Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Spice Cookies and Hot Cider

I don't know about you all but we sure have been doing a lot of Christmas baking these days. The girls just love to roll out the dough and cut out Christmas cookie shapes! The cookies are fun to give away to Christmas carolers and friends. Today I wanted to share one of my newest creations for you to enjoy this holiday season.

Sort of like a sugar cookie, but with the addition of a few warming, sweet spices. I used my favorite cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon. The flavor reminds me of the red hot cinnamon candies that were a favorite of mine as a child. I added nutmeg and cloves, and then a little freshly ground star anise. You can also find the star anise in the bulk spice section of your local co-op.

To grind the anise, simply remove the seeds from the pod (the star) and grind in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle (I used the later). For a more intense anise flavor grind the whole star (pod and seeds) in a coffee grinder. The aroma is intoxicating and the flavor exotic. You can use it to make your own chai spice tea, or try making a stove top potpourri with water, orange peels, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise. Simmer on the stove during a holiday gathering or on Christmas eve and enjoy its sweet aroma wafting throughout your home.

Serve these delightful little cookies with hot mulled cider on a chilly winter afternoon. You can make a cookie glaze if you wish by mixing powdered sugar with a very small amount of non-dairy milk or water and a dash of vanilla. I used palm shortening in these cookies but organic unsalted butter would also work. The flour I buy from Authentic Foods in California. If you live on the east coast you may want to order it from the Gluten Free Mall.

Christmas Spice Cookies

1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
1 cup organic palm shortening or unsalted butter
1 cup maple sugar or coconut sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the dry ingredients into a bowl (rice flour through ground star anise). Whisk together.

In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the applesauce and vanilla and beat about 30 more seconds.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Sprinkle a clean, flat surface with a little four and roll out your dough until about 1/8 -inch of thickness.

Cut out with your favorite cookie cutter shapes. Place cookies onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Repeat this process with the remaining dough.

Enjoy cookies with a cup of freshly mulled hot cider. If you don't have any apple cider on hand then try using a container of organic apple juice. You know the kind in the large glass jars, the not-from-concentrate-type found at your local health food store or co-op. Basically you simmer apple cider on the stove with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, sliced fresh ginger, and a few orange slices for about 30 to 60 minutes. Strain and enjoy! The girls use the cinnamon sticks as straws to suck the warm cider up. Mmm.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Day Soup

Here in Bellingham, Washington the temperature has dropped and its snowing! In fact, the cold weather moved in last weekend and we had a little snow then and now its a beautiful winter wonderland!

I had to buy the babies some down buntings so they could go out and play in it. As soon as we set them on the front porch, all toasty warm in their new blue buntings, they crawled down off the porch and began crawling through the snow and eating it as their faces brushed up against high drifts (they both walk now but for some reason prefered to crawl in the snow). It was the funniest site to see, something the girls never did! They crawled all throughout the yard, making tracks in their wake.

What better than to relieve the cold chill in the air than a steaming bowl of hot soup! We have been enjoying the Winter Vegetable and White Bean Soup this week (recipe in the soup chapter of our book). It is chocked full of warming winter vegetables, such as, yams, delicata squash, potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, and cabbage. (We had a bumper crop of delicata squash this year in our garden so I have been making more squash recipes than usual this season.) The white beans (I used navy beans in this batch) add extra protein and fiber. The tomatoes add zing and balance the heavy flavors of the root vegetables. The large amounts of onions, shallots, and garlic add robust flavors and help keep your immune system functioning well. The herbs add a subtle complexity in flavor.

This soup is a favorite of most and we hope you enjoy it too! The recipe makes a large batch, which for our family only lasts 3 days. The root vegetables don't freeze too well so if you find you have extra, I 'll bet your friends would be happy to share it!

I have some new recipes to post, but this is the Holiday Season and we have been enjoying spending time with our children playing Christmas songs on our new piano, baking Christmas cookies, playing in the snow, or just cuddling up on the couch with a good book.

The boys will turn ONE YEAR this Friday! Hard to believe, it goes by so fast. I am going to create a recipe for a special first birthday cake, so stay tuned!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Spicy Butternut Squash Stew

The other night Tom began preparing dinner by making his favorite Quinoa Black Bean Salad (recipe in the cookbook). I usually like to serve it along side some steamed winter squash for a light meal. But it was chilly out and I was craving something a little denser, with more, salt, spice, and fat! I had a flash picture in my mind of what I wanted. I always try to keep ingredients stocked in my pantry so I can create a recipe on a whim. And luckily I had everything I needed.

