Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday pumpkin-garbanzo bean flour pancakes

It seems like a cruel joke to have to be on the anti-candida diet over the holidays. Every time I turned around someone was bringing over a gift bag containing candy, cookies or other sugary treats. I appreciated the gesture while my husband appreciated the treats.

I survived Christmas without succumbing to temptation and going off my low-carb diet. Now, it's on to phase 2--New Year's. The holidays truly are a difficult time for anyone who is watching what they eat. Avoiding carbs, as well as certain food allergens, just adds new layers to the difficulty level. My approach is to always take food with me. That way I won't be tempted to stray from my eating plan. It's not as much fun but at least, it keeps me well as I continue to battle my problem with candida.

I don't expect to start a new holiday trend but healthy foods, low in carbs, can actually be delicious. For Christmas breakfast, I enjoyed some yummy Pumpkin-garbanzo bean flour pancakes. These gluten-free, egg-free pancakes can be eaten any morning but make an extra special breakfast for Christmas or New Year's. They also are super easy because you can bake them in the oven all at once and use less oil.

Pumpkin-Garbanzo Bean Flour Pancakes
(makes 8 medium-sized pancakes)

Ingredients:
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 cup pumpkin puree (You can use canned.)
2 T. canola or other healthy oil
In place of 1 egg: 1 T. flax mixed with 3 T. water to form a slurry
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1-1 1/2 cups water
Extra pumpkin puree
Pure stevia powder
Toasted pumpkin seeds

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to mix. Add the pumpkin puree, oil and egg or egg replacer of your choice. At this point, the mixture will be thick. Begin adding water to thin the mixture to a consistency somewhere between pancake and muffin batter. I used about 1 1/2 cups. The batter will still be thicker than regular pancake batter because the garbanzo bean flour absorbs water. Set aside.

Spray a large cookie sheet with pan spray. A little oil may be placed on the pan if desired. Place the pan in the oven for a few minutes to heat the oil. Once heated, spoon the batter with a ladle or large spoon onto the pan. Leave a little room between pancakes because they will spread out slightly.

Bake the pancakes for about 10 minutes per side. Serve hot with a topping of pumpkin puree mixed with stevia powder to desired sweetness. Sprinkle a few toasted pumpkin seeds on top.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quinoa cookies

I was doing some holiday baking this week when suddenly it occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to eat or even taste test any of the cookies I had baked. That's because of my lovely problem with candida, a fungus that lives in our bodies and feeds on carbohydrates. The higher the glycemic index, the more the candida thrive.

It suddenly became a challenge for me to come up with a cookie that I could eat and not go off the anti-candida diet. I decided to adapt a recipe for quinoa sunflower seed clusters that I posted in February, 2008. My ACD-friendly version turned out tasty and satisfied my desire for a cookie. The clusters are a healthy alternative to cookies, contain lots of protein, fiber, whole grains and good fats but they still have carbs. Which means I need to eat just one.

Their main drawback is that they are a bit crumbly but I thought, what the heck, I can use the crumbs for a topping on carob tofu pudding. The crumbly aspect could probably be solved by using eggs, which I am allergic to, or by replacing canola oil with coconut oil or using more tahini in the recipe. I will try using more tahini next time. Here's the recipe:

ACD-friendly Quinoa Sunflower Seed Clusters

Ingredients:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 T. chia seeds
1/8 cup stevia powder (I used SweetLeaf)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 T. canola oil
2 T. tahini butter
Egg replacer for 3 eggs made by mixing 3 T. ground flax with 9 T. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the quinoa. Then, transfer the quinoa to a large, rimmed cookie sheet. Bake, fluffing with a fork occasionally, until the quinoa is toasted and golden, about 30-35 minutes. Place in a bowl to cool.

Spread the quinoa flakes on a baking sheet. Toast for about 5 minutes in the oven. Watch carefully because the quinoa flakes toast quickly. Add the flakes to the bowl with the cooked quinoa.

Toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet for about 5-7 minutes. Add the seeds to the bowl with the quinoa mixture.

Mix in the other ingredients, including the flax and water. Spray several large cookie sheets with pan spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter onto the sheet for each cluster. Flatten slightly. Bake, rotating, sheets halfway through, until crisp, about 25 minutes.

Allow the clusters to cool completely before transferring to a storage container. Remember they are a bit fragile compared to regular cookies. You might try using more tahini or coconut oil as mentioned earlier to solve the crumbly problem. They are yummy especially for those of us who need ACD-friendly treats. If you don't have a candida problem, refer to the original recipe at http://catsinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2008/02/quinoa-sunflower-seed-clusters.html


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Basil

There's nothing like a snowy day to make me start craving hot chocolate, brownies and other assorted carbs but instead I'm munching on spaghetti squash. It's been snowing all day here, and carbs have been calling my name.

But I must ignore them because I am still battling candida. I've come a long way in six months but every time I start thinking I can have a few extra carbs, my symptoms start returning.

I also thought I could indulge in a little caffeine but then, I don't know how to indulge just a little. Once I opened the caffeine door, I just wanted some every day. Candida definitely thrives on caffeine. At least, so it seems based on what happens to me every time I get started drinking hot drinks with caffeine.

Anyhow, a plate of spahetti squash seemed like a sort of compromise today: some carbs, but not too much. I have a plentiful supply of spaghetti squash that I grew in my garden this summer. I have been holding off eating them because they fall into the winter squash category which should be added sparingly to your anti-candida diet. I also have basil growing indoors in my AeroGrow, a spacesaver hydroponic garden. Here's the recipe.

Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Basil
(serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 small spaghetti squash
1 tsp. olive oil
2-3 T. fresh basil, finely chopped. Or use other fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, oregano.
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down in a baking dish. Add some water to the bottom of the pan and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Remove the squash from the oven, uncover and allow to cool slightly. Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Use a fork to pull out the squash strands and place in a bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the squash, herbs, salt and pepper. Toss and heat. Serve as a side dish.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shrimp roll-ups in collard leaves

Six months have passed since I first began the anti-candida diet (ACD). My blog has morphed from lots of gluten-free deserts and breads to recipes featuring mostly veggies and low-fat protein. I wonder if I will ever get back to being able to eat chocolate (without cheating).

