitress.  Tandoori chicken is marinated in yoghurt.
    • At a Mexican restaurant, I ordered steak and grilled fajita vegetables topped with guacamole.  I avoid all sauces except guacamole and salsa, which I ask about.
    • At a local favorite pizza joint, after a conversation with the owner, I ordered 3 sides (totalling 6) of Harvey's dinnermeatballs (only composed of ground beef, onion, and “spices”–no breadcrumbs or eggs) covered with tomato sauce (which unfortunately had soybean oil and “spices”) and toppings of my choice.  Delicious.
    • For breakfast, I go for the bacon (3 sides of 2 pieces), knowing it has trace sugar and some preservatives.  A cheat.  I used to do eggs before I cut them out.
    • Up-scale, eclectic restaurants are great.  But they cost about two weeks worth of groceries.  However, they always make things exactly to order and very safe.  Plus delicious and exotic.  An absolute, real treat.
    • We’ve found some great things at a Spanish tapas bar and also at genuine Italian restaurants.
  • Many “finer” restaurants are beginning to appeal to nutritional rehabbers like us.  Charleston, SC had several.  They key on advertising as gluten-free/dairy-free.  If I can get a restaurant to guarantee “gluten-free/dairy-free”, I’m usually pretty comfortable ordering after a few questions.
  • Fast food and chains are troublesome.  Whip out your phone and pull up the allergen/nutrition pages for the restaurants.  Here’s a few to get you started.
    • Qdoba (Applesauce, guacamole, fajita vegetables–marginal due to “spice”, and pico de gallo are my go-to foods here.)
    • Subway (I didn’t do well with Subway.)
    • Chipotle
    • McDonald’s  (I guess if I have to eat here, it’ll be the 100% beef patty from a quarter pounder with lettuce and a side of apple slices.  Make sure the burger never touches a bun.  Better than starvation.  Maybe.)
    • Ruby Tuesday  I have read good reviews on other blogs regarding this restaurant for nutritional rehab people.  I looked at the allergen listings, and you have to go through it according to each “allergen.”  Kind of painstaking.
    • Outback  They have their menu marked with gluten-free items, and they also offer sides prepared seasoned as desired.
    • Red Robin I read to ask for it “protein style.”
    • Panera’s hidden menu

Fifth Question:  “What are you going to eat?”

  • In addition to the choices I mention above, steak, chicken or fish that looks as if you can request them made by themselves with no risky seasonings are ideal.  Even Italian restaurants usually offer grilled chicken or seafood.
  • Don’t just look at the entrees.  Peruse the whole menu, from appetizers to salads to entrees, looking for fresh cuts of meat.  MIX AND MATCH!!  At some restaurants, I see salmon on a salad but not as an entree.  If I ask, they never seem to mind serving me a plain salmon filet with a couple of sides of vegetables.  Or I see a meatball sandwich, which has meatballs just made out of ground beef and onion–so I ask if I can get some meatballs as a meal.
  • If a salad looks good, order double the offered meat to fill you up.  Request necessary changes to the salad (no cheese, croutons, nuts, etc).
  • Ask for a “double order” of vegetables.  Sometimes the waiter may look confused–just explain you want a side order of extra vegetables.
  • Most places will usually swap out the starch (rice or potato) for vegetables.

Sixth Question:  “Where are the hidden pitfalls?”

  • Make it very clear you can’t have gluten, dairy, soy, and whatever else you think is a priority for you this time out.  I hate to say I’m “allergic” (because I’m not), but I do say, “I have some questions…I can’t eat dairy, gluten, or soy because it makes me sick…I don’t want to get sick…I was thinking about the salmon filet–can it be made plain for me so I don’t have any reactions?”  I want the waiter to make sure to ask questions back in the kitchen and to communicate with the cook staff.  Often before they verify my order, they’ll go back and check things out.  I always appreciate that if there seems to be a dot of uncertainty.  And top words out of my mouth are usually, “Thank you, and I’m so sorry to be a pain.  I just don’t want to get sick.  Thank you so much for your help.”
  • Steaks are often grilled with butter.  Make sure and request no butter and no seasonings.
  • Cheap chicken can be injected with all kinds of reaction-forming stuff.  Try to verify it is a fresh breast, not frozen.
  • Make sure meats are not breaded and not made with fillers (sometimes ground beef is made with fillers).  Also, make sure eggs are only eggs–not a mix.
  • Vegetables, even steamed ones, are often made with butter.  Make it clear you can’t have butter.  JUST OIL, preferably olive oil.  No seasonings–unless they know exactly what they are.
  • Many seasoning mixes (such as pre-mixed taco seasonings) may have whey (dairy), maltodextrin (gluten potential), cornstarch, sugar, and many other negative items.  Here’s where you take the biggest gamble, I think.  I do the best I can to tell them, “No seasonings.  Just give it to me plain and boring.”
  • Salad dressings–ask them to bring you vinegar/lemons to juice and oil.  Better yet, bring your own mixture of favorite salad dressing or oil that you keep in a baby jar at home.  It’s great over salad, veggies, and meats.
  • Consider keeping/bringing your own baggie of sea salt, since the restaurant’s salt will likely contain dextrose.
  • Sauces such as gaucomole and salsa are not always safe.  Sometimes mixes (think–MSG, whey, sugar, and gums) are used to make these.
  • Watch sautéed mushrooms and onions if you can’t do dairy.  Always yummy if you can convince them to cook them up for you in olive oil!
  • Ask lots of questions.  This helps me to know how trusting I want to be.  If it gets too scary when I ask questions (and sometimes it does), I just ask for a glass of wine and leave it at that.
  • Skip gravy and sauces.

Last statement.  If none of these will work and you don’t want to risk it:

  1.  Eat well before you go.
  2.  Order a drink:  coffee, tea, or a glass of wine.  Sip it and enjoy the conversation.  Smile and laugh.  Have a good time.  That’s the most important thing anyway.
  3. Watch others eat and take pleasure in their enjoyment of foods that you know taste good–but will chew you up and spit you out without a casual glance backwards.  Think of it like a Rick Steves or Anthony Bourdain travel episode.  You can’t really partake in what they’re doing–but you like to watch it anyway.  Does this sound strange?  I really enjoy seeing how the food is plated.  How it smells.  And asking my dinner companion to tell me how it tastes.

Best wishes to you!  Hope your health is moving to where you want it to be!  Keep it up!  You can do it!–Terri

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!

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.