Since Tom had everything prepped for the quinoa salad I asked him to peel the squash. While he was busy with that and the kids were all happily playing I began with the rest of the stew. I started cutting an onion. And then heated my large, heavy-bottomed (11-inch) stainless steel skillet over medium heat. I tossed in some whole cumin seeds and toasted them for about 60 seconds. Then added the oil and onion, more spices, some chopped jalapeno pepper, the chopped squash, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, and some sea salt and water. After it had simmered for a while the whole house smelled like a Mexican restaurant.

We all sat down to a candlelit dinner and enjoyed our simple, yet very satisfying meal of Quinoa Black Bean Salad and Spicy Butternut Squash Stew with sliced avocados on the side.

Spicy Butternut Squash Stew

2 to 3 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
one 14-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
sea salt to taste (2 teaspoons or so)

Heat a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast for about 60 seconds. Then add the olive oil and onions and saute for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, oregano, cinnamon, and jalapeno. Saute for a minute more. Then add the squash, tomatoes, water, and salt. Stir, then cover and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Taste and adjust salt or seasonings if necessary. Source:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks Recipes: Pumpkin Desserts

When it comes time for dessert how about celebrating the day with what's perfectly in season....pumpkins! I have a relatively new recipe to share with you that is super easy to prepare and always a crowd pleaser. A Pumpkin Spice Cake, cooked to perfection in a bundt pan.

Other great recipe ideas from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook include, my delicious vegan, gluten-free, soy-free Pumpkin Pie. Also, a simple Pumpkin Pudding made from tapioca pearls, maple syrup, and cashews (and a few spices). Or how about my Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies, those also have pumpkin in them. Mmm delicious, I just love pumpkin anything!

I normally don't bake things with a lot of sugar, but when creating this recipe my gut feeling was that it needed this amount. Be sure to have all of your ingredients at room temperature. If your shortening is too cold it won't cream with the sugar and pumpkin puree. And last but not least, please use an electric mixer. It will whip air into the batter resulting in a lighter cake.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks Recipes: Starchy Side Dishes

The past few years I have made a delicious, savory wild rice stuffing for the big Thanksgiving Day turkey. We always use half of it to stuff the turkey and the other half gets baked in a casserole dish. I have not had a recipe for this until today. I usually just toss it all together until it tastes just right.

While preparing this at our holiday cooking class last week, I had a number of people ask me for exact measurements, which I just could not give. So today, I dutifully measured every ingredient before I put them into the skillet. The end result was perfection. We enjoyed the stuffing as a main dish for dinner tonight along with the simple additions of braised kale, steamed green beans, and steamed fingerling potatoes.

During dinner we offered our 3-year old daughter some fingerling potatoes and she promptly replied that she doesn't eat fingers! I just had to share that little bit of 3-year old wisdom.

The stuffing can easily be made a day ahead of time for all of you who are super organized and like to plan. For those of you who are new to gluten-sensitivity, please remember that your Turkey is not gluten-free if it has bread (made with wheat) stuffing inside of it. If you are going to be attending another Thanksgiving dinner then you can suggest to have the cook use a rice stuffing or you may just need to enjoy some of the other side dishes that are naturally gluten-free.

Wild Rice Stuffing

A delicious, savory addition to your holiday table or to be enjoyed anytime! This recipe makes enough to stuff one turkey and fill one medium casserole dish.

1 cup wild rice
1 cup long grain brown rice
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped red onion
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 to 2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups chopped mushrooms
2 to 3 cups chopped celery
1 cup pecans
1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries
1 apple, diced (I used Honeycrisp)
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Herbamare or sea salt, to taste
In a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid, add the wild rice, brown rice, and stock. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Let stand in the pot for at least 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 or 6 minutes until softened. Then add herbs, mushrooms, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and add the pecans, cranberries, apple, and parsley. Stir in cooked rice. Add salt to taste.

Place some of the stuffing in the cavity of the turkey and the rest into a covered casserole dish. The stuffing can then be baked in a 350 degree oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.

When it comes to roasting the turkey, I usually layer onion slices, celery, and plenty of fresh herbs on the bottom of the pan just beneath the turkey. Then fill the pan with about 1/4 inch of water. These flavors infuse into the turkey and drippings during roasting for a rich, savory flavor. I also like to brine a turkey using salt, apple cider, and herbs. 

