Spicy Mango Jalapeno Sausage & Red Lentil Pasta

3 Comments

 

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Technically, legumes are on the “don’t eat very often” list for me because they are considered an inflammatory food for those of us whose inflammatory mechanism is broken.

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For me, having pasta made with lentils is not as damaging as having pasta made with brown rice. So every now and then I treat myself and because I don’t have it often, it really feels like an indulgence.

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My husband prefers them with sauce, but I can eat them any which way. I love them. I’d say they have a slightly different texture than “regular” pasta, but nothing that is off putting. I think they’re fabulous!

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I cook mine longer than the directions suggest. More like 12-14 minutes. But be careful, because they go from aldente to way too done very quickly during those last few minutes.

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When you taste them at the end of the boiling time, they will seem a tad over done, but once they are rinsed and tossed with whatever you add to them, they firm right back up. A lot of the brown rice pastas react that way as well. I don’t know why, but it’s a good cooking hint to know!

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The Spicy Mango with Jalapeno are our favorite Aidells sausages, but again, I can’t eat them very often. Pre-packaged foods are loaded with sodium, another inflammatory. Although salt in itself isn’t bad for inflammation…but that is another post for another time.

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These are a little sweet and more spicy, they go so well with sauteed veggies of any kind! I think they are best grilled.

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Both the pasta and the sausages can be used in many different ways, the options are endless really.

Get creative!

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Strawberry Yogurt Pops

1 Comment

2015-05-19 14.10.35

These Strawberry Yogurt Pops are an easy and healthy sweet treat.

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The only ingredients are fresh strawberries, and coconut yogurt.

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I used home made coconut yogurt, but you don’t have to. You can use any yogurt you like. For future reference, it’s simple to make your own though! I make mine with 5 1/2 Cups of organic full fat coconut milk, 2 Tablespoons of pure maple syrup, 1 1/2 Tablespoons of gelatin, 1 probiotic capsule, and then whatever additives I feel like putting in there that week. This time it was pure vanilla and pure almond extract.

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 I put everything but the gelatin in the Vitamix and whiz it up on high, then I turn it to medium and slowly sprinkle the gelatin and then allow it to blend for 1-2 minutes. I pour it into the yogurt jars, put the lids on, and let it warm for 8 hours. When time is up, I swirl each yogurt because the coconut milk has a tendency to separate, and place it in the fridge over night.

I use this yogurt maker.

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Once you have your yogurt on hand, you simply wash and slice up your favorite fruit. Add the yogurt, whiz it up until smooth (or not smooth, whatever your preference) and fill your popsicle molds. Easy.

Amounts will depend on how many you’d like to make. Keep in mind that you need very ripe fruit if you don’t want to add extra sweeteners.

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Spinach & Basil Pesto

3 Comments

2015-05-17 10.22.15

love pesto. It’s so versatile and easy to add to meat, vegetable, pasta, and zoodle dishes. My pesto is vegan and nut free and quite delicious, if I do say so myself. I don’t miss the cheese or the nuts. If you can tolerate goat or sheep’s milk cheese though, goat parm goes very well with this recipe.

When I make it, I make big batches of it to keep in the freezer.

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Having it ready to go in serving size baggies makes it easy to whip up a quick dinner that would normally be laborious if you waited until dinner time to make the pesto.

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I fill small zipper bags with 1/4 Cup servings, roll them up, place them in a bigger bag and pop them in the freezer.

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When I’m ready to use one, I place a baggie in a bowl of warm water while I’m preparing the other dinner ingredients. When it’s defrosted, I snip the bottom corner of the bag and squeeze out the pesto into whatever dish I’m making. Fast, no mess, and a simple way to add a lot of flavor to a wide variety of meals.

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Vegan Spinach & Basil Pesto

*Makes about 3 Cups

10 Cups of Organic Baby Spinach (don’t worry about the stems)

1/4 Cup of Fresh Organic Oregano, packed

3 Four Ounce Packages of Organic Basil (or basil from your garden)

8 Cloves of Organic Garlic, peeled

1 1/2 Cups of Organic Olive Oil

Juice of 1/2 of a Small Organic Lemon

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

You may have to do the pesto in two batches depending on the size of your food processor. I slowly break down all of the greens first, scraping down the sides, before I add any of the other ingredients. This way, I don’t have to worry about making two separate batches. Once all the greens are purified, add the garlic and turn the processor on high. Slowly begin to drizzle the olive oil into the greens and mix until smooth. Add the juice and salt and continue to mix until you reach the pesto texture you like.