I think I have to admit that all my years of antibiotics, sugar-free sweeteners, diet pop and coffee addiction have made me an extreme candida case. I believe I am stuck with the ACD way of eating for the long haul.

Many of my symptoms have completely disappeared or at least abated since I began the candida diet. I am able to eat soy and many more vegetables than I could before. However, some things remain the same. My stomach continues to be a mystery with flare-ups for no apparent reasons. (Okay, I confess; mostly because of eating too many fats.) I still avoid gluten, eggs, nuts and dairy. I still have animals in my kitchen; my orange Dennis the Menace, Pumpkin, and Kona, my canine floor rug. Yes, she is always in the way, sprawled out on the floor, in the doorways, wherever I am.

Winter is the most challenging time for me as I crave carbs more than ever. That's right. I still crave carbs/sugar, even after all this time. I doubt if that will ever change. I'm just hardwired for sugar. I've tried to satisfy my cravings with fats, like pumpkin butter, sunbutter, soybutter, tahini, coconut butter and black tahini, but it's just not the same. Some people are fat-aholics and I'm a self-confessed carb-aholic. The only thing I've gotten from the fats is digestive troubles.

This coming week I'm going to once again reintroduce some whole grains into my diet. I'm really looking forward to a hot steaming bowl of gluten-free oatmeal. I've also discovered that collard leaves make great replacements for tortillas or pita breads for wraps. Until I made this discovery, I used to buy collard and the poor collard would end up pining away in the fridge. I'd look at the stuff and say, "What am I supposed to do with it?" Now, I know: make collard leaf shrimp roll-ups.

Shrimp Roll-ups in Collard Leaves
(Makes 3-4)

Ingredients:
Large collard leaves with stems removed
1 tsp. grapeola or canola oil
Medium peeled shrimp, halved (about 10-12) Note: I get the precooked kind.
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
2 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. Bragg's amino acids

Directions:

Chop and shred the veggies and set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until soft. Add the veggies and saute until tender crisp. Add the shrimp and cook until heated. Toss in the chopped green onions. Drizzle with Bragg's amino acids.

To make the roll-ups, trim the collard leaves off their stems. Scoot the shrimp-veggie mixture off to one side in the skillet. Drop in a few collard leaves and heat slightly. Place the appropriate amount of shrimp-veggie mixture on each one and roll them up. Serve with a salad for lunch or dinner.

Note: Collard leaves also can be used to make great hummus roll-ups. Do you have some other ideas? Please post a comment and share.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tofu Omelet


My foot is all healed from the exploding Pyrex pan; the antibiotics are all finished; and the dreaded candida did not make a triumphant return. I guess I have a lot to be thankful for.
I believe the key to keeping the candida at bay was strictly following the anti-candida diet (ACD). It was difficult but I even made it through the Thanksgiving feast without cracking. My family gnoshed on the traditional foods while I ate mainly turkey and vegetables. I love turkey so it was all good. I also whipped up a pumpkin-tofu custard for dessert.
Something else I'm thankful for is I discovered you can use tofu to make omelets that taste almost like the real thing. I love omelets but I had to give them up long ago when I discovered I am allergic to eggs. Thirty minutes after seeing a picture of a tofu omelet on the internet, I was in the kitchen trying to whip one of my own up. This proved to be quite a learning experience.
My first omelet turned out being more like scrambled tofu. I was too eager and tried to flip the omelet too soon. I decided to try the oven instead as that always worked out better for me even when I used to make omelets from eggs. I used one of my oven-proof skillets; sprayed and oiled it lightly; poured in the some of the tofu omelet mixture; and popped it in the oven. It worked like magic. The tofu omelet stayed together instead of getting scrambled. It was almost perfect. Well, except that I left it in the oven a little too long, and it got a little too dark on top. Next time, I will have discovered all the secrets of cooking tofu omelets, and it will come out perfectly.
Here's the recipe for my Tofu Omelet with Veggie Filling (makes 2 large omelets).
Ingredients:
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 pkg. soft Silken tofu
1/4 pkg. extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 T. dried parsley
1 T. ground flax
2 T. tahini butter
2 T. garbanzo bean flour
To make the filling: saute the onions, peppers and zucchini in a sprayed or lightly oiled skillet.
To make the omelets: combine all the other ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spray an omelet-sized pan with pan spray. Make sure the pan is oven safe. Pour in 1/2 of the omelet mixture and spread to cover evenly. Place in the oven, preheated to 450 degrees, for 6-8 minutes. I left mine in the oven for 10 minutes and that was too long. So keep an eye on it.
If you're feeling adventurous, you also can cook the omelet in the skillet on the stove top but again I didn't have much success with this. So, if you do, let me know the secret.
To complete the omelets, spoon in some of the veggie filling and fold over. I hope you enjoy your tofu omelet as much as I enjoyed mine.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thai Curry Tofu


Warning: glass pans can be hazardous to your health. I hope this doesn't take your appetite away but yes, that's a picture of my foot about a week after developing blood poisoning from a wound inflicted by an exploding Pyrex glass pan. This picture shows my foot on the recovering end of the injury. You can use your imagination to picture how it looked seven days earlier. I was unable to walk, instead I just hobbled from chair to chair, which couldn't be far apart or I was writhing in pain.

All of this "fun" and I didn't even get to eat the chicken I had baked in the oven when the pan exploded and shot glass shards as far as 15 feet in my kitchen. But the hard part is over. Now, I just don't want to see others go through this same situation. Pyrex, now manufactured by World Kitchens, denies any wrong doing for any of the many complaints they have received. Instead, they attribute it to user error.

Oh sure, I'm a college graduate but I don't know how to properly use a glass pan. This reminds me of when I had a kickstand problem with my first mountain bike. It was a fairly inexpensive one and the kickstand was too short. I took it to the bike shop where I purchased it and explained that the kickstand wouldn't work. I was told I just didn't know how to operate a kickstand. You can imagine how well that went over. The bike shop received a very heated letter and shortly after that, they apologized and fixed the kickstand.