Don't be afraid of salt. I generously salt the top of the turkey with Herbamare, which is a flavorful herb-infused sea salt. A few dashes of olive oil and a handful of chopped herbs are sprinkled over the top for more flavor.

When it comes to making the gravy, the flavors are already full-bodied from the stuffing, celery and onions, herbs, and your generous amount of salt. It just needs to be thickened. I use arrowroot powder for this. Just mix it in a little water before adding it to the drippings. I use about 1 tablespoon arrowroot per 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of drippings. Whisk over medium-low heat until thickened and translucent.

Though freshly made mashed potatoes are naturally gluten-free, they often contain heavy amounts of dairy. For a lighter, dairy-free version, I leave some of the cooking water in the pot, then add Herbamare and extra virgin olive oil and beat with an electric mixer. My dad makes these with the addition of a full head of roasted garlic - delicious!

Stay tuned for desserts and tips for a safe Gluten-Free Thanksgiving!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving Thanks Recipes: Salads and Vegetables

What do you have to be thankful for? Family, friends, a warm house, a cozy fire, delicious food. There is so much to be grateful for, just stop and think about it for a minute.

This morning I slept in until 10am! Now that is something to be grateful for. The babies woke up an awful lot last night leaving me quite sleep deprived early this morning. Tom took all the kids downstairs and with the shades wide open and sun shining in I slept for an extra 2 1/2 hours!

After I finally awoke, I started down the stairs to join everyone who sounded to all be quite happy. I stopped midway to see the girls running back and forth in the hall squealing and giggling with delight. The babies were imitating them by crawling back and forth as fast as they could giggling as they went. It was quite a sight to see. I stood quiet for a while to get an uninterrupted glimpse. In that moment I felt grateful to see all of my children so happy and healthy playing together in the morning sunlight.

Thanksgiving, food, family, friends. How about sharing food that is gluten-free? We can all feel grateful about that. Grateful that our loved ones with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity can eat without becoming sick. Grateful that we can share food that is nourishing to all of us. Grateful for being healthy and alive.

This Thanksgiving Season I wanted to share with you a series of gluten-free recipes to bring to your upcoming feast. Please stay tuned in the days to come for more recipes, including a Wild Rice Stuffing, Pumpkin Spice Cake, and more!

The following salad recipe is something I created a few years ago. My friend Kathy invited me over to her house one day to watch how I prepared a meal with what was available. She was hungry to learn my kitchen wisdom and I was happy to share a meal with friends. She had bought a beautiful piece of salmon from Vis Seafoods and wanted to watch how I prepared it. That is where the Wild Salmon with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme was born (recipe in the cookbook). I checked out her refrigerator and pantry to see what she had available. I pulled out the fresh cranberries, shallots, oranges, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar and slowly a cranberry salad dressing evolved. We also cooked a pot of quinoa, steamed some broccoli, and toasted some nuts for the salad. Below is the salad we created that day. Please note: for this Thanksgiving recipe we are using candied walnuts in place of the hazelnuts (recipe below). Enjoy!

Pear and Hazelnut Salad with Creamy Cranberry Dressing (from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)Serve this salad when cranberries, pears, and hazelnuts are in season in autumn. It is also delicious served at a festive holiday meal.
Serves 4 to 6

Salad:1 head red leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn into pieces
1 firm ripe pear, cored and sliced thin
½ small red onion, sliced into thin rounds
1 cup raw hazelnuts, roasted
½ cup crumbled organic feta cheese, optional
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon sea salt or Herbamare

Place all of the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the 2 teaspoons olive oil and sliced shallots. Sauté shallots for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft. Add fresh cranberries and continue to sauté until the cranberries are soft and have “popped.”
Place shallot and cranberry mixture into a blender with the orange juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, orange zest, and sea salt. Blend on high until creamy. Add a few tablespoons of water for a thinner consistency and blend again.

Drizzle dressing over salad and serve immediately. Extra dressing can be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Candied Walnuts

These nuts are a delicious addition to any holiday salad. Or try putting some into little jars and giving them as gifts!

2 cups walnut halves
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch or two of sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place all ingredients into a baking dish (I use a 7 x 11-inch glass baking dish). Stir well with a spoon. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn.

As soon as they come out of the oven stir them up so the syrup sticks to the nuts and not the pan. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool.

