Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Coconut Aminos: A Natural Soy-Free Sauce

How many of you have tried Coconut Aminos? This delectably delicious soy-free sauce, containing 17 amino acids, is dark, rich, and salty. I am amazed at its resemblance to soy sauce. It is made simply from raw coconut tree sap and sun-dried sea salt, naturally aged of course.

We've used it in salad dressings, marinades, and as a seasoning for toasted nuts and seeds. Coconut Aminos have a salty flavor with a slightly, just barely, sweet aftertaste. They are great used as a dipping sauce for Nori Rolls!

The company that produces Coconut Aminos is called Coconut Secret. They also have a number of other coconut-based products including coconut vinegar, coconut nectar, coconut crystals, and coconut flour.

I buy Coconut Aminos here in Bellingham at our local Health Food Store, Terra Organica. I thought I would share two recipes using Coconut Aminos...some Toasted Sunflower Seeds with Coconut Aminos and a Garlic-Ginger Marinade! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nourishing Ourselves

I've sat down at the computer numerous times this past week, each time starting a new post. I have wonderful recipes with lovely photos to share but somehow I just wasn't inspired enough to follow through with them. Writing a blog post, or anything in my life for that matter, comes from some sort of deep seated inspiration. It's about sharing what's alive in me to light a spark in you.

Spring is here in all of its aliveness. We've been watching leaves change from a light, vibrant green to a more subdued, darker green. The ladybugs have come out of hibernation and my boys are fascinated by them. They go on daily, if not hourly, ladybug hunts through our herb garden, giggling with delight as the bugs crawl up there arms and fly away. All of the tulips in our garden beds are now in our house in vases. They simply don't stand a chance outside against my five year old daughter. "Look mama what I picked for you!" she calls to me.

Life is beautiful, and although this is a recipe blog, our lives are filled with so much more than food. Nourishing ourselves not only comes from what we put in our mouths but what we take in from our environment, the people around us, and our thoughts about it all. Life seems to be held in a delicate balance. Managing children, meals, cleaning, exercise, taking care of your own needs, and fun can be difficult to balance sometimes and at other times not so much. It all flows best when we are nourished.

But what does it mean to be nourished?

Tasting and feeling satisfied by wonderful, nutritious food is certainly a large part of it. Being able to properly digest and absorb your food is by far one of the most important aspects of nourishment. The health of our bodies lies in the health of our guts. Creating a healthy gut is a first step.

We are also nourished by filling up our senses with beautiful things, such as noticing the way the evening sunshine dances on the leaves or the sound of the spring rains pounding on the roof. A garden full of young, tender herbs. Sunflower seeds sprouting before your eyes. Apple trees blooming, bees buzzing. Noticing and breathing in the magnificence in your own back yard is nourishment. In fact, simply breathing deeply is nourishment.

Taking care of your own needs and exercising is nourishment. For if you didn't move your body, how would it function properly and get nutrients where they needed to go? Right now I am taking a yoga class twice a week and working out on other days, one of them with a personal trainer. I am also receiving Soma Bodywork once a week by a very skilled practitioner here in Bellingham. Years of breastfeeding and a few pregnancies compiled with sleep deprivation can disrupt the flow of energy in your physical and emotional bodies. Soma works to reintegrate your whole being at the neuromuscular level.

New experiences nourish us. Taking a new trail on your hike is a simple, new experience. Reading a new book, learning a new skill, cultivating a new friendship, even spring cleaning, would all be considered nourishment. Children's brains develop and grow through new experiences. But ours can too. It's never too late.

I receive emails each day called "Daily OM" and today's was entitled 'Gladdening Nourishment' which I thought was fitting as I pondered writing this post today. The first lines of the email were this: "Do something silly today, the pure act of being silly can reset our serious nature and help create the shift we need." Doing something silly is a new experience and new experiences can create new, neural pathways in the brain. Gosh, what a simple way to stay healthy. I need to take note, ha ha.

Another part of the email I wanted to share is this: "We play yet we do not lose ourselves in play, and our imaginations are never truly given free reign because we regard the products of irrational creativity as being valueless. Yet silliness itself does indeed constitute a vital part of human existence on a myriad of levels. Our first taste of ethereal bliss is often a consequence of our willingness to dabble in what we deem outrageous, nonsensical, or absurd. We delight in ridiculousness not only because laughter is intrinsically pleasurable, but also because it serves as a reminder that existence itself is fun."

What nourishes you?

A few other notes:
We have a winner for the Dairy-Free Cookbook giveaway I did last week. Please go back to that post and scroll to the bottom, I have updated it with the winner's name and comment. If you won, please email me your shipping address.

I have a cooking class at the Cordata co-op in Bellingham, WA coming up on May 3rd entitled "Wholesome Gluten-Free Baking" ~ more details on our website.