I've never had any problems with their pans until five years ago when I decided to replace some of my antique Pyrex pans (20-30 years old) with new ones. Three of these new ones have exploded either in the oven or upon being removed from the oven. Until the latest mishap, I had never been injured. If you are interested in reading more about exploding glass pans, go to http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/pyrex.html In the meantime, I am beginning to file complaints with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and State Attorney General's office as my first steps.

I'm happy to have my injury healing but I am not happy about having to take 14 days of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Every time I pop one in my mouth, I know I am risking having my candida problem reoccur. Candida flourish when good bacteria are killed off which basically is what antibiotics do: they don't discriminate between good and bad bacteria. They just gun them all down. My stomach definitely does not like the antibiotics. It has been all haywire since the first few days of using them.

You can't keep me from cooking though. Just don't ask me to use glass pans. This week everything curry seemed to go down well. Probably all those spices helped settle my stomach. My favorite was Thai Curry Tofu with Vegetables.


Ingredients for 2 servings:

1/2 pound firm or extra firm tofu(cubed)
Spice blend of 2 T. coriander seed, 1 T. cumin seed, 1 tsp. caraway seed (all crushed in a spice mill) plus 1 tsp. garlic powder, salt and pepper, 2 T. dried cilantro
2 cloves garlic minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, diced
6 asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut in half
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into small squares
1 T. Thai red curry paste
1/4 cup vegetable broth (Imagine makes a good broth that is unsweetened.)
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk

Directions:
In a large skillet, sprayed with pan spray, brown the tofu cubes, which were tossed in the some of the spice blend beforehand. Remove and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic, ginger and carrot. Saute for a five minutes with some of the vegetable broth added to the pan. Add the zucchini, asparagus and red pepper, and cook for a few more minutes. Remove and set aside.
Add the Thai red curry paste to the pan with the rest of the vegetable broth and stir until smooth. When it begins to bubble, add the soy milk (or use unsweetened coconut milk for more of a Thai flare) and blend. Add the vegetables and tofu back to the skillet and cooked for a few minutes.
Serve over brown rice if not on the anti-candida diet.





































Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin-Tofu Stoup

My latest challenge is having to go back on antibiotics again. For someone with candida, that would be the equivalent of being exposed to an especially virulent virus if you had a weakened immune system.



I guess I should be more positive because the antibiotics have knocked out the blood poisoning I had. But can you believe, this all happened because of cooking accident? I posted awhile back (10/24/09 ) about my run in with an exploding Pyrex baking pan. Glass shards shot everywhere including into my foot which produced a deep laceration.

Four weeks after the accident, my foot appeared to be pretty much healed when suddenly it swelled up and turned a deep purplish red around the area of the injury. Ice did nothing to stop the swelling, redness and of course, the pain. I was barely hobbling when I went to see the doctor the next day. The doctor seemed perplexed but the diagnosis was blood poisoning and the treatment was antibiotics. I didn't want to hear those words but once the red started going up my leg, I was glad I was taking antibiotics.

I decided to return to my anti-candida diet basics and give the candida absolutely nothing to thrive on while the antibiotics were busy killing off all my good bacteria. That might give me half a chance of not getting another candida overgrowth.

I have been grumbliBoldng all week about my foot but also about being reduced to just vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats once again. My complaining is mainly because I had finally gotten to the point on the anti-candida diet where I could loosen up a bit. In fact, last week, I wrote that my doctor had freed me from some the constraints of the ACD eating plan and told me to follow a low-glycemic diet.

Okay, I'm not going to complain anymore because six days after this all started I can finally walk on my foot again with minimal pain. There is no more swelling and redness, I can even wear a loose shoe for awhile.

I haven't really cooked anything yummy or delicious this week because I've mainly been eating salads with chicken or tofu sprinkled on top. I'm wishing I could cook up some Pumpkin-Tofu Stoup which I had the week before this all happened. Pumpkin, while shocked with beta-carotene and other great nutrients, is too high in carbs for me right now. I guess I will just drool as I post the recipe.

Pumpkin-Tofu Stoup (makes 2-3 generous servings)

Ingredients:

2 T. olive oil

1/4 cup chopped red onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp. minced fresh ginger

2 tsp. curry powder

1 1/2 cups peeled, cubed seeded pumpkin (I have several small pumpkins that I harvested from my garden that are just the right size.)

Optional: 1 zucchini and 1 red pepper diced

2 cups unsweetened, light coconut milk

1 pkg. extra firm tofu, cubed

1 T. Thai red curry paste (Use less if you can't take the heat.)

1 T. lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

In a large skillet or pot, saute in the oil the onion, garlic and ginger. Add the curry powder, Thai red curry paste, and pumpkin. Saute for several minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add some vegetable broth or water if needed.

Add the tofu and optional zucchini and red pepper. Simmer uncovered for another 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves. I'll be thinking of you while your enjoying this delicious stoup and wishing I were joining you.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Miso-veggie-tofu stew

My dog, Kona, is covering her ears in the picture above because she doesn't want to hear my excuses for why I have been eating fermented tempeh and miso paste while on an anti-candida diet (ACD). One of the first rules of the diet is: avoid fermented foods which contain mold and add to your candida overgrowth.

I guess I should explain that I only recently indulged in these foods on a limited basis (once a month) but only after I was retested for candida and found it was no longer a problem. My health care practitioner told me I need to continue to follow a low-glycemic diet but not necessarily avoid all fermented foods. I continue to avoid fermented foods, such as vinegar and wines, because I don't want the candida overgrowth to come back.

I would only recommend tempeh or miso if your health care practioner okays it which mine did. That lead me to indulge in Miso-Veggie-Tofu Stew. I also used just one tablespoon of brown rice miso for four servings of soup. It's very tasty but I only would recommend it if you don't have a candida problem or if you've been cleared by your doctor.