A little goes a long way. I find it much more economical to freeze it in small batches rather than large because often, a portion of the larger batches ends up going to waste.

Grain Free & Dairy Free Chocolate Pancakes

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It is possible to indulge in your favorite things even when you are focusing on being grain and dairy free. It’s not necessary for you to suffer and think that you’ll never be able to eat anything fabulous and naughty ever again.

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I mean seriously. Does this look like I suffered at breakfast this morning?

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I certainly did not and you don’t have to either. These are easy to make and incredibly delicious. The whole family will love them and absolutely no one will even notice that they are free of grains and dairy and made with coconut sugar.

You can top them with anything you like. I’m a dairy free butter & pure maple syrup kind of girl, but powdered sugar and chocolate chips, and even peanut butter go quite well.

Bacon provides the perfect salty side.

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Grain Free & Dairy Free Chocolate Pancakes

*Makes 12 medium to large pancakes

2 Organic Eggs, Separated

3 1/2 Cups of Organic Full Fat Coconut Milk (or milk of choice)

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup of Organic Buckwheat Groat Flour (Ground Groats)

1/2 Cup of Organic Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Organic Arrowroot Flour

3/4 Cup of Organic Cocoa Powder

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1 teaspoon of Organic Coconut Crystals

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

Separate the eggs and beat egg whites to stiff peak. Set aside. Whisk the buckwheat, coconut flour, arrowroot, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium sized bowl. Add the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Carefully fold in egg whites.

Heat a griddle on medium and oil. I used bacon fat but you can use avocado oil or coconut oil also. Spoon batter onto hot griddle and cook for 4 minutes or until bubbly on top. Flip and cook for about 3 minutes.

Korobuta Ham Asparagus Scramble & A Small Thyroid Lesson

8 Comments

2015-05-15 08.13.01

I really prefer to wake up and start the day with a vegetable, protein, and fruit smoothie. I think it’s a fantastic way to pack a lot of nutrients into a really easy meal and it’s a great way to start my day off right away with a lot of anti-inflammatory foods.  However, after getting my lab test results and hearing that my thyroid antibodies are out of range, I’m having to switch it up a bit. At this point, all of my other thyroid numbers are optimal, so rather than treat with medication, we’re going to keep an eye on it.

After a bit of research I came across some interesting information. Evidently, there’s a whole list of vegetables that interfere with your thyroid when eaten raw on a regular basis.

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These are called Goitrogen foods. “Most goitrogens are naturally-occurring chemicals that are ingested in foods or drugs. These chemicals can interfere with thyroid function in different ways. Some compounds induce antibodies that cross-react with the thyroid gland; others interfere with thyroid peroxidase (TPO), the enzyme responsible for adding iodine during production of thyroid hormones. Either way, the thyroid isn’t able to produce as many of the hormones that are needed for regulating metabolism.” – Marcelle Pick OB GYN/NP

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The good news is that you can still enjoy these foods. Dr. Pick says you can steam, cook, or ferment the Goitrogen foods to decrease the compounds. Then, make sure you’re rotating these foods in your diet so you’re not eating a lot of one type daily.

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 My plan is to steam spinach and kale, puree it, and then freeze it in smoothie portions, being mindful not to add it to my smoothies every day.

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Below is a list of Goitrogenic foods from Paleohacks.com, and at the bottom I’ve listed some websites for you for further reading and research.

Top 11 Goitrogenic Foods

  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard and Mustard greens
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Soy (anything)
  • Turnips

Foods with Smaller Amounts of Goitrogens

  • Bamboo shoots
  • Millet
  • Peaches
  • Peanuts
  • Pears
  • Pine Nuts
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Wheat and other gluten-containing grains

Thyroid issues are nothing to mess around with. And as you already know, I am a big proponent of helping heal the body naturally whenever possible. If you have thyroid issues, or your antibody numbers are out of whack like mine, it may very well make all the difference simply by changing your diet.