The other day I was thinking about yams and what else I could do with them to dress them up for the holidays. I usually roast them in the oven with olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary. But I wanted something different, something fresh, a new creation. Below is a delicious recipe that you can bring to your holiday gathering. Just make sure you put the dried cranberries in toward the end of baking time. I didn't do this the first time I made this and the cranberries burned quite a bit. Happy Cooking!

Maple Roasted Yams with Pecans and Dried Cranberries

This recipe will be a delicious addition to your next holiday feast. If you do not have a sensitivity to dairy then try replacing the olive oil for organic butter.

2 large yams, peeled and diced
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all ingredient except cranberries in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Toss with a large spoon.

Bake for 30 minutes. Add the cranberries, lightly stir. Bake for 15 minutes more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chowder & Bread

This morning we awoke to a hearty layer of frost on the ground. It was a beautiful, sun-lit morning that beckoned me to go for a walk. As soon as Tom left to take the girls to school, I bundled the boys up in their fleece buntings and put them in the baby jogger. They fell asleep five minutes into the walk which left me time to daydream as I huffed and puffed that heavy jogger up and down the hills.

And where do you think my mind would wander to but food! Its not that I was hungry, we had all just been happily satisfied with a big batch of buckwheat pancakes. This was a new recipe I was dreaming up. Since buckwheat was fresh on my mind, I began to put together a recipe for buckwheat bread. Buckwheat has such a great nutrient profile, is alkalizing to the body, and research has shown that it is beneficial for balancing both blood sugar and cholesterol. It also has such a lovely texture, much different than other gluten-free flours. It is soft and stringy when mixed with water. I wondered how it would work as the base for a yeast bread. Cinnamon would be a nice addition, and how about pecans and raisins. Mmm. I had all of the amounts carefully planned out in my mind by the time we got back.

But first I had to make sure I had the chowder started. This is a recipe I created a few weeks ago. I have had a few requests for it recently so I thought I would post it for everyone to enjoy. I went to the co-op yesterday to do some shopping and saw some beautiful fresh, wild Alaskan halibut there so I bought about 1 1/2 pounds. If you don't have a sharp knife or don't like to mess with taking the skin off of fish it is best to have them do it when you are purchasing it. I removed the skin myself today, though sometimes I have it done.

This chowder doesn't have any dairy in it; it gets its creaminess from mashing the cooked potatoes with the back of a spoon.

Halibut and Potato Chowder

A warming stew, great served with freshly baked rolls and sautéed dark leafy greens.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 slices organic bacon (optional)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 to 2 teaspoons dried dill
2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
6 large red or yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or a combination of stock and water
1 to 2 pounds fresh halibut, skin removed and cut into 1-inch chunks
large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Herbamare and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft and starting to turn a little golden. Add bacon slices, garlic, and herbs. Sauté a minute or so more.

Then add diced carrots, celery, and potatoes; sauté a few minutes more. Then add stock and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Take a large spoon and mash some of the potatoes up against the side of the pot to make the chowder creamy.

Then add the halibut and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Remove bacon slices and discard. Add chopped parsley and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

After our chowder was done we sat out in the warm November sun, something rather unusual for the Pacific Northwest, and ate our chowder. Gracie was too busy playing to eat much, part of not sitting at the table for lunch. A 3-year old just can't really focus when there is so much to do and see outside! And then the bread was done and it was time to put the babies in the bath. All that crawling around in the dirt had made them into little dirt balls! When I brought them upstairs Tom was in his office working and said to me "what are you cooking that smells so good?" It was the bread of course. A warm, yeasty, cinnamon smell wafting though the house. Who needs aromatherapy when you have bread?!
4/2/09 - Please Note, I have removed my bread recipe from the blog in order to perfect it for my next cookbook!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quick Hummus Lunch

Today was house-cleaning day. Lily (6-years old) decided to make a chore chart and put our names next to what needed to get done. She put all of our names (including the babies) on clothespins to attach next to each chore. She decided that Ben (10 months old) would be her helper for the family room and toy clean-up. She soon realized that having him in the room was a bit more work than she had intended. Well, you can only imagine what happened.

Eventually the house did get clean and then it was lunchtime. While the girls were finishing up cleaning their room, I began to prepare lunch. It was 12:15 already and we were all hungry.

Since we were out all day yesterday I didn't have a chance to make the hummus. Remember the large pot of garbanzo beans I cooked on Friday?

