Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pepper-Mint Dressing & Marinade

Today I thought I would share something simple. A salad dressing recipe made from fresh spearmint and black peppercorns. Hence the name, Pepper-Mint (not to be confused with peppermint). Use it on your favorite salad or use it to marinate chicken or fish. This dressing is vinegar-free and fits right into our guidelines for Phase 3 of the Elimination Diet.

Fresh spearmint can be found at your local food co-op or health food store (or growing wild in your garden if you didn't contain the roots like me)! We pulled most of the mint out of our garden last year because it was taking over. Though I do have a few plants creeping up in the herb garden right now.

Pepper-Mint Dressing & Marinade

This lemony, peppery, garlicky, minty salad dressing is fantastic (or shall I say addicting) over crisp romaine lettuce topped with toasted pine nuts, green onions, and shredded carrots. Use it during Phase 3 of the Elimination Diet to marinate cubed chicken. Marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator then saute. There are so many ways to use this dressing, I look forward to hearing your ideas too! Enjoy!

1/2 cup packed fresh spearmint leaves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small shallot (optional)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients except for olive oil to a blender. Blend on high until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, blend on low speed until just incorporated. Pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Bring to room temp before serving.

Note: I usually only use the shallot if I am using this recipe as a marinade for fish or chicken. It isn't really necessary for a salad dressing. Source:

Other Dressings and Condiments you might like:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cream of Broccoli Soup (Dairy-Free)

I have a very simple, nourishing recipe for you today. Anyone remember cream of broccoli soup from your childhood? I do. My mom used to make a cheesy cream of broccoli soup that I don't remember being too fond of. Well this one is yummy, and naturally gluten and dairy-free. It can also be used during Phase 3 of the Elimination Diet for testing nuts/almonds.

Many years ago I discovered that I could use nuts to replace the cream in "creamed soups." You'll notice raw cashews in my Creamy Cauliflower Soup recipe in our cookbook (a favorite of my children). Cashew butter, almond butter, and coconut milk also work to make soup creamy without using dairy. A few weeks ago I discovered another secret "cream" for soup ~ blanched almond flour! I added it to the simmering soup before pureeing and voila! Cream Soup! 

Each time I make this soup it turns out a little different. Sometimes thick, sometimes thin. It all depends on how many pounds of broccoli you use, how much liquid, and of course the amount of blanched almond flour. Now, I bet that many of you don't have this super tasty and nutritious flour sitting around, huh? I bet you could also use blanched almonds, maybe 1 1/2 to 2 cups. Just toss them into the simmering soup whole. You are going to blend it all up anyways.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Harvesting Nettles with Children.....

Nettles you say? You mean those pesky weeds that that grow like wildfire and sting me if I get too close? Yep. These little plants are a powerhouse of nutrients! Once cooked, blended, or dehydrated they lose their "sting." Nettle season varies each year but since this winter has been particularly warm and sunny here in the Pacific Northwest, it is already here! If you are following the Elimination Diet then adding in fresh nettles to all phases will help in the healing and detoxification process.

The other day the kids and I were out for a walk on the trails by our house when we came upon our favorite nettle stand! It was full of nettles ready to be picked. You see, nettles are best harvested when they are young and only a few inches high. All of the nutrients are going to the leaves at this time, instead of say, in the summer, when the energy of the plant is going to seed production. Anyways, I called Tom on my cell phone and asked him to drive up and meet me at the trailhead with a few pairs of scissors, bags, gardening gloves, and my camera.

Harvesting nettles is not just for adults. Young children can participate too! We've been harvesting nettles for as long as I can remember. Babies and one-year-olds can ride in a sling or backpack. 2 year olds can play and run about while you do your work. 3 year olds can help and play. Once my girls were 4 years old they were both really interested in doing all of the harvesting. On our most recent excursion, the boys (2 years old) ran around, put extra gloves on, then darted down the trail as far and as fast as they could go. They did eventually come back (and slept very well after that)!