Miso-Veggie-Tofu Stew
(makes 4 servings)
Ingredients:
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 T. brown rice miso paste (up to 3 T. can be added but remember it is fermented)
1 quart vegetable broth (makes sure it contains no sugar)
1/2 pkg. extra firm tofu (diced)
1 zucchini (diced)
1/2 small red cabbage (chopped)
1 T. chopped green onions for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the veggies and cook until tender crisp. Add the miso and mix well. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and add the diced tofu and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes. Serve in bowls garnished with green onions, if desired. To make this a meal, add more veggies of your choice to the stew and up the protein content by adding protein powder of your choice.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Swiss Chard with Edaname and Soy Nut-Carob Fudge




Halloween can be a little dismal if you are following an anti-candida diet (ACD) and are still getting over the flu. It was beginning to look like pumpkin seeds were going to be the closest thing I was going to get to a treat. But I've learned that denying yourself can lead to cravings, splurges, etc. It just gets ugly if you know what I mean, especially when you have Halloween treats in the house for those trick-or-treaters.

I decided to take action to head off the cravings and came up with a most delicious little treat that actually has healthy ingredients. I called it my "No Denying Yourself Halloween Treat, AKA soy nut-carob fudge." Hey, I got to pick the name since the treat was my impromptu creation. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture. NO, not because I was woofing them down so fast I couldn't stop to grab a camera. I actually have most of the treats left, tucked away in the freezer, in reserve for another "special" occasion. The reason I don't have a picture is my husband absconded with our digital camera for an entire week while he was on a business trip. Now, that he has returned I can start snapping pictures again. In the meantime, I'll fill you in on my creation's recipe as well as another more everyday recipe.

Soy Nut-Carob Fudge

Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened soy nut butter
2 T. carob powder
4 T. soy nuts

Directions:
Melt coconut oil and soy nut butter in the microwave. Stir in the carob powder. Go ahead it's okay to lick the spoon because coconut oil is healthy for you. And it tastes sweet without adding any sweetener. Add in the soy nuts and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a small pan (not glass if you read my previous post about shattering glass pans). I used a 9 X 9-inch square pan and it was too big. You want your pieces to be fairly thick to aid in cutting them. Mine were too thin because of the pan's size.

Put the pan with its contents into the refrigerator or freezer to harden the fudge. Once the fudge is well hardened you can cut it into whatever size pieces you want. All I can say is it was delish! I had to limit myself to just two small pieces because coconut oil is high in saturated fat which is a problem for me as I have no gallbladder. I plan to wait a day and then dive in for another piece. Now I have a picture of the soy nut-carob fudge. As you can see, the pieces are not exactly beautiful to behold because I used a pan that was too big and it turned out too thin. When I make this again, I will use coconut butter instead of coconut oil which will make it smoother and more creamy.

Swiss Chard with Edaname (This recipe also qualifies as a Halloween recipe because it contains toasted pumpkin seeds.)

Ingredients:
One bunch Swiss chard washed and chopped (separate the stalks and leafy pieces into two piles)
2 garlic cloves minced
1 cup frozen shelled edaname (thaw them out by rinsing them with warm water)
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 T. pumpkin seeds (toast them in a hot skillet

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add in the garlic and saute. Toss in the chopped Swiss chard stalks only. Continue sauteeing until the stalks are beginning to soften. Next in are the edaname. Continue sauteeing until the edaname is warm. Lastly, put in the leaves of the chard and continue cooking until leaves are wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds just before serving.







Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kale-Tofu Salad

Vegan and vegetarian meals have become a main stay for me as I continue my anti-candida diet (ACD). I don't entirely avoid meat as I seem to feel better when I eat chicken and fish. I shop for poultry which is free of hormones and antibiotics because I definitely don't need to be eating foods with added antibiotics as these drugs were probably the source of my candida overgrowth.


Recently, I purchased a whole chicken from a local grower who raises free-range poultry. It was pretty expensive but I wanted to support a local farmer. About two weeks ago, I decided to roast the bird in the oven and serve a special meal for my husband, son and his friends who had come over to do some major car work for us for free.

The meal was about done when I removed the chicken from the oven to give it one last check. I had been roasting the chicken in a large glass Pyrex pan. To my amazement, the pan exploded when I removed it from the oven and placed it on top of the stove. Shards of glass flew everywhere including one into the side of my foot. At first, I thought my foot was burned until I looked down and saw a pool of blood on the floor. This deep laceration probably needed stitches but I didn't want to go to the emergency room on a weekend night when others with all kind of cold and flu germs were waiting to be seen. I decided to bandage it up, keep it elevated and check on getting a tetanus shot the next day when I already had a doctor's appointment.


The next day I was given a tetanus shot, although I'm not sure why as the injury did not involve metal or dirt. I got no explanation other than I needed one. I'd had many tetanus shots before so I wasn't concerned about it or about the fact that they gave me no information on possible side effects. Within hours, I started developing a hot, red rash all over my legs, along with terrible headache and aches all over my body. I would have assumed it was the flu if it hadn't been for the rash. I developed a similar rash and hives another time when I had a bad reaction to taking a medication.


The seemingly innocuous tetanus shot left me sick for about five days. That's when I decided to never cook anything in a glass Pyrex pan again. I also checked on the internet and found that exploding Pyrex pans were quite common. I was fortunate that the shard of glass had not hit me in a more vital area.


After this experience, it was "obvious" that eating meat was hazardous to one's health, and I concluded that vegan and vegetarian meals were safer to prepare. But not entirely so as I found out when I tried to bake some extra firm tofu slices in the oven. I sprayed the slices with pan spray. After they had been baking for awhile, the entire house began to fill up with smoke from the oven. Some of the smoke was from the pan spray and some from the residue left by the chicken in the exploding Pyrex pan. All the windows had to be opened on a fairly cold day to get rid of the smoke which made my eyes and chest burn. I guess this was a message it was time to clean the oven. Another clean-up job thanks to Pyrex.


Cooking on top of the stove now seemed like the safest bet. I decided to whip up some Kale-Tofu Salad. The inspiration for this dish came from my recent trip to northern Idaho and Washington and British Columbia. A co-op that I stopped in had a deli counter with a delicious-looking kale-cabbage-tofu salad. Unfortunately, I had to pass on it because it had mayo and cashews on it. Here's my own recipe:


Kale-Tofu Salad
Ingredients:
One bunch of kale, washed, trimmed and chopped
1/2 small red or green cabbage, chopped
1 block of extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 T. tahini
1-2 T. water
1 tsp. Bragg's amino acids
4 T. sunflower seeds

Directions:
Make a dressing by combining the tahini and Bragg's. Gradually, add water to thin the mixture out a bit. You want it to be creamy but pourable. Place the kale and cabbage in a large bowl.