Hummus is very fast to make and makes a great lunch. I have been making it for a long time now. I never use a recipe, just put everything into the food processor and every time it turns out just right. Everyone always loves my hummus and frequently asks for the recipe. Eventually I began measuring and created this recipe. You can also find it in print in The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and another Herb & Olive Oil Hummus variation in my Nourishing Meals cookbook

You can get pretty creative with hummus. Think Rosemary-Olive Hummus, or Roasted Garlic & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, or how about adding a little lemon zest and fresh parlsey to the batch. The options are endless.


Hummus is a traditional Middle-Eastern dish made from garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, and tahini. It makes an excellent dip for fresh vegetables or a great spread for sandwiches or wraps.

3 cups cooked garbanzo beans, or 2 cans
½ cup sesame tahini
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder or 2 to 3 cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt or Herbamare, or to taste
¼ cup bean cooking liquid or water to desired consistency

Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. You will want to taste the hummus to see if it needs more lemon, tahini, garlic, or salt. Also, add more water for a thinner consistency and process again. Hummus freezes very well. Source:

Also on the lunch menu was leftover quinoa, honeycrisp apple slices, and sliced persimmons. After our light and energizing lunch it was time to get outside.

Ahh, November, with its crisp fresh air and damp, spongy ground. It was a good day for gardening. The girls and I spent the later part of the afternoon preparing our garden beds for winter. Turning big, dry maple leaves into the beds in the front and pulling out old strawberry plants in the large bed in the back. We found ladybugs that had begun to hibernate in the roots of the plants. Worms and beetles were also among us in the damp soil. There is something soul-satisfying about working outside in the rich, wet earth. We all came in rosy-cheeked and covered in soil. Time for hot soup and rice. While we got cleaned up Tom began making a pot of brown jasmine rice and Red Lentil Dal (from our cookbook). I wanted something else to go along with our dal and rice, so I made a pot of curried vegetables. The warming spices felt just right on this chilly November evening.

After the babies and the girls were asleep, I made a batch of divinely delicious gluten-free brownies. That recipe to come in a later post. Goodnight!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Smoothies & Lettuce Wraps

Its Friday night and Tom is dutifully doing all the dishes so I can write. Yes its late, but our twins, now nearly 11 months old, have awoken twice already this evening. They are great at not sleeping, but somehow we survive on what little sleep we manage to get. I am hoping that by the time they turn a year we will have them sleeping at least a five hour stretch at night.

Stammering down the stairs this morning in a half asleep state all I could think about was water and a tall glass of green smoothie. You see, I nurse those babies all night long and am dehydrated by the morning. Nevermind that I have drunk all the water I had next to my bed during the night, I am thirsty in the morning.

We make a green smoothie nearly every morning with what we have available. This morning it was a tropical-tasting smoothie with banana and pineapple. A few months ago I bought a few pineapples and cut them into chunks and froze them. Today I used a handful of those frozen pineapple chunks, 2 small bananas, 1 large pear, 1 large apple, a chunk of ginger, and 1 Meyer lemon. I added a few cups of water and then blended it all up until smooth and then stuffed the Vita-Mix with as many fresh greens as could fit. I used spinach, collards, and parsley. Blend again until smooth. Drink up! My 3-year-old slammed down a whole glass faster than I did. Oh, hydration, its a wonderful thing!

While the babies were taking their morning nap, I managed to start a pot of garbanzo beans, make a pot of vegetable and leek soup stock, and make lettuce wraps for lunch. My 3-year-old daughter, Grace helped me by skimming the foam off of the boiling garbanzo beans. The white, frothy foam that rises to the top of a pot of cooking beans contains the indigestible starches that can cause your belly to get upset. Soaking your beans overnight, skimming the foam off of the top, and cooking with the seaweed, kombu, all help to make beans more digestible.

When I cook beans, I cook beans! That is to say, I don't just cook a small pot. I cook as much as can fit into my 8-quart stock pot. It is much easier to cook a large pot of beans and then freeze them in 2 or 3-cup containers for future use. In fact, the adzuki beans I used for the lettuce wraps today were in the freezer. All I needed to do was run the jar under hot water and place them into a pot to reheat. Easy!

The garbanzo beans I cooked today will be used for hummus tomorrow, some will be frozen, and some were used in the Fall Vegetable Stew I made for dinner tonight. Served it over quinoa with a green salad on the side. A warming autumn meal.

Lunch today: lettuce wraps, or shall I say lettuce tacos? The romaine lettuce I used was a little to small to be used as a "wrap" so it was a taco. I am often not in the mood for something heavy at lunchtime. I need something light and energizing to keep me going through the afternoon.