What about potential nettle stings? Well, I think it is all about how you approach it. For us, nettles are viewed as nourishing, wonderful plants that do posses a risk for stinging. I tell them it isn't a big deal and it will go away soon enough. All of my kids seem to get a few stings at every harvest but brush it off and keep on going. The boys even fell into a nettle patch the other day, then looked at me holding their hands up while making little grunting sounds. I said "Oh I see, it looks like you have a few nettle stings, yep that can happen" and off they ran. Still, it is best to educate your children so they tread lightly through the nettle patch. This teaches patience and respect for the environment around them. Wearing gloves and thick pants is best, though as you see from these photos my daughter was wearing a skirt and tights. Since the nettles were still so small it wasn't as much of an issue.

What do you do with your nettles? Well, we dehydrate them to use for tea throughout the year. I simply place the whole plant in the dehydrator. Once dried, I pack them into the food processor and process until finely ground. I then pour the ground, dried nettles into glass mason jars. You can also use fresh nettles in green smoothies (this is my favorite), in lasagna, soup, or sauteed with garlic and olive oil. Really, the options are endless. Just don't add them to a salad, they only lose their "sting" when blended, cooked, or dehydrated.

What are the health benefits of consuming nettles?
  • Nettles are a blood-building herb, being high in iron, calcium, trace minerals, protein, and chlorophyll, they are very beneficial for the anemic person.
  • Being mildly diuretic and rich in minerals, nettles help to stimulate breast milk production after delivery.1
  • Nettles may be used as a treatment for hayfever.2
  • Nettles are stimulating and cleansing to the liver, kidneys, and bladder.3
  • They taste good. Sort of like spinach some say.

How do you harvest them? The best method, so the plant can keep growing, is to cut the stem just after the second set of basal leaves. This doesn't always happen when young children are involved, but remember it is a learning process for them. If you live in the Midwest or East Coast your nettle season may not come around for another few months. Nettles like nitrogen-rich, moist soil so look for a place with a lot of decaying organic matter.

I'll be posting recipes using nettles soon, like lasagna and soup. In the meantime, get out and enjoy the beautiful sunshine and go on a nettle hunt with your children!

If you are an Herbalist or someone who has a lot of knowledge in herbology, please leave a comment and add anything I might be missing here, thanks! :)


  1. Gladstar R. Herbal Healing for Women. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993, 177.
  2. Mittman P. Randomized double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica diocia in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med 1990;56:44–7.
  3. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 216–7.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oatmeal Heart Cookies (gluten-free + vegan)

I just couldn't let Valentine's Day go by this year without making heart cut-out cookies with my children. I did it every year with my mom and have created it to be a tradition with my children now. This year I have created a new cut-out cookie recipe. A delicious, heart-healthy, gluten-free cookie made from rolled oats. This is a no-fail cookie recipe. No matter how much the dough is handled by little hands, the cookies are still perfect. As you can see below, the little hands really like to help......

This recipe is made in a food processor which make the whole process take less than 10 minutes to prepare. My 7-year old daughter made these the other night to share with her class for their Valentine's celebration. She thought they were very simple and said that her friends all like them except for one boy. :)

The dough may or may not need to be chilled depending on how solid your coconut oil is. If it is soft you will need to chill the dough for 20 to 30 minutes. If the oil is very hard then no need to chill the dough. You'll know by the way it forms a ball. If the dough is soft and doesn't form a ball when handled then it needs to be chilled. Also, you can make the dough ahead of time, cover, and chill until needed. You'll want to let it sit at room temp until it is soft enough to be rolled.

The kids have been really busy making Valentines. I cut out plenty of red hearts for my 2-year old twin boys to decorate. They worked hard with their crayons and stamps while my daughters used everything fancy and frilly to create theirs.

Oatmeal Heart Cut-Out Cookies

I created this recipe without xanthan gum and it worked beautifully. The binding action comes from the arrowroot and the oats. I think there are many possibilities to modify this recipe. For example, I bet adding one tablespoon of ground cinnamon to the dough would be delicious! Or dust each heart with cinnamon before baking. For those chocolate lovers out there, the cookies can be dipped in a chocolate glaze. I like them better plain, but you decide. Since this is a newer recipe, I'd sure love to hear your feedback if you make them. :)

Note: Please view the post we did on Links to Products we Use for specific info on our favorite brands of gluten-free oats, arrowroot, coconut sugar, etc.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Dry Ingredients:
3 cups GF rolled oats
3/4 cup coconut sugar or another granulated sugar
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the dry ingredients into a food processor fitted with the "s" blade. Process until very finely ground (not as fine as oat flour, still a little coarse).