Use half the tahini dressing mixture to toss with the tofu cubes in a separate bowl. Heat a pan and stir fry the tofu until warm. Add the tofu to the bowl with kale and cabbage, and toss with the remaining tahini dressing to coat all the ingredients. Add the finishing touch by mixing in the sunflower seeds. Now, you're ready to eat minus any exploding pans or smoky ovens.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seaweed noodles and veggie saute

Staying on an anti-candida diet (ACD) while traveling is not easy. There are too many tempting foods out there when you are away from home. It's especially difficult when you are on a bicycle tour in British Columbia where you've left not only home but your car far away.

Biking 60-70 miles a day up and over numerous hills (some with seven to eight percent grades) creates an enormous drain on your glycogen reserves. I wanted to feast on carbohydrates of all kinds but yet was determined to stay on a low-glycemic diet. This was especially difficult when watching my husband (who pursues a diet at the extreme opposite of ACD) eat every carb in sight, including brownies, cookies, ice cream. You name it. He ate it.

I did learn a lot about how to get ACD foods even while traveling and eating out frequently. My first lesson was that a salad in a restaurant is light-years away from a salad made at home. Apparently, few people order salads in restaurants and if they do, they don't want a man-sized salad. The result is you are lucky to get one cup of greens and a sprinkling of a few token veggies on top when ordering a salad. This was true not only in the U.S.-portion of our trip but also in British Columbia.

These puny "salads" also fetched a substantial price. Most of the salads I ordered were $8-$12 for next to nothing in the way of ingredients (usually chicken, greens, a few veggies). One time we even ate in a vegan/vegetarian restaurant and my salad was still itsy-bitsy. I remember when you actually could make a meal out of a salad. My husband on the other hand got enough to feed two or three people in the form of burgers, fries, potato salad, cole slaw, Philly cheesesteak, desserts, rolls (not all at the same meal but a lot) for less than what I paid.

After going away from a few restaurants still famished, I finally got sauvy on how to order. I would ask to trade all the sides that came with a piece of chicken or salmon for a giant bucket of salad, served with olive oil and lemon. It worked. I actually got pretty filled up. Sometimes, I was fortunate enough to find an eatery with an all-you-can-eat salad bar that actually had veggies not just mayonaise-laden foods, masquerading as salads.

I shopped in markets along the way to fill in the gaps in my diet not filled by the restaurant offerings which are sadly mostly high in refined carbs and not-so-lean protein. At markets, I would stock up on fresh veggies, low-glycemic fruit (berries), raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds, hummus, garbanzo or pinto beans, and tofu to eat for snacks. I also found frozen brown rice that I could thaw out for breakfast and unsweetened soy milk. I started the trip with a supply of low-carb crackers I made, quinoa, garbanzo bean flour, raw tortillas, liquid stevia, chia seed (I added it to soy milk with liquid stevia to make a treat) and olive oil to supplement my meals here and there.

Most motels we stayed in had a microwave and mini-fridge so that I could cook my breakfast in the room. Two places where we spent the night had a kitchenette. I discovered it is possible to make quinoa and garbanzo-bean flatbread in a microwave. It wasn't half-bad.

I actually stayed pretty well nourished but did find myself hungering for certain foods by the time I returned home. My stomach behaved itself quite well on the trip despite all the fresh veggies I consumed.

Another discovery I made was that for me, it's actually easier to behave myself on a trip than at home. That discovery inspired me to follow my trip diet as much as possible at home which means I would skip sneaking carob-coconut balls and extra helpings of garbanzo bean flatbread. I would focus on eating more raw veggies and vegetarian meals. With that in mind, I cooked up some Seaweed Noodle and Veggie Saute.

Ingredients:
1 cup seaweed noodles (come pre-packaged and ready to heat)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut in half-moon slices or wedges
1 medium carrot, cut in matchsticks
1 medium zucchini, cut in matchsticks
1/2 small green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 T. Bragg's Amino Acids (like soy sauce but not fermented)
1 T. toasted sesame oil

Directions:
Use a large skillet to heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute. Add the carrots and zucchini and saute. Add the cabbage and Bragg's and saute until all the veggies are softened. Add the rinsed seaweed noodles and cook to heat. Remove from the heat and toss in the sesame oil. Serve warm with chopsticks for a bit of Asian flare. Makes 2-3 servings.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coconut-Seed Cookies, Gluten-Free


I celebrated my birthday while pedaling 400+miles through Idaho-British Columbia-Washington on the International Selkirk Loop. I was desperately seeking a birthday treat that would fit my anti-candida diet (ACD) requirements (low-carb, no sugar). Yeah, it was definitely a bit delusional of me to even think I would find something but it was kind of like someone searching for water in the Sahara Desert. You just keep hoping that the perfect low-carb, no sugar, chocolate-mint brownie will appear out of nowhere. Finally, reality set in and I had to settle for a ripe avocado for my birthday treat. I found it at a convenience store, no less. I was actually pretty grateful since ripe avocadoes are hard to come by. But it was definitely no brownie. I vowed to celebrate with something "decadent" or at least as decadent as eating ACD allows me to be when I returned home. Here's what I came up with:
Coconut-Seed Cookies, Gluten-Free
Ingredients:
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/8 cup each ground flax seeds and Chia flour (or skip the mixture and use 1/4 cup flax)
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
2 T. carob powder (or baking cocoa which I should avoid.)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 T. olive oil
3 T. water
several drop of liquid stevia (alcohol-free)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with pan spray. Process the flax, chia and sunflower seeds to a fine meal in a food processor. Add the flour, carob powder and soda, and process again to combine. Add the olive oil, water and stevia, and process to form a moist dough.
Place the dough directly on the cookie sheet. Use moist hands to flatten it out to a 7 X 10-inch rectangle. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut the large rectangle into smaller rectangles for your cookies. Return the cookies to the oven and bake another 5 minutes until they are crisp and delicious. Cool and enjoy. Store the extras in the fridge. They keep well in the freezer.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gluten-free Tomato Tart

I love having a colorful array of red grape tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes and orange cherry tomatoes on my plate. It's visually appealing and delicious. The best part is I have an abundant supply of them right now in my garden. The only drawback I can think of is I have to pick them but it's worth the effort.

