Friday, January 27, 2012

Adzuki Bean and Sea Vegetable Soup

Seaweed? Yep, that's right, those beautiful vegetables that grow in the ocean. They're really quite tasty! I realized recently that I had not yet highlighted this wonderful, mineral-rich plant. Did you know that sea vegetables offer a concentrated source of trace minerals, particularly iodine? Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is incredibly important for normal function of the human body. So important that every single cell has a receptor for this amazing "master switch" of metabolism. Want to have perfectly regulated body weight and body temperature? Then shoot for optimal thyroid hormone function. How do you do that? Eat a gluten-free diet that keeps your autoimmune thyroid antibodies down, and add in some seaweed on a regular basis.

Seaweed is one of nature's richest sources of iodine. Iodine is THE key ingredient in thyroid hormones. We have all heard of T4, tetraiodothyronine, the pre-hormone, and T3, triiodothyronine, the active form of thyroid hormone, but what does that mean? It means four iodines attached to a tyrosine amino acid or three iodines attached to a tyrosine amino acid. One of these iodines is removed with the help of selenium as a cofactor when turning the inactive T4 into the active T3 thyroid hormone. So in essence, if you do not have adequate iodine and selenium, your body may not be able to produce enough thyroid hormone. Are you eating a diet high in phytates, oxalates, and raw cruciferous vegetables? You may have an increased need for iodine, as these foods tend to bind to iodine.

Seaweed can be found at your local health food store. Look for kombu (kelp), wakame, hijiki, arame, or dulse. I keep kelp granules in a small container on our table to sprinkle on food. I like to add wakame to soups like this one.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chocolate Banana Bread (gluten-free, dairy-free, xanthan-free)

The marriage of chocolate and bananas is truly divine. This bread is light, yet rich with chunks of sweet banana melting in your mouth with every bite. Have a slice with your breakfast smoothie or as a mid-afternoon snack, but our favorite is always fresh out of the oven! Or, try pairing a slice of this bread with a mug of Dairy-Free Hot Cocoa on a cold snowy day.

I use teff flour in this bread. If you have not figured it out already, you'll know I'm a big fan of teff! You can view all of my teff recipes on this blog if you'd like. I buy large paper bags of the flour for around $40 from Azure Standard. Before my friends and I started a buying club through Azure, I bought it directly from The Teff Company (Azure sells the same brand).

Chocolate Banana Bread

I use Dagoba cocoa powder which is gluten-free and organic. Although, after reading Green America's Fair Trade Chocolate report, I am considering using a different brand. To grind chia seeds, I use the dry container for my Vita-Mix, but a coffee grinder will work too. I grind enough at once to use for one week. I store the ground seeds in a glass jar in my refrigerator to have on hand for different recipes. The ground chia helps to bind the ingredients together without the use of gums. You can buy gluten-free coconut sugar online from Essential Living Foods or Amazon.

Dry Ingredients:
1 ¾ cup teff flour
¼ cup arrowroot or tapioca flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds
¼ cup warm water
1 ½ cups mashed banana (about 4 large ripe bananas)
¾ cup coconut sugar
½ cup melted coconut oil
2 large organic eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Optional Additions:
chopped dark chocolate bar
chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 4.5 x 8.5-inch bread pans with coconut oil.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate mixing bowl add the ground chia and warm water; whisk together immediately so the chia doesn’t clump up. Then add the remaining wet ingredients and whisk together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon.

Pour batter into the two bread pans. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes and then remove bread from pans and continue to cool on a wire rack. Source:

More Gluten-Free Bread and Muffin Recipes:

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mung Beans and Rice with Indian Spices and Caramelized Onions

I have had a number of requests for slow cooker recipes. Thank you! You have inspired me to use my slow cooker more often in the last few weeks! It is so nice to simply add all of the ingredients to the pot, walk away, and come back hours later with a warm, hearty meal in front of you. I have a few new slow cooker recipes to share with you in the coming weeks (both meat and vegetarian). The following nightshade-free recipe is designed for the Elimination Diet and is perfect for Phase 2 and Phase 3.

