Saturday, April 22, 2017

When You Just Want a Bowl of Goodness

This recipe was an experiment made by taking the best part out of three veggie soup recipes I had and combining them.  It's a very filling and nourishing soup with just the right amount of heat and sour.  Note - if you wish it sourer, add 2 additional Tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

Hot and Sour Vegetable Soup

3 Tablespoons sherry or rice wine
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or substitute coconut aminos for soy, gluten and vegan option)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 ounce dried Chinese black mushrooms
8 cups water

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2  chopped onion (or substitute 1/3 cup celery or water chestnut)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped fine
1/2 sweet potato -  diced into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped carrots


1/2  zucchini - chopped
1/2 bell pepper  - chopped or sliced thin
1/2 cup tofu, cubed or chicken cut into thin strips


a small  handful of baby boc choy
8 ounces diced tomatoes (small can)
salt to taste (no more than 1 tsp).

Whisk together the soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, salt, white pepper, and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Set aside.

 Heat two cups of the water to boiling and pour over the mushrooms in a dish.  Cover with a plate and let rest 30 minutes.

Drain the mushrooms, squeezing out the liquid (save) and cutting off the hard stems.

In a dutch oven heat mushroom liquid and remaining six cups of water to a full simmer

While the broth heats, saute the onion, ginger and jalapeno pepper in a little oil until softened (2-3 minutes).  Add sweet potato, cabbage, and carrots and cook covered for 4 minutes (cabbage should be starting to wilt).

Add softened veggies to fully simmering or gently boiling broth. Reduce heat slightly and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the zucchini, bell pepper, and protein and simmer until the veggies are tender the protein cooked through (about 10 minutes).

Add in the soy sauce mixture and cook until soup is thickened (about 7-8 minutes)

Stir in the tomatoes and boc choy, raise heat slightly and bring back to a full simmer.

Stir in sesame oil and serve.
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Pineapple Curry - Thai This on for Size

I've been doing real well with the IBS symptoms this week by adding in a bit of lean protein at each meal (some vegetarian sources, some animal), reducing the bean and grains (not eliminating, just reducing to a serving a day) and cutting back on nuts (a favorite snack but lots of fat, even if the good kind). Getting rid of soy and US franken- wheat has helped immensely, and I keep my carb servings small and whole grain except for white rice which I just love. I also do better with smaller portion sizes adding in some 250 calorie snacks morning and afternoon.  Big meals are definitely a trigger.

We do Thai every month but it does get expensive eating out so I tried making curry and it was a hit with my husband who loves it.  I'm normally not a big curry fan but I really enjoyed this.

2 – 15 oz. cans light coconut milk
3 Tbsp red curry paste
1 Tbsp curry powder
dash of crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 teaspoon of brown sugar or honey
a dash of salt
15 oz. can pineapple chunks, well drained
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 large chicken breast diced

rice as a side

Directions

Cook the rice, as directed. I cook mine in a tray that sits inside my steamer and it's always perfect.

In a large saucepan, whisk the coconut milk, curry paste, curry powder, crushed red pepper, ginger, garlic powder sugar or honey, and salt.

Stir in the pineapple, bell pepper slices and pieces of chicken. Cook until the chicken is done (about 20 minutes). Taste and add more crushed red pepper if you wish it "hotter".

Makes four generous servings.

Serve with rice.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Day of Eating Challenges and the Discovery of Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Today was going to be a bit of a diet challenge.  It's Friday in Lent which for me means no meat.  But I recently ditched dairy, beans, and wheat in hopes of helping my IBS symptoms.  So what to make?
Breakfast was super easy to whip up, even on a work day.  Coconut flour "pancake".  It's not a true pancake in taste, much more shape but it had a tender, eggy taste that was very filling and filled me up until almost 1 PM.  It made two good sized pancakes  I just ate one and it was quite filling. Less than 250 calories and no gluten or sugar (I used some sugar-free syrup on it though).

 3 eggs
 1/4 cup coconut flour
 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
splash of vanilla extract
Whisk until smooth and cook  in a fry pan or griddle on medium/high in a Tablespoon of Ghee for two minutes flip and cook 1 to 2 more minutes.

Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in ancient India and is commonly used in South Asian, Iranian and Arabic cuisines, traditional medicine, and religious rituals.  Ghee is prepared by simmering butter, which is churned from cream, skimming any impurities from the surface, and then pouring and retaining the clear, still liquid fat, while discarding the solid residue that settled on the bottom. It packs a lot more health benefits than butter. I make my own.
Then for my packed lunch (picture is from dinner) some leftover pasta with non-dairy "Parmesan" cheese.

3/4 cup RAW cashews (not roasted)
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (I think it's made of ground up hippies) and is Vegan and full of nutrition
3/4 teaspoon Penzey's roasted garlic powder (or your favorite garlic powder)
1/4 sea salt

Pulse in a food processor or powerful blender until the consistency of cheese (for me - pulsing a few seconds at a time for a minute).
Store refrigerated or in the freezer for longer term use.  Makes about a cup.
Served on some quinoa gluten free pasta yesterday with some olive oil and herbs this tasted EXACTLY like regular parmesan but NO dairy! I also fed a bite to my husband when he got home from a business trip without telling him and he couldn't tell.  SCORE!.

I had the leftovers for lunch today.

For an afternoon snack, some Kitchfix grain-free granola, made with nuts, coconut oil, and shredded coconut, with a coconut milk yogurt.
And dinner (for me, anyway) was just a plate of roasted veggies. Drizzled with some WHITE balsamic vinegar (a different taste) and rosemary they were awesome with a bit of salad.

Especially with a glass or two of  Frey Organic wine (my favorite white wine right now)
Honestly, I wasn't  hungry at all today.  I got plenty of protein and variety.  I'd say this meat/wheat/sugar-free day was a hit.

Then time to curl up with a friend's book that Amazon delivered today.  Her delightful pet blog is

Foley Monster, Pocket, and River Song

It's a warm-hearted book of stories of so many wonderful little souls.  A good day to remember them.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gluten Free Coffee Mug Muffin

My IBS was doing better with the great reduction in wheat and dairy. The extra beans from adding in more vegetarian meals, was taking that progress away from me and my gut does NOT like soy products as I get older.

So I'm going to be adding in more lean grass fed and free range animal protein and paleo protein shakes, still doing at least one vegetarian (no soy or beans) meal once a day, and a veggie only day with high protein vegetables, some ancient grains or gluten-free bread with a little nut butter for protein twice a week. I've got a grass fed, ethically raised, had its own smart phone and personal trainer, chuck roast from Whole Foods that cost as much as a small car in some countries in the crockpot with some garlic, beef stock, and balsamic vinegar reduction to have for dinner with mashed cauliflower and some steamed carrots on the side.

But today, after a lunch of coconut yogurt with a Tablespoon of berries and an apple, I was hankering for both bread and sweet and modified a recipe I found online to make this.

An easy, super moist muffin in less than 4 minutes, with NO wheat flour and white sugar
Apple Cinnamon Coffee Mug Muffin

Spray a coffee mug with nonstick spray.

In a cereal bowl melt 1 Tablespoon butter or coconut oil
Stir in:
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon honey (or use sugar if you want a vegan version)
1 egg or equivalent vegan egg substitute.

Whisk in until smooth:
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons almond flour (do not substitute)

On top sprinkle:
heaping tablespoon of finely chopped apple
pinch of finely chopped walnuts
two small pieces of a thin shaving of butter or vegan buttery spread

Pour into mug and microwave 1 minute 15 seconds to 1 minute 45 seconds (microwaves vary, when it's done, it will be puffed up but other than the sheen from the butter it won't look wet).  

Let sit at least 3 minutes and enjoy. 


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Gluten Free for your Chocolate Craving

I made these for a friend with Celiac, using a recipe another friend shared (the photo is hers as I left my camera at work) and they were a hit! They are obviously not low far - but they are low carb and rich enough you just need a little bite to satisfy your chocolate/dessert craving.

Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Bars (gluten free, no flour or white sugar)
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted;
1/2 cup coconut butter (comes in a mayonnaise style jar, found at most health food stores or online)
1/2 cup maple syrup or raw honey;
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder;
1/2 cup fresh raspberries;
1/4 cup dark chocolate, thinly chopped;
1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped;

Preparation

Combine the coconut oil and butter, maple syrup, and cocoa powder over a double boiler, and whisk until blended and smooth.

Add in the dark chocolate bits, raspberries, and chopped almonds, gently stirring.