Thyroid Antibody Test -What is it? 

Hashimoto’s – Your body is destroying itself

Easing Out Of Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) 

10 Foods To Heal Hypothyroidism

12 Facts On Healing Your Thyroid Every Tired Person Should Know

13 Ways To Treat Hypothyroidism Naturally

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Cole’s Fine Foods ~ Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe

4 Comments

2015-05-04 11.18.17

Mom and I are thoroughly enjoying her retirement. We both like to lollygag around when we’re out running errands to see what’s new or see what we’ve missed when life used to be in a hurry.  Monday I had a follow-up with my doctor and we remembered there’s a new gluten-free bakery near there we wanted to check out that we missed after my last appointment. I almost drove right by it but mom said, “Hey! There’s that bakery, let’s stop and take a look!”

Being a fellow professional look-see lollygagger, I was all for it.

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Cole’s Fine Foods is tucked into a pretty busy area with doctor’s buildings and strip malls. Easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. And I can tell you after sampling several of her items, you’ll regret it if you don’t make the time to find it. Cole’s has a lovely set up. Very open and inviting with their baking mixes, granola, and breads on display. In fact, the bread that was on display, was still warm from the oven!

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At the counter you’ll find all of their pastries and goodies. The bakery is a completely gluten-free facility, as the owner has Celiac. I was incredibly pleased to hear that many of her items are also dairy free and on occasion, she bakes Paleo items. Cole’s also does baked goods for Huckleberry’s.

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An assortment of cupcakes and truffles. The pink frosted cupcakes were also dairy free that day as were the lemon bars and a few other items.

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This sweet gal came out to show us the Mother’s Day cakes they’re working on. They take great pride in their work and ability to provide great, gluten-free food. And rightly so! Cole’s is family owned and it shows. I love that they have a Mission & Values menu on their website.

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Cole’s has a wide variety of delicious items to choose from and the owner and staff are friendly, generous with information, and generous with samples. They sell (all gluten-free) cakes, pastries, cookies, breads and rolls, baking mixes, granola, home made cheese balls and crackers, lasagna, casseroles, soups and salads, mac and cheese…ALL made from scratch and whenever possible use Non-GMO and organic ingredients.

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Mom and I sampled the herb baguette, the sandwich bread, the granola, and angel food cake. It was all excellent!

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Honestly, we could have purchased one of everything and been content. Sadly, I knew I had to practice some form of self-control so mom and I settled on a loaf of fresh bread, the herb baguette, two cupcakes, and a bag of the granola. I would say that their prices are reasonable considering. We all know baking gluten-free, dairy free, non GMO, and organic is not an inexpensive adventure whether you’re baking at home or purchasing it from someone else.

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I couldn’t wait to get home to taste test again, take photos, and get my husband’s opinion. You may ask, “Why are you so excited over a gluten-free bakery?” I get excited about things like this because all gluten-free bakeries are not created equal. It is RARE that you find a bakery dedicated to being completely gluten-free, very rare. And it’s even more rare to find one with so many dairy free options. A gluten-free bakery is all well and good, but if you have multiple food allergies like most people with gluten allergens do or you’re Celiac and can’t eat in a contaminated facility, what good will it do you? It would be tough to cover all the food allergies of course, but Cole’s has gone above and beyond the norm to please their customers. And although they didn’t have any Paleo items that day, the fact that they offer them gets another two thumbs up.

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Her granola is dangerous. I mean seriously, I’m not supposed to be eating grains but I made an exception for that day by sampling all of the goodies I brought home for Tony. I’m going to have to send the granola out of town with him because it’s that good. Every time I open the pantry I have visions of a bowl (or several) with very cold almond milk. Mmmmm…. it’s torture. All of the seeds and nuts are sprouted (activated) and light and crispy. Her granola mix is 50% oat mixture to 50% nuts and seeds. I think it would be fantastic as gifts in baskets, stockings, or something fun and delicious to mail to friends and relatives.

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The breads had such a fantastic texture and flavor. Moist, not too heavy, great bounce back, yeasty flavor, and no strange slippery consistency when you swallow like so many gluten-free breads. Hands down, they were the best gluten-free breads I have ever tasted. Heads and tails over the ever popular Udi’s brand bread that we all dread but are basically forced to buy if we want a sandwich. Until now.

