Sunday, June 28, 2009

Balsamic Salad Dressing

Since going GF I have become accustomed to reading the label for everything we buy. If you don't have any diet restrictions you maybe haven't done this. It's an eye opener. There are some things that have so much stuff in them that don't seem to resemble food. I try to eat with the thought in mind: "if it's not food then don't eat it." Over time I have noticed that my tastes have changed. One item that always has lots and lots of stuff in it is bottled salad dressing. I can not stand the taste of it now. The vast majority of them have soybean oil in them as a base. I really dislike anything with soy. I think it tastes funky. So I always make my own salad dressings. The variety and possibilities are endless. It is a fraction of the cost of buying it. You can make small amounts so you don't have to worry about it expiring. Then there is the whole thing with buying more things that will eventually cause more trash. Best of all, homemade salad dressings taste way way way better than bought!!! And it only takes a minute to make them. Here is one of my favorites.

Balsamic Salad Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
pinch of celery seed
2 tsp agave nectar
fresh ground pepper

These are approximate measurements. I never measure when making salad dressings. Just wing it and adjust to your tastes. Mix everything in a mason jar and your good to go!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beans Beans the Musical Fruit....

Every time I think about making beans I can hear my dad saying that little rhyme. You know the one right? Anyway, in an effort to try to eat a healthy GF diet AND not go broke we are trying to incorporate more beans into the rotation. We always have them on hand and while I have always liked beans I have trouble coming up with different and satisfying ways to make them. This morning I came across this site. It is awesome. I have never seen so many bean recipes. At the top of the page you can choose the type of bean you are interested in making and then your choices are narrowed a bit. There are so many recipes here, like 4521 of them, that it will be hard to choose. If it is good I will pass on what I made. And once again, I am grateful for my pressure cooker!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Low Carb Banana Nut Muffins

My new favorite thing is coconut flour. Do you know about this? I had seen a few recipes with it and I had seen it at the store but I had disregarded it because it was a bit pricey and I already have approximately 3 dozen different flours. How many flours must one have, right? Well, this one is a must. I started reading about it's benefits. When I got to the part that said it was seriously low, low carb and was considered a nut flour, I was sold. I ordered some right that minute. I got mine here. It arrived quickly and I have been baking nearly everyday for the last week. When I was pregnant with my first and third babies, oddly not the second, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This was really unfair. I have absolutely no family predisposition, I am white, and my BMI is on the low side of normal. My only risk factor was being old, 32 at the time. The first time I had it I even had to take insulin shots. That really sucked. I was told at that time that since I was insulin dependant that there was a 50/50 chance that I would become a type II diabetic within 5 years. Well, lately I have noticed that I just can't tolerate high carb meals. I feel that familiar lethargy and thirst. Combine that with that video I posted a week or so back about how sugar effects the brain.... Anyway, I have to change the way I eat. Even more so than I already have. So, I made these this morning. They are gluten free, dairy free and sugar free. With my calculations I think these muffins are about 9 carbs a piece. If someone comes up with a different number please let me know. Additionally, they got the kid stamp of approval.

Banana Nut Muffins

3 mashed over ripe bananas
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

6 eggs
4 T coconut oil melted
3 packets Truvia
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cashews chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin liners with paper or oil pan. Mix first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Then mix next 8 ingredients in large bowl. Then whisk in coconut flour. Whisk until smooth. Fold in bananas and cashews. Fill 12 muffin tins nearly to the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kim's Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Whole Grain Bread

I think the most common complaint about being on a GF diet is the loss of wheat bread. If you have ever bought a loaf of gf bread you know what I am talking about. It is hideous. It has a funky texture, you can not eat it if it isn't toasted, it falls apart, it has to be kept in the freezer and for all that you pay a fortune. On top of all that, it is nutritionally void. it is usually made of white rice flour and tapioca flour. Metabolically speaking, those are nothing but sugar. And fiber...ugh, none. Wouldn't it be nice to have yummy bread again? Well, here it is. I have been asked several times to post this recipe. It has taken this long because I was going to save it and then figure out a way to market it and then make my millions. ;) Yes, it's that good, in our opinion. But since I will probably never get to that here it is. The directions look like this is really involved. It isn't. I have just added all the little options and possibilities.

I have posted a revised simplified version of this same recipe. There are fewer ingredients and the result is the same. If you want to combine several flours for a varied nutritional profile then use this recipe. If you want speed use the simplified one.

Kim's GF, DF Whole Grain Bread

3 large eggs lightly beaten
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup oil of choice (canola, olive, corn, coconut, grapeseed etc)
1 1/3 cup milk of choice - unsweetened (rice, hemp, almond, cows) warmed to about body temperature
1T +1 t honey
3 T brown sugar

1/2 cup millet,sorghum, quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat (choose one)
1/2 cup second choice of flour - millet, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat (choose one)
1 cup multi grain rice flour, brown rice flour or my favorite teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup corn starch (potato starch works too)
3 t xanthan gum
1 1/2 t salt
2 1/4 t dry active yeast
optional add ins:
flax seeds
sesame seeds
sunflower seeds
add in a total of about a 1/4 cup


