Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gluten-Free Flatbread Recipe made from Soaked Whole Grains (yeast-free, vegan)

I'm very excited to share this super simple gluten-free flatbread recipe with you today. It is made entirely from soaked gluten-free whole grains....no flours! This is a guest post from the lovely Kim Wilson of Simply Natural Health. Kim has written a fabulous e-book entitled Good and Easy Eats where you can find more of her delicious gluten-free soaked whole grain recipes! When Kim emailed me her recipe yesterday I immediately made it. I actually already had the two main ingredients prepped and ready to go....a bowl of millet and brown basmati rice soaking on the counter (in the correct measurements). My children devoured it right away and are asking when I will be making more! I just want to add that it is imperative that you sort through your millet (before soaking) and pick out any gluten grains. Millet is almost always contaminated with gluten! Happy Baking! ~Ali 

It’s a thrilling opportunity to be able to offer a guest blog here as I’ve admired Ali and Tom’s delicious recipes, lovely photos, and family-approach to natural eating for years. It was fourteen years ago when our family began embracing whole foods as the solution to our health issues. It wasn’t an easy transition initially as my husband was an extremely picky eater and I didn’t like cooking. Because of this I was highly motivated to find the quickest and easiest ways to prepare the most nutritionally-dense and family-pleasing foods. When I focused on developing more gluten-free recipes in an effort to help our adopted son (non-verbal and with many characteristically autistic behaviors), I was excited to find that the whole food approach to gluten-free cooking provided much more satisfying results than any of the costly, unappetizing and nutritionally-devoid gluten-free products and mixes out there.

Most gluten-free folks would probably agree that a couple of the toughest foods to replace satisfactorily are bread and pizza. I’ve worked for several months on developing and refining the super-simple, extremely versatile flatbread recipe I’m sharing here. I particularly love this kind of recipe because it begins with whole grains in contrast to whole grain flours. The grains are soaked, which increases their digestibility and nutritional profile, blended, and then POURED onto a hot baking stones or skillets. No more wrestling with sticky dough or batter!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Homemade Seaweed Snacks

Have you ever tried those salty seaweed snacks you buy at places like Trader Joe's? I know, they're addicting, we've tried them before and my children loved them! I won't buy them because they have so much packaging and because canola oil is listed as one of the ingredients (which is often genetically engineered). My 10 year old daughter has been thinking about a way to make them for months and she finally decided to figure it out last week. I asked her to write a "guest post" for me but she didn't want to. She did, however, write the recipe below but wanted me to "introduce" it. 

When she makes these, the other children hover over the pans as they come out of the oven and devour them ALL in one sitting. She will then proceed to make another batch and quickly hide some of them for her lunch. Seaweed, with the addition of unrefined sea salt, is a very nutritious trace-mineral snack! 

Here is Lily's recipe. I was amazed that she knew how to organize and write a recipe....must be from using my cookbook and cooking on her own. She asked me quite a few times what she should say next and I would reply: "what was your next step?" Then she would realize that she already knew the answer and proceed to type it up.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Bites (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Today we have another guest post from a fellow blogger and friend, Hallie Klecker, who has created an amazingly simple and nutritious "cheesecake" recipe for a mini muffin pan. Hallie has a fabulous cookbook and blog that are both gluten-free, dairy-free, and revolve around whole foods. She tells her story below. ~Ali

I’m so honored to be guest posting here today! I’ve been reading Ali's blog for years, literally. I went through quite a rough patch when I first went gluten- and dairy-free. Sensitivities to these foods left me malnourished and underweight, so in the first few months of eliminating them from my diet, I made significant efforts to gain weight eating nutrient-dense foods. Scouring the web for nutritious recipes, books, and other resources led me to Ali and Tom.

I subscribed by email right away to this blog and found myself checking my inbox eagerly every day, hoping for a new recipe! Over time, as I became healthier and pursued my education in holistic nutrition, I launched my own blog, Daily Bites, to share with others the nourishing food that came out of my kitchen. And just last year, I published my first cookbook, The Pure Kitchen, which contains 100 gluten- and dairy-free recipes designed to keep cooking simple, fresh, and healthy.

Without a doubt, Ali and Tom definitely played a key role in inspiring me to launch both my blog and my book. Although we’ve never met in person (yet...), I like to think that we’re partners in spreading the delicious message of gluten-free, whole food nutrition.