The bread was still warm when I got it home to sample it.

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Look at that…no cavernous holes that leave you with just crust for a sandwich like you often find in Udi’s bread.

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Impressive bounce back. No cracking. And even after it cooled completely and we made tunafish sandwiches, it still had the same texture and bounce back.

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The cupcakes we chose were like frosted pound cakes. Heavenly! I controlled myself and only ate half and left the other half for Tony.

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Tony sampled everything and also happily gave it all two thumbs up.

Please be sure to visit Cole’s. Not only because you’ll be missing out on a delicious and impressive experience if you don’t, but because it is family owned and they clearly take a great amount of pride in their work. Cole’s gets a resounding 10 from Gluten Free Zen and I look forward to sampling more items in the future.

Cole’s Fine Foods

Open 10:00 to 7:00 Monday thru Friday, Saturday 10:00 to 5:00

521 E. Holland, Suite 20, Spokane, WA 99218

You can order by phone at 509-413-1739 and you can find them online at:

www.colesfinefoods.com

www.facebook.com/colesfinefoods

or 

colesfinefoods @outlook.com

Grilled Lunch & Garden Therapy

8 Comments

2015-05-01 12.24.37

When I hear someone say they “hate” to garden, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I have to seriously question whether we are going to be able to be friends.

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What’s next…they’re going to tell me they don’t like to read either? Or they hate the sun? Or kittens and puppies are ugly? Chocolate is bad for you? Massages are horrible?

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But seriously, in my world, gardening is a privilege, a blessing, and an inexpensive form of mental health therapy that keeps my head from exploding and reminds me there is so much beauty to experience even right in my own back yard.

High tech gardening tool.

High tech gardening tool.

My mom is retired now and is really embracing gardening since she has some free time on her hands. We’ve been out and about searching for flowers for our yards, containers, and window boxes, picking up little items here and there.

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 We both get equally excited over an interesting plant or flower we’ve never seen.

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My Grandma, my mother’s mom, was an amazing gardener. Some of my fondest memories are of her garden or me stopping by and finding her digging in her garden with a big floppy sun hat. I can still smell and feel her garden when I think about it. So many gorgeous flowers and neat little surprises tucked here and there.

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Surprises that people who “hate” gardening would never notice or appreciate, sadly. My heart aches for them. Picking fresh vegetables out of her garden and eating them right on the spot and snacking on raspberries off of her bushes was a true treat.

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I was never ever told “no” if I wanted to pick something or discouraged from digging or poking around. And to this day, I have never been able to find a plum or apricot that tasted like the ones on her trees. Just being in her garden was a pure blessing in itself.

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The house we’re in now doesn’t have a lot of ideal gardening space. Tony wanted low maintenance “flower” beds that are full of rock, so I’ve had to improvise with raised bed containers for my vegetables and herbs. The downside is that I can’t plant as much as I’d like, but the upside is that with it all contained, there will be less weeding, if any.

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For the last couple of days I’ve been planting things here and there.

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We are having a very rare for us, early spring. I planted my vegetable seedlings 2 weeks ago and now each day new sprouts are coming up. I’m going to try something different this year. Every time I pull something to eat, I’m going to plop another seed in. If we continue to have a long growing season, then that should give us veggies clear into late Fall. We’ll see how it works.

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Spending a day in the garden is my all around, heal everything salve. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the smell of fresh earth… Deer are milling around in the hills. Robins are hunting for worms in the grass. Abigail is sunning herself. That peaceful feeling…there’s nothing like it. And as if those things aren’t reward enough, you get to watch things grow and change. It’s extremely satisfying.

Add a grilled, relaxing lunch out on the patio to a gardening day, and you really can’t get much closer to a perfect day.

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Grilled Chicken Legs

5-6 Chicken legs. Place them in a plastic bag with about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, about 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, a good amount of Sriracha, about 1 Tablespoon of coconut sugar, about 1 teaspoon of sea salt, about 1 Tablespoon of dried oregano (or fresh)…and marinate for 2 hours before grilling on medium.

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Grilled Yellow Squash

 1 Squash cut in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil, season with garlic powder and sea salt. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. I used rosemary and thyme. Grill to aldente.

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