Aside from being one of the quickest legumes to prepare and the easiest of all beans to digest, mung beans have numerous positive health benefits. They are a good source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and protein. They show good antioxidant activity in the scientific literature. Mung beans don't have a very strong flavor so they tend to take on whatever you add to them during cooking. Indian spices pair particularly well with mung beans as do dried herbs. Last week I made a tasty mung bean, leek, and potato soup with dried tarragon, thyme, and dill. You can really play with spices and herbs to create some delicious combinations.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kale with Caramelized Onions

Did you know that the food you consume actually changes how your genes are expressed? Every time we eat we tell our bodies which genes to turn on and which genes to turn off. Did you know that there is more gene expression within two hours after eating than any other time of the day? Why? Because food contains gene signaling substances. This is the fascinating world of nutrigenomics, the idea that food is information not merely calories. The Standard American Diet (SAD) turns on genes for heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, and more. Even many gluten-free diets fall into this category. I see many people swapping out wheat bread for super refined gluten-free imitations of bread. These breads, as well as many other refined gluten-free foods, are not healthy even though they may come from a health food store. Basing your diet around organic, seasonal vegetables and fruits is a way to prevent disease, reduce allergies and inflammation, and maintain vibrant health.

This month I am participating in the wonderful blogging event, New Year, New You, hosted by the Daily Bites Blog. This week's theme is Eat More Produce! Kale is a super food, no doubt about it! We have it growing in our garden practically year round. This winter is very mild so the kale didn't die back. We go out everyday and pick what we need for whatever we are making. Kale is one of the easiest ways to Eat More Produce, especially in the wintertime when most fruits and vegetables are out of season. Kale can be chopped and added to just about any soup or stew, added to green smoothies, or sautéed alone or with other ingredients like in the recipe below. Compounds from kale and other brassica family vegetables have been shown in scientific papers to turn on genes that assist with antioxidant formation, increase detoxification, and turn on gene cell cycle arrest. In a nut shell, they help to prevent cancer, and assist in stopping cancer cell growth.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Homemade Hemp Milk

Making your own hemp milk is easier than buying it! Plus by making your own, you don't get any extra added ingredients, just pure creamy goodness. However, since there are no added flavorings, this milk tastes a lot like hemp seeds (as it should) so the flavor might be a tad stronger if you are accustomed to store-bought hemp milk. We buy Nutiva shelled hemp seeds in bulk through I like to store a jar of them in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer to keep them fresh.

Use this milk for baking, in pancakes, as a dairy-free milk base for smoothies, poured over whole grain breakfast porridge, or just for drinking. It stores best in the refrigerator in a sealed glass jar or pitcher for 3 to 4 days. The small glass pitcher you see in these photos is from our local food co-op. I actually have two different sizes, both which have a really nice lid that screws on. I store my homemade almond milk and cashew milk in these glass pitchers as well.

Homemade hemp milk is also suitable for anyone following an Elimination Diet. It can be used in all phases of the diet! Hemp seeds are high in easily digested protein, if fact, they contain all 20 known amino acids!

Homemade Hemp Milk

I use a Vita-Mix to make this milk, I have not tried it using a regular blender so don't know how it would work. If you have made it without a Vita-Mix, could you please leave a comment so others can gain from your experience? I always strain my hemp milk using a nut milk bag, though others who commented on our Facebook page said they just blend the seeds and water and didn't mention straining.

1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
3 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend for 60 to 90 seconds or until ultra smooth. Place a nut milk bag into a large jar or pitcher and pour hemp milk through the bag, squeezing out the milk, and leaving the pulp behind. I compost the leftover pulp. Store your hemp milk in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Use it in recipes wherever milk is called for. Source:

More Beverage recipes:
Dairy-Free Hot Cocoa 
Soothing Tummy Tea
Cranberry Orange Punch

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