Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Raw Kale Avocado Salad

The Farmer's Market was bursting with luscious dark leafy greens on Saturday. I couldn't help but buy at least one bunch of every variety of kale! I made this raw kale salad tonight and my children devoured it. They are accustomed to eating many different types of greens, but for a child who isn't, below are a few tips.

Tips for adding more variety, vegetables, and greens to your child's diet:
  • Make sure your children are hungry and have not been snacking all afternoon or evening; hungry children are more likely to try and eat new foods.
  • Serve the new vegetable or salad first. This is especially true for a young child between 2 and 4 years of age.
  • Sit down as a family and talk about everything but the meal. Focusing on the food can lead to food battles. 
  • Suggest a "try-it-bite" for a child who seems really uncomfortable about trying something new. They may spit it out and that is okay. Sometimes it can take 10 "try-it-bites" over a series of weeks for a child to accept a new food. 
  • Start early! As soon as you have introduced citrus to your toddler's diet offer them a plate of this salad. A one year old won't digest much of it but will gain so much in the way of programming his or her taste buds to accept these types of foods. We put salad greens on our twin's plates by the time they were twelve months old and now they beg for salads at three years old! 
  • Young children learn how to eat and what to eat by watching the adults and caregivers around them. This starts from infancy on. 
My new cookbook as a large chapter devoted to raising healthy eaters, beginning from conception on. These are just a few of the tips on mealtimes with children. I know many of you keep asking when the new book will be available for pre-order. I expected that it would have been ready by now but it is not. I don't have the long focused hours now like I had with my first cookbook. Being pregnant and having four children makes it a little more challenging. It will be done when it is done, that is all I can say. It is close, the recipes are done, but I am still finishing up the content in the beginning. I am confident that you will love it though!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fish Tacos from Kauai

Tom and I returned home from Kauai yesterday. We had a wonderful vacation without children this time. They had plenty of fun at home with grandma though! This post is more than a recipe. In fact, after I learned more about mercury levels in Hawaiian fish, I debated posting this at all. But we all make mistakes, and I want to share what I have learned.

When we were packing for our trip I decided to bring a bag of each brown rice, quinoa, pink beans, and raw almonds. I also packed some almond butter, Herbamare, cumin, and our Vita-Mix. Food is much more expensive over there because everything needs to be shipped in. Relying on all of the local foods and the few things we packed, we were able to prepare amazing, nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while lessoning our impact on the environment. There is a farmer's market everyday on the island. You just need to be sure that the farmers you buy from are using organic farming methods, as GMO's are prevalent in non-organic papaya crops in particular. Most of the meals we ate were vegan, and many were mostly raw or raw. One evening we went to the local fish market to purchase fish for tacos. We bought opah, commonly known as moonfish. It is a deepwater fish native to Hawaii. We made a lovely meal, that we shared with a friend, of fish tacos, quinoa salad, and for dessert a raw macadamia nut-papaya custard. Everything was local except for the corn tortillas, quinoa, cumin, and the coconut oil used for sauteeing the fish.

After eating this meal two days in a row, I had the thought to check one of the fish lists for safety of consuming opah while pregnant. Sure enough, it is on the avoid list if pregnant and "consume no more than one serving a month" for adults. Luckily I never consume fish with elevated levels of mercury so I don't feel this will pose a significant problem. Mercury in fish damages brain tissue, especially in developing fetuses, infants, and young children. It also damages heart tissue in adults and male reproductive organs and sperm. Two-thirds of mercury in our environment comes from coal-burning power plants, and a significant amount comes from medical and municipal waste. Microorganisms convert elemental mercury to methylmercury, a toxic form of mercury that our bodies cannot get rid of. It first accumulates in microorganisms at the bottom of the food chain and then moves up the food chain ultimately reaching the highest levels in predatory fish (tuna, shark, king mackerel, swordfish, opah, ono). Interestingly, through my research I also learned that opah, like tuna and other deep water fish, are caught by longline fish practices, a type of fishing that places thousands of hooks on a long line. This practice kills many sea birds and other marine creatures, such as sharks, dolphins, and sea turtles in the process.

Mercury in our food supply is a significant issue. When new scientific findings were released that canned tuna contained very high levels of mercury, the EPA downplayed the findings (the tuna industry is big, think lobbying, and the effect on the economy with a large drop of tuna consumption). You'll still see canned tuna on some of the "safe to eat lists" though in reality, it is not safe at all for pregnant women, children, or women of child-bearing age to consume. In fact, children can receive doses of mercury four times the acceptable level by eating six ounces of tuna a week! More info on mercury in fish can be found on websites such as EWG.org. Mercury has also been found in high-fructose corn syrup and therefore also in commercial foods that contain this ingredient, such as snack bars, barbecue sauce, jelly, yogurt, and chocolate syrup. What are we doing to our environment that we can't rely anymore on local food supplies? And why is it "ok" to inject mercury though a vaccine into a newborn baby? We are the cause of many of the problems ailing us today, and we are also the solution. Hopefully this post brings to light some of the issues that can be changed when we focus on human health and the health of our planet instead of the almighty dollar.