Combine first 6 ingredients in bread maker pan. Sift next 7 ingredients and then add it on top of liquid ingredients. Toss in your add ins. Make a little well in the dry ingredients and add the yeast in to the hole. Start the bread maker. I do not have a bread maker that has a setting for gluten free bread. So during the initial mixing part I help it out a little. I use a soft spatula and scrape down the sides and help everything get all mixed in. GF bread needs less time as there is no need for additional punch downs like with wheat bread. My machine allows me to program in personal recipes so I use the following settings:
No preheat
Knead 1 = 5 minutes
Knead 2 = 15 minutes
Rise = 60 minutes
Bake 50 minutes
Temp 340 degrees

This makes about a 1.5 lb loaf and I always used to make this bread on the regular bread setting and it turned out fine. I now use my own program just so that I can speed up the process. It takes about 1 hour less my way. One other thing I do is remove the paddle after the mixing is done. I just don't like having the hole left in the middle from it. I just wet my hand, reach in and grab it, then smooth the top down, filling in the hole. Just make sure you grab it before any rising has started.

This recipe is really forgiving. I routinely mix and match the flours. I usually make this without any rice flour as I am not convinced that rice is terribly healthy. Besides, if you use much rice flour then you get the typical texture of gf rice bread which I don't like. Depending on which flours I use it will alter the look and texture as well as taste. We like them all. Often the bread rises really well but by the time it is finished baking and cooling it will fall a bit in the middle which will create an uneven top. We couldn't care less how it looks because it tastes GREAT. My mom eats gluten and she loves this bread. So much so that the last time she came to visit I baked her a loaf to take home. I have been making this for nearly 2 years and although it looks pretty involved it goes pretty quickly. Recently I bought a loaf of gf bread because I wanted to make turkey stuffing and that was just more convenient. It was approximately $6 per loaf! And it tasted like styrofoam to me. I could not eat it. Not even toasted. And this was the only bread that I used to be able to choke down, best of the best so to speak. My bread can actually be eaten as bread instead of toast. (I could never eat the store bought stuff unless it was toasted.) As with all gf baking, it is best on the first day but it is still good after several days. You could slice and freeze to use as needed but we usually eat it all in 2-3 days.
*xanthan gum: if this is your first time baking gluten free bread, you might not be familiar with this ingredient. This is needed for most gf baking. It is what replaces the gluten in wheat bread. It's what holds everything together. When you buy this be warned it is kind of pricey but it is essential and it will last a long long time.
**gf flours are expensive. We have found a way around this to some extent. We will buy 25 pound bags of several whole grains and then grind our own flour. We decided to go this route since CD is a lifelong diet change, the grinder etc will pay for itself over the years. We either get the grains directly from the mills online or we get it from our usual health food store. Given a little notice the local store can order it for us and then we get a discounted price from them. It is also safer to do it this way as there is no possibility of cross contamination from those bins and scoops. We use this online company. On their site they also have some great information on nutritional values of the grains they sell. We also bought our grain mill here. They have several different ones available. Another option for buying gf grains is to go to an asian supermarket. The one we have here is incredible. They have every possible flour. They are also much much cheaper than getting those 1 1/4 lb bags of flour from your grocery store. The only problem is that they are not labelled gf. So if that is important to you then you could try online retailers as well as a health food store or grocery store but you will pay a little (or a lot) more for that certification.
Edited July 20/09: I have had several people contact me asking how to make this bread without a bread maker. Honestly I hadn't tried, until today. I was really winging it with the mixing times, rise times, baking temp and baking time but it turned out perfectly. Like picture perfect. So here is what I did today.

I put the first 6 ingredients in the bowl of my kitchen aid. I mixed on low speed for a few seconds just until it was all mixed. Then I added everything else with the exception of the flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and yeast. I mixed that for 2 minutes on medium speed. I added the remaining ingredients and mixed for another 2 minutes while occasionally scraped down the sides. I sprayed a glass bread pan and let it rise in my oven with the oven off but the oven light on. (Although here in Arizona simply leaving it on the counter is sufficient.)I let it rise for 40 minutes. I took it out of the oven and preheated the oven while it continued to rise.
I baked it for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Here is what it looked like. I wish you could taste this!!!
So, yes it can be done and yes it turns out perfectly. A couple other things I did with this loaf (yes, I am forever playing with this recipe) I omitted the apple cider vinegar, I used whole goats milk, subbed potato starch for the corn starch and used just teff and sorghum flours as the base.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Nutrition and Behavior - Video

This video is fascinating. Definitely worth the time to watch. It talks about the effects of diet on brain function. Dr. Blaylock has summarized a ton of studies in this presentation. It really is making me look at food in a different way. Please take the time to watch and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pumpkin Custard Squares

I have 3 kids who seem to be living on air. They won't eat. I am so frustrated that I have resorted to disguising healthy food as dessert. I made these squares today and 2 of the 3 kids liked them. They are gluten and dairy free with no refined sugar. I am going to pretend they are good for us.

Pumpkin Custard Squares


1 1/2 bags of gluten free ginger snaps (process in food processor to end up with about 3 cups of crumbs)

1/2 cup coconut oil


1 29 oz can pumpkin

1 tsp salt

3 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cardamom

5 eggs

1 cup honey

1 14 oz can coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cookie crumbs and coconut oil and lightly press into 9 x 13 inch baking dish. For the filling mix all ingredients well and pour into unbaked crust. Bake at 350 for 1 hr 10 minutes or until custard is set and toothpick comes out nearly clean. Let cool and refrigerate. And no, the topping on top of the square in the picture is not dairy free.