Add wet ingredients, process until the mixture forms a cohesive ball. It may take a few minutes but it will happen. Pulse the processor if needed.

Remove dough, finish forming into a ball with your hands. Chill the dough if it is too soft for 20 to 30 minutes. Then place on parchment or waxed paper for rolling. Roll out dough. Cut into heart shapes with a cookie cutter.

Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 15 to 16 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Dip in a glaze made from about 3 ounces dark chocolate, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, and 1 tablespoon sweetener. (Melted and whisked together over low heat). Enjoy! Source:

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day! -Ali, Tom, and family! :)

More sweet treats:

Sweet treats from other bloggers:
Marble Cake made with white beans from The Spunky Coconut

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mango-Coconut Pudding

I know Valentine's day is right around the corner, but instead of adding to the plethora of chocolate recipes floating around in cyber-space, I thought I would share a non-caffeinated dessert suitable for little children. This recipe also happens to be in compliance with the Phase 1 guidelines for the Elimination Diet.

This smooth, creamy and slightly sweet pudding is dairy-free. I was inspired by a mango pudding recipe found in the the current issue of Eating Well. This issue has a great article on mangos including photos of how to properly peel and cut a mango. The recipe below is a twist on the Cherry-Apple Pudding recipe found in our cookbook and one found in Eating Well. The secret ingredient? Kudzu! How many of you have heard of or used kudzu before? It has wonderful thickening and gelling properties and is very soothing and healing to the gut.

You can find Kudzu in the bulk spice section at your local health food store. It is quite expensive per pound but you will only need a few tablespoons. It comes in little white powdery chunks and can be tricky to measure sometimes. For the 6 tablespoons needed in this recipe, use a 1/4 cup measure and level off then measure 2 more tablespoons.

Mango-Coconut Pudding

You can use either fresh or frozen mangos in this recipe. You'll need about 5 large, fresh mangos or two 10-ounce frozen bags plus another fresh one for the topping. This recipe makes about six servings. Note: if you are following the Elimination Diet, use non-alcoholic vanilla. Enjoy!

6 tablespoons kudzu
1/2 cup water
4 cups diced fresh mango (or frozen)
1 can coconut milk (1 2/3 cup)
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons vanilla

diced fresh mango
shredded, unsweetened coconut

Place the kudzu and water in a 3-quart saucepan. Whisk together so that the kudzu dissolves. The kudzu needs to be dissolved before heating so whisk again just before adding the remaining ingredients.

In a blender, add the mango, coconut milk, and sweetener. Blend on high until very smooth and creamy.

Pour into the saucepan with the dissolved kudzu. Turn heat to med-high. Whisk constantly until it boils then reduce heat to low and simmer while whisking for about 6 to 10 minutes. You'll notice the color change from a creamy yellow to an egg-yolk yellow indicating that it is about ready to be removed from the heat. Whisk in vanilla and remove from heat.

Pour or ladle into six small bowls and place into the refrigerator to set. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. Top with diced fresh mango and shredded coconut. Serve and enjoy! Source:

More Sugar-Free Sweet Treats:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spicy Thai Mung Bean Burgers

What would be nice to warm up with on a chilly winter day? Spicy, hot peppers, ginger, and garlic! I created this vegetarian burger recipe to test for nightshades during Phase 3 of the Elimination Diet, though everyone can enjoy this flavor-packed recipe! When I first made them, Tom said "Wow Al, these are amazing!" I enticed him with a taste while he was working in the home office. Not soon after, he was in the kitchen scrambling around for more.

They are fantastic if placed into a "natural burger bun" such as Napa cabbage leaves or romaine lettuce leaves. Combined with sliced avocado, sprouts, and my spicy coconut cream, these burgers are a crowd pleaser. Though I have to admit my girls won't eat them. My twin toddler boys who will eat just about anything I put in front of them like these to a certain extent but they are not crazy about them. This is one of the few recipes I have posted on this site that is not kid-friendly. I guess it is probably my liberal use of spicy ingredients.

Above Photo: Cooked Mung beans draining in a colander.

Our Elimination Diet Book states to test nightshades as a group. You can do this or choose to test each individually waiting 3 days in between each food. Tom usually varies the Elimination Diet for each person based on their case history. For those with various health conditions, it is better to test each food individually to be able to accurately identify the food that is causing problems. However, if you feel healthy already and would like to do the diet to give yourself more insight into the food you consume and its relation to your well-being, then the general plan in our book will be just fine.