Finding ways to use up my baby tomato crop is no problem for me. I enjoy them on salads (now that I can eat salads again) and in stir-fries, kabobs, and with grilled veggies. I seldom eat pizza or anything like it because I am on the anti-candida diet (ACD) to remove excess fungus from my body, and restore the balance of good and bad bacteria.

But I couldn't resist trying my little tomatoes on a gluten-free tomato tart, just once during the tomato season. It was yummy and scrumptious but the crust had a light texture from the addition of baking powder and soda which was something different for me. I have been mainly eating, on occasion, garbanzo bean breads with no soda or baking powder added. Therefore, this tart was a real treat!


Gluten-free Tomato Tart

Crust Ingredients:
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 T. olive oil
2 T. tahini butter
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk

Topping Ingredients:

1/4 pkg. Silken tofu
1 T. olive oil
1 garlic clove minced
sea salt to taste
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1-2 cups grape, pear and cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Optional: parmessan, feta or goat cheese (Not for me on the ACD diet.)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with pan spray.

In a large bowl, combine the garbanzo bean and rice flour. (Note: you can change the ratio of rice to bean flour. More rice flour will give the crust more of a light, airy texture.) Add the flax seeds, baking powder and soda, and salt. Blend and set aside.

In a food processor, blend the tahini, olive oil and soy milk. Pour into the larger bowl with the flours and stir to blend.

Using wet hands, press the dough into a rectangle or best approximation, about 12 X 7 inches. directly onto the cookie sheet. Wet the hands again if necessary. Ridge the edges of the dough with your fingers. Bake the dough for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, blend in your food processor, the Silken tofu, olive oil, garlic clove and salt. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the tofu sauce evenly over the crust. Arrange the basil leaves and tomatoes on top of the sauce. Put the tart back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or so. The time may be longer if you decide to play with the ratio of flours. Basically, the more rice flour you add, the longer the baking time. Remove from the oven when the tart is just getting slightly crispy.

Cut into about eight pieces. Serve alongside a nice garden veggie salad.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Curried tempeh

Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchinis, melons, green beans, oh my! That's 475 pounds of produce from one day's picking from our community garden in the photo above. The garden is on a half-acre piece of ground and has produced so much without the aid of fertilizer or chemicals that I feel like an organic farmer. By season's end, we should have harvested 4,500 pounds of produce and 1,500 pounds of pumpkins at a value of about $4,000. However, the garden is not for profit but rather to benefit the local Salvation Army.

The fact that we have provided organic produce to families in need makes me feel especially good. I recently read an article in the Aug. 31 issue of Time magazine, "America's Food Crisis and How to Fix It." The article focused on U.S. farming practices where produce is grown with tons of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and meat animals are dosed with antibiotics and growth hormones. The goal of the article was to get us thinking about changing the way our country grows and consumes food because right now, we are on track to scarier germs (from antibiotic overuse in meat animals), eroded farmland and higher health costs.

After reading that article, I felt even better about the organic produce our garden has yielded. It also got me thinking about the meat I eat. I've always opted for conventionally grown meat because of the high cost of organic. But after reading the article, I realized that all needed to change. I don't eat that much meat, mainly fish with chicken and turkey sprinkled in here and there. So, I decided it wouldn't break the bank to eat organic poultry. Actually, it might save me money in the long run if I stay healthier because of it.

At the same time, I decided to add more vegetarian meals to my diet. One of my new favorites is curried tempeh, pictured below. It makes a great dinner or anytime meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) for someone like me on an eating plan where carbs are kept to a minimum. It's also a great way to use up some of my garden produce (herbs, tomatoes, onions, zucchini). Note: I only recently added tempeh back into my diet because I was rechecked for candida and it was at a normal level again. Even so, I only eat tempeh occasionally. Tempeh is a fermented food and should normally be avoided by those on an ACD diet unless they have been cleared by their doctor. At least as far as I know, that is the case.


Curried Tempeh (2 servings)
Ingredients:
1 package tempeh (I used organic, multi-grain soy tempeh.)
1/2 cup vegetable broth (Read the label for added sugar if you are doing ACD.)
2 T. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger (I used about a one-inch piece of ginger root.)
1-2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1 tsp. garam masala spice
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (Other alternative milks works too.)
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 handful chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
Optional: cooked brown rice
Directions:
Crumble the tempeh into a large skillet and add the vegetable broth. Heat over medium heat until broth bubbles. Then, lower the heat, cover the skillet with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the tempeh and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and zucchini, and saute. Add the tomato, cumin, bay leaves, cardamon, garam masala, turmeric and coriander, and cook one more minute. Lower the heat and add the soy milk and tahini. Stir to mix; cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the fresh herbs and heat for just a bit more. Serve over hot rice. Another option is to serve over stir-fried veggies for a more ACD-friendly meal.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chocolate-Avocado Tarts


What do you do when you are up to your eyeballs in fresh produce from your garden? You get busy making all kinds of concoctions with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, green beans, cantaloupes, carrots, beets, etc. If you are a gardener, you know what I'm talking about.
But you also might want a chocolate-avocado tart for dessert to go along with your garden veggie meal. Well, at least, I did, and it turned out absolutely scrumptious as a post meal treat. My photo above does not do its "deliciousness" justice. I discovered that avocadoes, which I love, make a great base for a dessert where you cannot use flour, eggs, dairy/butter or sugar. This avocado tart has inspired me to explore other chocolate treat possibilities with avocado as an ingredient.
Chocolate-Avocado Tart (makes 2 five-inch tarts or 4 smaller ones)
Crust:
1 cup shredded, dried unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 T. tahini
1 T. cacao nibs
Filling:
1 ripe avocado
10 drops stevia (alcohol free); use 2 T. agave nectar if you are not following the Anti-Candida Diet
2 tsp. chia seeds
2 T. dark baking cocoa
3-4 T. unsweetened soy milk
Spray the tart pans with pan spray or line with parchment paper. I used tart pans with removable bottoms so I got away with just using pan spray.
In a food processor, process the coconut, seeds, cacao nibs and sea salt into a coarse meal. Add the tahini (almond butter or sunbutter will work too) and process to combine to a dough-like consistency. Press the "dough" along the bottom and up the sides of the tart pans. It helps to wet your hands to keep the "dough" from sticking to your hands.
In the same processor (not necessary to clean before going on), blend the avocado, baking cocoa, chia seeds, stevia and soy milk until very smooth. Spoon the mixture evenly into your tart pans.
Freeze the tarts until firm. Remove them from the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fruit or additional cacao nibs. I didn't have individual-sized tart pans so I cut each larger tart into four pieces but don't be shy about eating more. It's hard to resist!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Veggie soccas (garbanzo bean flatbread)



