Monday, August 27, 2012

Chicken Fajita Salad with Spicy Avocado Dressing



When summer's produce is in abundance we like to create meals that revolve around it, like this one. If you are vegan or vegetarian you can substitute cooked blacked beans or sautéed tempeh for the chicken. I think you'll find the Spicy Avocado Dressing rather addicting! Tom and I like to make a batch of this dressing with the whole jalapeñoseeds and all, but for the children we make it without the seeds.

Did you know that eating a small avocado with a meal containing carotenoids (found in the tomatoes, peppers, and salad greens) helps to absorb these beneficial compounds? Carotenoids, like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin all need to be consumed with fat to optimize absorption in the intestines. One also needs to have a functioning small intestine for this to occur (gluten, antibiotics, yeast overgrowth, and environmental toxins can damage the gut and impede absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients). Once in the body these carotenoids act as powerful antioxidants mopping up free radicals. Some of these carotenoids can also be converted into vitamin A (all-trans-retinol). We need vitamin A to assist with gene transcription, proper development of an embryo, various reproductive processes, night and color vision, skin health (acne), cellular communication, and proper immune function. Vitamin A is found in liver, meat, and dairy products. In order to convert carotenoids from plants into vitamin A we need to have adequate zinc and proper thyroid function as the T3 thyroid hormone helps in the conversion process. When pregnant and lactating the need for preformed vitamin A increases quite a bit so be sure to consume enough carotenoids from plants and vitamin A from animal sources, or if you are vegan, be sure to consume enough iodine, zinc, and selenium-rich foods for proper thyroid function so you can properly convert carotenoids from plants into Vitamin A.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Flavored Lemonade (sugar-free)



This is another guest post by my 10-year old daughter, Lily (I helped her format the recipe). For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while you might remember the first guest post she did on Homemade Seaweed Snacks. This is another yummy creation of hers, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! -Ali :)

What inspired me to create lemonade in jars was a stand at the farmer's market. They take two cups that fit together and shake the lemonade to mix it. Because we don't have two cups that fit together I thought  jars would work too.

This is a great drink for a hot afternoon. I made these before we went blueberry picking one day and we had them when we got home. It was so refreshing to have these after a hot afternoon in the sun.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Nightshade-Free Salsa



The other week I was picking my daughter up from art camp and another mother came up to me to let me know the changes in her health that came about after following our Elimination Diet years ago. She said that she looks and feels so differently now and is not the person she used to be....in a good way. She was beautiful and her skin glowing! One of the things she discovered through the elimination diet process was a severe sensitivity to nightshade vegetables. You know what those are, right? Tomatoes, tomatillos, potatoes, eggplant, spicy peppers (including cayenne pepper), sweet peppers (including paprika), pimentos, and tobacco.

Symptoms of a nightshade sensitivity include:
  • joint pain
  • rashes
  • GI upset
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • inflammation
All nightshade plants, including those growing in the wild, contain toxic alkaloid compounds. In foods, like tomatoes and peppers, these compounds are only found in small amounts so most people can process and remove them from the body and no harm is done. In wild plants, these compounds are found in a much higher concentration, sometimes causing death if ingested.

In people that cannot process these alkaloids very well, (and since many people consume nightshade vegetables on a daily basis) these compounds can build up in the body and begin to cause a host of issues. Of course not all people are sensitive to nightshades so don't get too concerned here that you need to eliminate yet another food from your diet! If you suspect that your body might not be tolerating nightshades then do a simple elimination diet and keep them completely out of your diet (yes, that means 100%) for 3 weeks and then add them back in, noting how you feel.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Apricot-Cherry Upside Down Cake (gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free)



Summer's bounty is here and needs to be preserved or used right away! What do you do to preserve the summer harvest of fruits and vegetables? For fruit, we freeze it, dehydrate it into fruit roll-ups or small pieces, make jam, make fun cakes or crisps, and just enjoy it fresh.

This cake recipe evolved after creating a grain-free apple cobbler (with those yummy early season baking apples). I thought if my ingredient combinations worked as a topping for cobbler, they might work (with a few tweaks) as a base for an upside down cake! I'll share the cobbler recipe later in the season when more varieties of apples are available.

If you are looking for more healthy gluten-free dessert recipes like this one, then check out our new book, Nourishing Meals. I think the dessert chapter has about 50 new recipes ranging from Sweet Potato Custard and Dark Chocolate Coconut Custard to Frozen Banana Coconut Cream Pie and Lime Avocado Tart with a Macadamia Nut Crust to Pear Almond Crumble, Cashew Ginger Cookies, Carrot Orange Spice Cupcakes, and Gingerbread! All of these recipes I just listed are also free of grain flours and sweetened with a minimal amount of natural sweeteners. Some of them are vegan and some contain eggs. Our new book is due out at the end of this month and can be found on our website (with a free e-book) or on amazon.com.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Peach Ginger Mint Green Smoothie



This fresh, summery smoothie will quench your thirst and rejuvenate your cells! My ingredients veer a little from the smoothie ingredients we typically use. This one makes use of all of the produce (except ginger) you can find at your your local Farmer's Market or food co-op right now! Since I have a smoothie recipe for winter, spring, and autumn, I thought a summery green smoothie recipe needed to be posted. You can check out our Super Antioxidant Smoothie which does use summer produce (but it's not green!).

This recipe can be used during the green smoothie fast and all phases of our Elimination Diet. Also, since it doesn't have citrus, it is a great first smoothie for older babies! We've been teaching our baby to drink from a cup by giving her little bits of liquid in tiny glasses (bought from Goodwill) since she was 8 months old. We started with water or fresh coconut water and now she can drink a smoothie out of a cup.....no plastic sippy cup needed!

If we give our children the opportunity to learn how to use regular silverware and cups from the beginning, they learn pretty quickly, and all of those baby products you thought you needed become obsolete. Sure, I bought plastic spoons, cups, and bowls with my first baby, even though in the back of my mind it didn't feel quite right. We gave them all away years ago and now that I understand the dangers of using plastic, there is no way I would ever purchase these things again. Babies and toddlers can use small ceramic or glass bowls, wooden bowls, wooden silverware (for young babies), small stainless steel silverware (for older babies), and small glass cups instead of plastic sippy cups.