Fish Tacos

For a list of safe fish to consume check out this downloadable PDF from GreenAmerica.org or the Smart Seafood Guide 2010 by the Food and Water Watch. This recipe for fish tacos can be made with many of the fish on the safe list. When we make fish tacos at home, we use wild Alaskan salmon. Pictured here is also a fresh salsa that Tom made a few nights in a row (to go with our beans and rice). It is made from tomatoes, avocado, papaya, onions, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and Hawaiian hot chili peppers. Or try serving them with this Papaya Salsa Recipe. We also like to serve fish tacos with thinly sliced napa cabbage and homemade guacamole.

1 1/2 to 2 pounds "safe" fish, skinned and cut into chunks
2 large limes, juiced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 Hawaiian hot chili peppers or 1 to 2 jalapenos
1 to 2 teaspoons cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons Herbamare
coconut oil for sauteeing

Other Ingredients:
sprouted corn tortillas
sliced napa cabbage

It is much easier to have the fish skinned when you are purchasing it, otherwise you will need a very sharp knife and some skill. Place the chunks of fish (I usually cut it into 1 to 2-inch cubes) into a shallow baking dish, such as an 8 x 8-inch pan. Place the remaining ingredients (lime juice through Herbamare) into a blender and blend for 30 to 60 seconds. Pour marinade over fish. Marinate for about an hour.

To cook the fish, heat a large heavy-bottomed, stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Let the pan heat up for a few minutes, then add about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Add the fish, start with 1/3 to 1/2 the fish if your skillet is smaller (say 10-inches). If you add too much fish at once to a skillet, it is not able to sear and retain its liquid, therefore drying out quickly. You'll notice a bit of water at the bottom of the pan if you add too much at once. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. Remove from the skillet, add a little more oil, and then cook the remaining fish.

Serve with corn tortillas, salsa, guacamole, sprouts, and thinly sliced napa cabbage.

Here is a pregnancy shot of me in Kauai, overlooking Ke'e beach on the north shore.

More Main Dish Recipes:
Spicy Summer Black Bean Salad
Thai Fresh Green Curry
Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Figs and Sweet Onions

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Gluten-Free, Egg-Free Corn Muffins

We've been experiencing a rather cold, rainy spring here in the pacific northwest so the other night I made a big pot of vegetarian chili. It would not have been complete without a batch of warm corn muffins. Our family enjoyed these so much that I decided to share them with you. I needed to make another batch yesterday just so I could get some photos.

Ground golden flax seeds

The muffins are of course gluten-free, as well as egg-free, dairy-free, and xanthan-free....and still full of so much flavor! I also use flax meal to help bind them together instead of any gums, such as xanthan gum. I grind golden flax seeds in the dry container of my Vita-Mix but a coffee grinder works equally as well. Store any remaining ground seeds in a glass jar for up to a week in your refrigerator. I like to use golden flax seeds when making a lighter colored muffin or bread recipes but you could also use the darker variety if that is what you have on hand.

Vegan Corn Muffins

Serve these perfectly tender and mildly sweet corn muffins with your favorite chili recipe or another bean and vegetable soup. I like to use Arrowhead Mills brand of cornmeal in this recipe because it is both gluten-free and organic.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup ground golden flax seeds
1/2 cup hot water
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.

Place the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the ground flax seeds and hot water. Let them rest for about 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Then add the coconut sugar, oil, and applesauce and whisk again until incorporated. Add the milk and whisk again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk batter together for a minute or two. The batter should be a little stringy and on the thicker side.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. You will fill each muffin cup to the top. I use a stone muffin pan from Pampered Chef. I don't like using any sort of non-stick cookware or bakeware. Everything I bake cooks evenly and comes out without sticking in the stone pans. These are worth the small investment! Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Run a knife around each muffin to gently release. Cool on a wire rack. Source: www.NourishingMeals.com

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

I look forward to your feedback if you get a chance to make these! :)

Serve These Muffins With:

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Buckwheat Hazelnut Pancakes

If you have been following my blog for a while you'll know that I am a big fan of buckwheat. I buy the raw groats and then grind them myself in the dry container of my VitamixRaw Buckwheat Groats are soft and can also be easily ground in a coffee grinder if you don't happen to have a Vitamix. The resulting flour is very mild, creating tender, flavorful pancakes or baked goods. The buckwheat flour you find in the stores is made from roasted buckwheat groats, creating a very strong flavor, which most people don't like. Another thing about raw buckwheat is that it has its own binding power. You'll notice as you mix the batter together it becomes rather "stringy" much like a gluten flour. For this reason, it doesn't require any gums, although pancakes never do.

Buckwheat is not a grain, but rather a seed. It actually has compounds in it that help regulate blood sugar. For this reason it is a great flour to use if you are diabetic.

One of our children's favorite breakfast recipes is the Buckwheat Pancake recipe in my first book, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. A few months ago I began adding Hazelnut Meal to the batter to add extra protein and flavor (for this pregnant mama). I never measure, because if the first pancake doesn't turn out quite right you can easily adjust the batter. I finally nailed down the recipe to share with you, just in time for Mother's Day!