I've made it through Phase 1 and part of Phase 2 of the Anti-Candida Diet (ADA)
but I still crave dessert, not necessarily sugary desserts. I've eaten so much carob tofu or carob chia pudding, sweetened with stevia, (see previous post for recipe) that I'm surprised I haven't turned into carob pudding. Another of my favorite treats is carob-coconut-tahini balls. You just mix in a food processor about 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut with 1 T. of carob powder, 2-3 T. of tahini, 1 T. of chia seeds and 1 T. of toasted sunflower seeds. Roll the mixture into balls and freeze before eating (if you have enough willpower) because they are better cold.
Something else I crave is garbanzo bean flatbread, known as soccas in southeastern France and farinata in Italy. It's hard not to consume it all when it comes out of the oven, all crispy around the edges from olive oil. I recently discovered a variation that allows me to use veggies in it which makes it healthier. This version also gives me a chance to use a lot of fresh produce from my garden. You can use zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions or even broccoli in it. I like to eat soccas with a veggie burger on top or as a cheeseless pizza or even in place of a piece of toast at breakfast. An added bonus is they are super easy to make. You can whip some up in less than 30 minutes.
Veggie Soccas (enough for a large cookie sheet)
Ingredients:
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. each ground turmeric and ground cumin
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 T. soy milk
1 onion, chopped
1 green or red or yellow peppers, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of fresh herbs, basil, cilantro, parsley, thyme, etc.
2 T. olive oil
pan spray
1 1/4 + cup water
Directions:
Combine in a large bowl, garbanzo bean flour, soda, salt and pepper, spices, 2 T. olive oil, soy milk and water to make a pancake-like batter. You may need additional water. You want the batter to be flowing. Stir in the chopped onions.
Heat the oven to 480 degrees. Preheat a cookie sheet, sprayed with pan spray and drizzled with 1-2 T. additional olive oil in the oven. Remove the heated pan from the oven. Pour the batter on the pan. Tilt the pan from side to side to spread the batter around. Evenly sprinkle the diced veggies and chopped herbs over the top of the batter. Place the pan in the oven and set your timer for about 12-15 minutes. Remove the soccas from the oven when the batter is set.
Soccas are best eaten warm in fact, I can hardly wait to get them out of the oven to have a taste. Cut the soccas into whatever size rectangles or other shapes you want. While best eaten immediately, the soccas can be stored in the fridge and reheated in a skillet, sprayed with pan spray. They are still absolutely delicious!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chia seed parfait

Ch-ch-chia! I recently discovered that chia seeds are edible and incredible, and not just for Chia Pets, those clay pot designs that sprout "hair." Chia seeds have become one of my favorite foods. Packed inside them is all kinds of healthy stuff (protein, omega-3 oil, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and calcium) but the thing I like best about them is they are good for your digestive tract.

Anyone with digestive issues might want to give them a try. They contain 90 percent soluble fiber which aids in digestion. I've had a slow digestive system for many years but since I started eating chia seeds, my stomach actually empties instead of food hanging around for hours and hours.

Some other benefits: the seeds provide energy, improve hydration, lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease, stabilize blood sugar, and provide the daily requirement for fiber and vitamins.

Another advantage is the seeds form a gel when added to water and are allowed to sit for 30 minutes. This property of the seeds provides all kinds of culinary opportunities because you can use them to thicken liquids or batters, and they really have no taste of their own. You can sprinkle them on cereal, oatmeal, salads, smoothies or yogurt, or mix them in muffin or other baked recipes.

My favorite recipe for chia seeds is chia seed pudding, which is basically like tapioca pudding with chia seeds doing the thickening. You can make the basic chia seed pudding or get fancy and try a parfait, pictured below, or add shredded coconut, whipped topping or fresh fruit. It's all good, even for someone on the anti-candida diet, like myself. I just use liquid, alcohol-free stevia as a sweetener.

Basic Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients:

2 T. chia seeds

1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid of your choice: plain or flavored soy, rice, hemp or other milk

1-2 tsp. agave nectar or 5-7 drops of stevia liquid

Options: add 2 tsp. carob powder or cocoa powder, pumpkin puree.

Directions:

Place the chia seeds in a container and add the liquid. Stir well to submerge most of the seeds. Allow to sit 20-30 minutes but continue stirring every 5-10 minutes. Stir again before eating.

Tips: You can mix up the chia and liquid and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator. I also found that heating your liquid before adding the chia speeds up the thickening process.

To make a parfait: prepare vanilla chia seed pudding, and carob or chocolate chia seed pudding and layer. Sprinkle shredded unsweetened coconut between layers. Ch-ch-chialicious!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Roasted vegetables with fresh herbs




For those of you who haven't visited my blog in awhile, I thought I should explain that my recipes have taken a new direction. I have embarked on an anti-candida diet for the past three months. This means my recipes have to follow the guidelines of that eating plan, rather than be strictly gluten-free or on a rotation schedule. The anti-candida diet (ACD) is basically a nutritional means to reduce candida albicans yeast that's present in our bodies, food and environment. In some people (those who have taken excessive amounts of antibiotics or who have comprised immune systems), the yeast can multiply out of control.
The ACD program recommends starving the yeast by cutting out any foods that feed it or encourage it to grow to reduce the candida to a "normal" level. The strictest version of the diet would eliminate:
  • Anything containing sugar;
  • Simple carbohydrates, such as flour, cakes, cookies, breads, etc.;
  • Foods that contain mold or fungus, such as yeast, mushrooms, peanuts, cashews, cheese;
  • The most common food allergens, such as dairy, eggs, wheat, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts;
  • Foods that are fermented (alcohol, vinegars, all condiments including ketchup, mustard, soy sauce);
  • Anything artificial, processed, containing chemicals or additives, imitation or artificial seasonings flavorings and colorings;
  • Soda pop, fruit juice, pre-sweetened drinks, coffee, tea (except herbal teas).