The Nutritionist is in: Tom Malterre, MS, CN will be available to discuss diet questions and concerns Free of charge with you at the Bellingham, WA Food Co-op on the following dates:
  • April 28th, 2010 at the Downtown store from 4:30 - 6:30pm
  • April 29th, 2010 at the Cordata store from 5 - 7pm

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dairy-Free Nacho Cheese Sauce

I am really excited to share with you today an amazing Dairy-Free Cookbook and Guidebook, Go Dairy Free, by Alisa Fleming! The fantastic nacho sauce recipe below comes from this book. I am also giving away a copy of the book, which will be sent to you directly from the author. Details at the bottom of the post.

This book is perfect for those of you looking for natural alternatives to your favorite dairy products, such as cheese, ice cream, milk, sour cream, and more. Go Dairy Free contains different recipes for each of those foods plus simple substitution ideas for practically all dairy products imaginable. From "Dairy-Free Fetta-ish to "Sunflower Seed Cheese to "Cashew Yogurt" to "Whipped Coconut Buttery Spread" to "Cashew Chai Frosting" this book has it all!

The book is about half recipes and half information on dairy. It starts out with "What is Dairy?" then moves into pasteurization and homogenization and the potential risks of these practices, and then on to evidence-based connections with dairy consumption and health issues which range from acne to cancer. Finally, if you are asking the question: "Where am I to get my calcium?" Alisa delves into non-dairy calcium-rich foods and other surprising secrets to strong bones. There are also chapters dedicated to dairy addiction, infants and food allergies, dining out, and reading food labels.

Go Dairy Free is a wonderful cookbook with so many great recipes. Most of the baking recipes contain gluten but the cheese alternatives are all gluten-free. I made macaroni and cheese today using the Orange Cheesy Sauce recipe from the book and Tinkyada rice noodles. My kids devoured it! Glad I got a photo before it was all gone!

The Five-Minute Nachos were equally delicious though my kids were not as fond of them. They did eat some though. Nachos are a funny thing for me because I have had them maybe only a handful of times during the course of my life. I just wasn't raised on highly processed foods. I was so happy to find this recipe in Alisa's book because it is made from healthy ingredients, all of which I had on hand. Well, except for roasted red bell peppers. I did have a few fresh ones in the fridge I so quickly roasted one in the oven. This ingredient is key! I initially made the sauce without it and it was so awful I had to compost it. Then I remade the sauce, added my freshly roasted pepper (after removing the skin), and voila - absolutely amazing dairy-free cheese sauce! Seriously, this sauce is addicting in a good way. My advice: follow her recipes exactly!

Dairy-Free Nacho Cheese Sauce adapted from the book, Go Dairy Free, by Alisa Fleming

You'll love this nutritious "cheese" sauce recipe! It is very quick to prepare and can be made into a meal when topped with black beans or shredded chicken, chopped cabbage, and sauteed vegetables. The tortilla chips in these photos are homemade. I use sprouted corn tortillas and slice them into quarters using a pizza cutter then toss them in avocado oil, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and Herbamare. I spread them into one layer on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. You'll want to turn them with a spatula one or two times during baking. Let them cool completely before using.

1/4 cup raw cashews
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (cashew, soy, or hemp)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or olive oil
2 ounces roasted red bell peppers
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Herbamare or sea salt

Optional Toppings:
sliced black olives
black beans
chopped cabbage

Place all ingredients into a blender fitted with a sharp blade or a Vita-Mix. Blend until super creamy. Pour into a small saucepan and whisk over medium heat until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before pouring using. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Pour over a plate of corn chips and top with your favorite toppings. Serve immediately. You could also stir into the sauce a can of diced green chiles if desired (the original recipe call for this).

**Note: To roast red bell peppers, place them into a baking dish or onto a cookie sheet. Roast in a preheated oven on "broil" until the skin is charred, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place into a bowl, cover with a plate, and let cool. Once cooled, the skin slides off easily and you can cut them in half and remove the seeds and stem. *One very small pepper is about 2 ounces, which is what is needed for this recipe.

Other resources by this author include the very popular Go Dairy Free website, her personal blog, One Frugal Foodie, and her new blog Dairy-Free Fitness.

Win a copy of Go Dairy Free!

To be entered in this drawing, please leave a comment below. Be sure to use your initials or some way of identifying yourself amongst everyone else. Anonymous comments need to be initialed please! And please only enter if you plan on checking back to see if you won. I will announce the winner here and in my next post. Drawing will be open until Monday, April 19th, 2010 at 9pm PST.

To enter more than once:
  • Tweet this post on Twitter and come back and leave another comment mentioning you did.
  • Share this post on Facebook and come back and leave a second or third comment mentioning you did.
Note: All comments are in moderation to avoid showing nasty spam comments with links to viagra and stuff like that. Your comment will be published when either Tom or I are at the computer and click "publish." Thanks for understanding! :)

This drawing is now CLOSED!