This recipe for Strawberry “Cheesecake” Bites is the perfect example of a “whole food dessert.” I’m trying to develop more and more recipes these days with an emphasis on simple, easy-to-find ingredients that are as natural as possible. This means no gluten-free starches, xanthan or guar gum, or crazy specialty products that cost a fortune to ship. Just natural, whole foods straight from nature.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Detox with Spring Greens

Spring Nettles

I'm spending all of my writing time finishing the new cookbook so today I have another guest post for you from a friend and acupuncturist here in Northwestern Washington. Nancy Moore runs a busy acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine practice. She can also be found on her oriental medicine blog. Today she talks about bitter spring greens and why, at this time of year, it is of utmost importance to support our detoxifying organs, the liver and gallbladder. ~Ali

Green is the color associated with springtime in Chinese medicine, which, in the Five Element cycle, is the Wood phase, a time to cleanse and nourish the Liver and Gallbladder systems.

The best remedies for stimulating and supporting the Liver-Gallbladder systems are colored green! Chlorophyll-rich leafy greens have the new, active, ascending nature of spring within them to help detoxify and de-stagnate our bodies in this season of renewal.

Some of these greens also have the bitter taste that is almost completely absent in our diet, which herbalist Jim McDonald feels is essential for health. In a great article entitled “Blessed Bitters” McDonald suggests that many of our modern-day health woes are the result of Bitter Deficiency Syndrome. He states that bitters stimulate all digestive secretions and stomach acid, help regulate the absorption of vitamin B12, normalize blood sugar, promote the production and release of pancreatic enzymes and bile, strengthen the tone of tissues throughout the digestive tract, heal damaged mucous membranes, soothe gastric reflux, aid intestinal peristalsis, and reduce cravings for sweets.

On an emotional level, dark green leafy vegetables and bitters have both a grounding quality and a “releasing” property—calming an edgy-irritable system and helping us let go of sluggish, stuck, negative energy. This makes sense when we remember that a large portion of our “feel-good” neurotransmitters—including serotonin and dopamine—are utilized in the gut, not the brain. Greens, especially those that are pungent (sour) or bitter, stimulate these!

Photo Credit: Nancy Moore

Greens for Liver-Gallbladder Stimulation and Health:
  • Arugula 
  • Radicchio
  • Collards 
  • Kale 
  • Endive 
  • Escarole 
  • Mizuna 
  • Sorrel 
  • Spinach
  • Parsley 
  • Watercress
  • Red or green mustard greens 
  • Dandelion greens
  • Nettles 
In other words, the same kind of greens you find in an expensive restaurant salad!

The last two—dandelion greens and nettles—are abundant and free greens in this area, both packed full of super nutrients. Dandelion greens (in our local food co-op salad section now, or in some backyards near you) have been used for centuries for general detoxification, liver, gallbladder, and kidney health, joint problems, blood purification, eczema, poor digestion, and breast health. Harvest them in less traveled areas away from animal contamination. Nettles are high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, boron, carotenoids, iron, and the flavonoid quercetin, which has been found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine effects for seasonal allergies. Nettles can be collected all around the area—just wear gloves and cook or dehydrate them to eliminate the stinging properties.

If the bitter flavor of some greens is not appealing, try adding them slowly into the diet to allow the brain and digestive system time to adjust. You can add a little vinegar or lemon juice to mellow the bitter flavor which will also aid in the assimilation of minerals. Adding freshly grated ginger to a dressing “warms up” the flavor of salad greens.

Above all, open yourself to new tastes, ideas, and experiences in this amazing season of growth. Go green, baby!

by Nancy Moore, Licensed Acupuncturist & Herbalist

Spring Chives in my Garden

Some recipes using greens you might like:

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Friday, March 9, 2012

The Accidental Chocolate Cake (grain-free, dairy-free)

A few weeks ago, the night before Valentine's Day, my daughters asked me to make cupcakes and frosting to give out to their friends at school. I had an idea to make a healthy frosting using almond butter and coconut oil. Thinking that I needed to chill the frosting for a while before spreading it onto the cupcakes, I made it first. A few hours later I took it out of the refrigerator to whip up into what I thought would be this beautiful, light, and fluffy frosting. For a second it did look like that, and then the oil began separating. My girls tried it and said it tasted good, like brownies, and that I should bake it! I was so busy that night that I didn't have time so I got to it the next morning, Valentine's Day. I decided to add 2 eggs and put it in the oven....and voila....a beautiful, moist, tender chocolate cake emerged!

I took photos of it that day, what you see here, and planned on testing it one more time before posting it. We then took a trip to visit family for nearly two weeks. I tested it there and everyone loved it. My dad said I should call it "the accidental chocolate cake!" I've been so busy finishing the new cookbook that I have not had much time to post to my blog. Over the next month I have a few guest posts scheduled. After the book is done, I'll be back. In the meantime, enjoy this yummy cake!