This recipe is from our cookbook in the Elimination Diet section in the appendix. Tom created it for Phases 1 and 2 of the diet.

This fall we took a group of 19 people through the diet with weekly cooking classes and meetings. During the first phase of the diet a friend of ours, who was doing the program, approached me and asked me to create recipes she could eat with sauces. She said "just give me sauces and I can eat anything." So I did, and during the next class, elimination diet sauces were born. Atop our brown jasmine rice, adzuki beans, and yam "wraps" comes a creamy, salty, slightly sweet, rich, green sauce made from pumpkin seed butter, coconut milk, fresh cilantro, Herbamare, raw garlic and ginger, and a little agave nectar. I don't have exact amounts for the sauce but I can give you estimates. Use your taste buds and intuitions to find the right balance of flavors. Add a little of this and a little of that, blend, taste, and adjust. Be creative, its simple.

Garlicky Green Sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup pumpkin seed butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
large handful of fresh cilantro
5 cloves garlic (start with less and add more as your tastes desire)
1/2-inch chunk of peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon raw agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon Herbamare
water (I think I used about 1/2 cup to 1 cup)

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add water to desired consistency. Add more salt to taste. Drizzle it over cooked grains, steamed veggies, chopped romaine lettuce.

After eating one lettuce "wrap" I decided to just throw the rice on the plate and top it with beans, steamed yams, and crispy chopped romaine lettuce and then smother it all with the Garlicky Green Sauce. Much easier to eat and make. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancakes

I just love fall. The colors, the bountiful harvest, the warm flavors....I could go on and on. This is my favorite season to cook and bake. You will often find, if you stop by our house around 5pm, a pot of vegetable-bean soup simmering on the stove along side a pot of steaming hot whole grains. And maybe, just maybe, a loaf of gluten-free bread in the oven.

Breakfast is another story all-together. When I was a child, either my mom or dad would make a big breakfast nearly every morning. It was either eggs, toast, and fruit, or pancakes and fruit. Sometimes we would have cold cereal but that was only exciting if on that rare occasion we would have a box of Marshmallow Rice Krispies in the cabinet. My brother and I would then eat the *whole* box in one sitting!

Breakfast has come a long way, well maybe not really that far, from what I was raised on. I love making pancakes. I frequently experiment on my girls to see just how much nutrition I can pack into those little hotcakes! Teff? Sorghum? Blueberries? Bananas? Ground nuts? Well, let's just say that they like it simple. Buckwheat pancakes with pure maple syrup, period. I can throw in a green smoothie on the side and call it done.

Since it is autumn, I thought it would be fitting to create a recipe for pumpkin pancakes. I made these lovely little orange-hued pancakes the other morning. And they were a winner! My girls loved them and asked for seconds. Yes! Success!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gluten-Free Snacks

If you are newly diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity then your belly may be growling in response to this huge shift in diet. You know, that blank stare into the fridge, the cabinets, the pantry, and gasp...even the freezer. I am hungry and what can I eat?

The early days and weeks may be challenging, but it will pass, and with time and knowledge you can jump into your kitchen and say yes, I can eat!

Snacks are truly wonderful in our home. They never last long though. I like to make at least a double batch of most recipes to ensure a few days supply.

A list of easy gluten-free (and also dairy-free) snacks:

  • Apple slices dipped in almond butter 
  • Organic turkey slices rolled up with baby spinach leaves and a touch of honey mustard (Annie's Naturals) 
  • Frozen organic cherries and blueberries (a favorite of our children) 
  • Rice Cakes spread with almond butter or pumpkin seed butter 
  • Mary's Gone Crackers dipped in Hummus 
  • Dried mangos and raw macadamia nuts 
  • Raw Energy Balls (recipe below) 

Raw Energy Balls (from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)

This is a great snack to take with you on a long hike or a long day at work. You can also add one to your child’s lunchbox for a sweet, nutritious treat.

1 cup raw almonds or walnuts
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
¼ cup raisins
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ cup raw almond butter

shredded organic coconut

In a food processor fitted with the “s” blade grind the almonds until finely ground. Add the dates, raisins, and spices. Grind to a fine meal. Add the almond butter, process again until thoroughly mixed.

Form into balls and roll in shredded coconut. Store in a sealed container on the counter for up to 3 days, or refrigerate for up to a week.

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