Update: And the WINNER is....Comment #126, drawn using random.org.

Here is the comment:
Lynn V. said...
"I was so excited to see this book that I sat at the bookseller for more than an hour writing down recipes (limited income). My grandson loves ice cream; it is difficult for both of us when I take him to dairy queen. Your cookbook is wonderfully helpful and I'm waiting for the new one. I love the generous way you share recipes and resources."
April 17, 2010 7:19 PM

Lynn V., could you please email me your mailing address? Thanks everyone for entering your comments into this great giveaway!

To answer the comments about yeast containing glutamates: Yes, yeast does contain glutamates. In fact, most foods rich in proteins do. Glutamic Acid (Glutamate) is an amino acid. Sequences of amino acids make up proteins. Therefore, foods that are rich in proteins such as meats, poultry, fish, eggs, yeasts, kombu, and dairy products are rich in glutamates.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Garlic-Rosemary White Bean Dip on Gluten-Free Baguette

The other day a wonderful friend came to visit us from Seattle along with her children. She brought a spread of beautiful, delicious food to share. I also cooked up a lovely white bean, olive, tomato pasta sauce to go over noodles. I had plenty of leftover white beans in the pot which I wasn't sure yet what to do with. Well, my friend suggested I make a white bean dip.

And so I did.

We have been enjoying it spread over slices of a crusty whole grain, gluten-free baguette that I have been making. My kids beg me to make this recipe almost daily now. It is a kneadable, gluten-free, vegan yeast bread I developed with very little starch and only a smidgen of xanthan gum. It is moist and dense with a flavor and that resembles 100% wheat bread. Hint: it will be in my next book.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chicken & Wild Rice Salad with Tangerines & Hazelnuts

This simple grain salad is something I like to make when I cook a whole chicken for soup. I will save some of the breast meat for enchiladas or salads like this one. Now, if you are vegan please read on to see what I do to make this salad sans meat.

First off let me say that this recipe is really for me, my kids don't like it. Ahh, it's all mixed together! That said, my boys, 2 years, are still young enough to eat anything; their palettes are not as discerning as my 5 and 8-year old daughters are. So yes, they will eat some but not much. My best bet is to leave all of the ingredients separate: salad greens, plain wild rice, chicken, hazelnuts, and tangerines in separate groups on a plate. They love it all this way! And since Tom is vegan, has been for 29 years, I make a double batch of the salad and put chicken in half and garbanzo beans in the other half.

I really enjoy the sustainable energy from this super nutritious grain salad, especially after a long morning workout. It keeps me going all afternoon! Wild rice is high in protein and fiber and has a simply delicious, nutty flavor. Combined with tangerines, chicken, hazelnuts, and green onions, you have yourself a balanced lunch!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls (Gluten-free, Egg-Free, Vegan, Yeast-Free)

Since Easter is fast-appraoching I thought you might like a recipe for healthy gluten-free cinnamon rolls. I grew up eating homemade cinnamon rolls nearly every Christmas and Easter morning. The yeasty smell of rising rolls filling every nook and cranny of the house is a memory hard-forgotten. This was probably one of my favorite foods growing up. Luckily I watched and learned how to make cinnamon rolls over the years from my mother.

This recipe uses freshly ground buckwheat flour, which has a mild, light buckwheat-y flavor. The two main wet ingredients used are applesauce and cooked sweet potatoes which provide moisture and sweetness. This recipe doesn't require any xanthan gum, nuts, or seeds. Nor does it require any dairy-free milks. I wanted to keep the glycemic index lower and keep the recipe whole foods-based. I have not figured out how to make it without any starch (I use some tapioca flour), but if anyone does, please let me know.

I created a frosting recipe which reminds me of the Cinnabon frosting. Remember those huge rolls laced with a ton of sugar and fat and who knows what else? I can't even begin to imagine eating one now but this frosting does bring me back, with no ill side effects!

My children love these rolls. In fact, when I make them, the whole batch usually disappears before they cool. I just love knowing that they are eating all of this buckwheat-y goodness! Did you know that buckwheat is a fruit seed and not actually a grain? Though we use it much like other grains. I grind raw buckwheat groats into a fine flour in minutes using my Vitamix. You can also use a coffee grinder and do it in batches. 3 cups of buckwheat groats equals 4 cups of flour. You'll need a little extra so be sure to grind enough.

Health Benefits of Buckwheat:
  • It is naturally gluten-free.
  • Buckwheat maintains blood glucose levels and has been shown to be beneficial for diabetics.
  • Research has shown that buckwheat can help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Buckwheat is high in the flavonoid, rutin, which helps to prevent disease through its antioxidant effect.
  • Buckwheat is a rich source for magnesium (so are beans and nuts). Magnesium acts as a cofactor for over 300 enzymes in the human body! All reactions that involve ATP (the energy currency of our cells) depend on magnesium. Got magnesium?