Spicy Thai Mung Bean Burgers

If you are following our Elimination Diet then you may already have a container of cooked mung beans in your fridge. If not, refer to the bean cooking guide on page 180 of our Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. Mung beans take about 45 to 60 minutes to cook on the stovetop and about 10 minutes to cook in the pressure-cooker. Make sure you drain them very well before using in this recipe. The burgers won't work if there is too much liquid added. When cooking your quinoa cook 1 cup with 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of water so it is on the drier side. This will help the burgers hold together. And lastly, be sure all of your ingredients are either cool or at room temp before making this recipe.

Yield: 6 burgers

small handful fresh cilantro
4 green onions, ends trimmed
2 hot peppers (1 cherry bomb, 1 jalapeno), seeded
3 cloves garlic
1 small piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups cooked mung beans, drained well
2 cups cooked quinoa

Burger Toppings:
sliced avocado
Spicy Pepper Coconut Cream (recipe to come soon)

Using a food processor fitted with the "s" blade process all ingredients except mung beans and quinoa until finely minced. Add mung beans and quinoa and process again until mixture comes together and forms a ball.

With slightly oiled hands, shape into six patties. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil. Cook patties for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

Serve each burger inside two napa cabbage leaves with your favorite toppings. Source:

If you are looking for a healthy Elimination Diet, Phase 2-friendly dessert recipe then check out this awesome Apple Pie created by Iris of the Daily Diet Tribe!

Next Tuesday, the 16th, Tom will be giving a very informative Vitamin D talk at our local food co-op. Class info below:

Vitamin D
with Tom Malterre, MS, CN
Tuesday, February 16, 6-8 pm
Cordata Co-op /register at Co-op
$5 members,$6 non-members

More Yummy and Healthy Main Dish Recipes:
(not all Elimination Diet recipes)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Apple-Cinnamon Teff Pancakes

I'm going to take another quick break from posting Elimination Diet recipes and share a favorite gluten-free, dairy-free pancake recipe with you. You all probably know how much I adore teff, right? I have many teff recipes on this blog that you can browse through. This lovely, warming pancake recipe is a spin off my vegan Teff Banana Pancakes. There are a few differences, mainly that I am using eggs in this recipe and replacing mashed banana with applesauce.

I buy my teff flour in 25 pound paper bags from Azure Standard. The company that makes the teff flour is called The Teff Company. 25 pounds costs me $38 ~ which is really a fantastic price if you compare the cost of one small bag of teff flour from the co-op.

For those of you who don't like to add any starch to gluten-free recipes you can make this recipe without tapioca flour, however, the end result is a bit crumbly. You can easily make gluten-free pancakes and waffles without xanthan gum, but leaving out the starch as well makes things a little tricky. My kids normally like this recipe, but when I replaced the tapioca flour with an extra 1/2 cup of teff flour they didn't really eat them stating that they couldn't use a fork and "they're too crumbly mom, what did you do to them!"

Apple-Cinnamon Teff Pancakes

This recipe makes about ten 6 to 7-inch pancakes, enough to feed my four hungry children in the morning with a few extras for leftovers. You can easily cut this recipe in half for smaller families. If you want to make these egg-free then follow the recipe for Teff Banana Pancakes and replace the banana with applesauce, remembering to add the cinnamon. I made a simple apple-cinnamon topping for these by simmering one sliced apple in a little water with a few dashes of maple syrup and ground cinnamon for about 10 minutes. You can follow an exact recipe for this topping here. Enjoy! :)

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups dark brown teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
2 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large organic eggs
3 tablespoons melted virgin coconut oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (Grade B)

Begin to heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. (You may need to adjust the temp for cooking). I melt the coconut oil in here while I mix the dry ingredients. Measure it after it as melted.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients. Whisk together well.

Make sure your pan still has a little coconut oil on the bottom (just a little). Use a 1/2 cup measure to pour the batter into the pan. Cook for 60 to 90 seconds on one side, then flip and cook for 30 to 60 seconds on the second side. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of oil in between pancakes. Adjust the cooking temp as needed. I cook mine just under medium. Source:

More Pancake & Waffle Recipes:

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