Line a 9×9 or 8 x 8 square baking pan with parchment paper and pour the chocolate in evenly.

Place in the freezer and freeze 15 to 20 minutes.

Slice while the mixture is still cold, and serve at room temperature. Store in refrigerator.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Boom Stick Review and a Look at the Kitchen Remodel

I was looking at a video on Cindy Joseph's  Saturday's with Cindy video series (of Boom Stick Beauty fame).  This one showcased her 118-year-old Dutch Victorian house.  Amazing house!  But what made me grin from ear to ear as she has my sink!  The one we found at auction and replumbed the entire kitchen ourselves to move it to a different wall so I have counter space. (and I also grinned ear to ear when the old metal cabinets covered in sparkly contact paper were taken off to a recycler).

Seriously, try her products - you'll ditch the giant bag of makeup in no time.I got some as a gift and I had to order refills. There's a sheer tint for cheeks and lips, an illuminator to highlight your best features and a moisturizing stick to add some healthy glow to where you need it. They're made out of all natural ingredients and are perfect, before, during and post workout for a healthy beautiful look. She also has a line of honey-based skin care products I'm going to try and review next. At age 58, I think "less is best" as far as looking great.  Too much makeup is more aging than paring it down and these products are great for that.

Here's the kitchen remodel - to make it look like an OLD kitchen. (I still have to finish the plaster work but was waiting for warmer weather).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Natural Laundry Soap - Finally, No More Itchy Skin

I tend to have drier skin in the winter but over the winter I developed almost a rash on my arms, back, and lower legs. Even using a good lotion I was constantly itchy and would get little pimples that wouldn't go away. I thought it might be a reaction to the laundry soap as we had just changed to a cheaper brand, but switching to a non-fragrance one made no difference. But since all my other skin care is pure and natural, I figured it was something in the commercial laundry detergent.

Face it - conventional laundry-care products often contain chemicals with negative health effects ranging from skin and throat irritation to carcinogenicity. Because laundry care product manufacturers are not required by law to list all their ingredients on packaging, it can be difficult for buyers to make an informed choice. Laundry detergents are often derived from petrochemicals and contain synthetic fragrances, (even the “fragrance-free ones). The term “fragrance” alone may refer to a combination of hundreds of chemicals, many of which can be hazardous. Many detergents also contain added optical brighteners. Those are additives that emit blue light, which makes the whites APPEAR more white, as they trick the eye. Such additives also stay in the clothes after rinsing, like fabric softeners do, causing potential irritation by lingering chemicals that come in contact with the skin. I figured my skin issues was due to one of the many synthetic ingredients in the brand we were using and decided to find a more natural solution.

When placing an order for "bath bombs" at one of my favorite soap places

I saw they had natural laundry detergent. $7.99 seemed like a lot for the small box, but then I read it only takes 1 TABLESPOON to do a large load with a high-efficiency washer (and only 2 if you have an older type of washer).

Measuring it out I determined this box would be 40 large (full) loads in an HE Washer, and 20 in a regular washer. My old store bought detergent advertise 32 or so loads for about the same money but then I looked at the label carefully. My old detergent bases the load on a medium load. If you are doing a large load it's only 16 washes and 11 for a full load (which is what we always do). 

So the SACS & Company product is actually CHEAPER than the store bought since it is concentrated. Simply add the powder to the water as the washer fills and go find something more fun than laundry to do.

There are several scents as well as unscented. I chose lavender. They also list cashmere, unscented, Yuzu, and country apple. The dried clothing doesn't have a strong perfumy smell, but a very subtle clean smell that was extremely light and more natural smelling than those "springtime fresh" chemical laden products. I had my husband give it a sniff - and he agreed it just smelled "fresh".  If you want a stronger scent on your clothes you can add a note to your order as owners and artisans Marta and Lauri will gladly customize it.

They will also enclose a frequent buyer card. It's punched with a star for each $10 you spend.  When you get 10 stars, you simply take a photo of your card(s) and email it and they will give you a code for $10 off of your next order.  Good online or in their store in Indiana.

The best part - no more itchy skin! Crafted from SACS & Co. line of goats milk with pure essential oil soaps the laundry detergent is free from all petroleum or preservative ingredients and comes in a resealable bag within the box

I will definitely be purchasing more.  Better for me, better for the environment.