What's left to eat, you are probably wondering? Actually, there are quite a few healthy, tasty choices including:

  • All vegetables except starchy ones (winter squash, and heaven forbid, no corn. It's not really a vegetable anyhow);
  • Whole, gluten-free grains (brown rice, quinoa, amaranth);
  • Beans and legumes;
  • Some nuts and most seeds;
  • Water;
  • Natural, cold-pressed oils, such as olive oil;
  • Lemon and lime juice;
  • Stevia (a natural herbal sweetener that does not affect blood sugar levels as long as it's alcohol-free);
  • Unsweetened alternative dairy beverages, such as soy milk;
  • Some fruit that has a low-glycemic index such as berries and cantaloupe.

There are quite a few slightly different versions of the ACD eating plan. One suggests you follow a rotation diet, where you never eat a particular food more than once every four days. It's a bit impractical, especially where you've already cut out a number of foods. However, I continue to try to rotate grains, proteins and some veggies but I'll admit not very faithfully, especially during the gardening season where certain ones are in profusion.

I do love fresh vegetables (zucchini and green beans) and fresh herbs (basil), and all are permitted on the ACD plan. Both also happen to be in abundance in my garden right now. And fresh herb nut that I am, I also have basil growing in my indoor aero-grow garden, pictured above.

Roasting veggies with basil or other herbs is something simple and delicious I enjoy making. The roasting process imparts a completely different flavor to veggies for a change of pace from steaming.

Sheree's Recipe for Roasted Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of fresh veggies, such as zucchini, peppers, green beans, yellow squash, asparagus
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil or other herbs
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 T. olive oil
  • pan spray

Directions:

  • Preheat the broiler or outdoor grill;
  • Spray several cookie sheets with pan spray;
  • Peel and chop veggies and herbs as desired;
  • Place veggies in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil;
  • Spread veggies on pans and sprinkle with chopped herbs and garlic;
  • Place in the oven or grill for 5+ minutes until veggies are tender crisp.



















































































Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fast veggie burgers with food processor





















I recently invested in a new food processor, and I decided to go for the kingsize model. I learned the hard way that a small food processor really doesn't save you much time when you constantly need to be re-loading it.

A small one also is much noisier because it's working harder to get the job done. In the past, I always had to warn household members that I was about to launch the noise machine because otherwise, it could be quite startling. Even my feline pal, Pumpkin, would run for cover when I turned it on. Now, as you can see by the photo, above, Pumpkin could care less about my activities in the kitchen.


Fresh salsa was a snap with my new purchase, pictured left. Then, I decided to venture into making veggie burgers which has always been a time-consuming chore with my petite food processor. I picked a ton of fresh produce from my garden and decided to put the new machine to the test. Not counting the time taken to pick and wash the produce, it took me about 15 minutes to have the veggie burgers ready for the oven. In the past, I could plan on at least 45 minutes prep time.

My blog has taken a bit of a shift since I went from IBS/gluten-free/rotation diet to low carb/candida cleanse diet. I haven't been sharing many "carbilicious" recipes, although I continue to follow a gluten, dairy-free plan. But these veggie burgers are great because they will fit with any of these diets. Check out the recipe and directions below.



Fast Veggie Burgers




Ingredients:

1 cup cooked, drained beans ( I used pinto beans made from scratch but canned ones such as garbanzo, black or white beans will work.)

2 cups chopped veggies ( I used carrots, celery, red and green bell peppers, 2 medium zuchinis.)

1 small red onion, cut into chunks

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 T. raw pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup fresh cilantro (no need to chop)

1/2 cup fresh basil

1/2 tsp. each dried tarragon and dill

1/2 tsp. salt and black pepper

1 tsp. ground flax seeds

1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour (You also can use any other mild-flavored gluten-free flour.)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a pan with nonstick spray.

Throw everything except the flour in the food processor. (Previously, I had to chop the ingredients in batches.) Blend the ingredients until almost smooth. (This part was so cool especially working with such a large amount of ingredients.) Begin adding the flour and pulsing to combine. If the mixture is too wet, add a little more flour. (I was seriously impressed by how easily everything was mixed.)

Shape the mixture into about 12 large burgers and place on the sprayed cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes, flip them and continue baking another 10 minutes until lightly browned on the other side. Extra burgers can be freezed.

Serve on gluten-free buns or flatbread or roll into a tortilla f you are not eating low carb. Or roll into a large lettuce leaf for low carbers. Try putting a little Thai red or green curry paste on top for a really zingy veggie burger.






















Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cacao nibs/chocolate stevia: my new chocolate fix

Cacao nibs and chocolate SweetLeaf liquid stevia are my two new favorite ingredients for getting my chocolate fix while on an eating plan with certain restrictions. With these ingredients, I can still enjoy a chocolate treat while still staying dairy, gluten and sugar-free.

Cacao nibs are absolutely amazing. They have a nutty taste, almost like coffee beans, and are packed with lots of nutritional benefits and antioxidants, and are low in carbs, and high in fiber and protein. Nibs are actually bits of cacao beans before processing. It doesn't take many to satisfy your taste which is a good thing since they have approximately 160 calories per one ounce and cost about $8 per pound when bought in bulk.

Another way to get your chocolate fix is with chocolate liquid stevia. You can add it to soy milk to create chocolate drinks or to silken tofu to make the delicious pudding pictured below.

Chocolate tofu pudding with cacao nibs
Ingredients:
1 pkg. silken tofu
3-4 T. cocoa powder
4-5 drops chocolate liquid stevia
1 tsp. espresso powder
cacao nibs
Directions:
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until blended. Version 1: blend in some cacao nibs before chilling. Version 2: chill and garnish with cacao nibs when serving.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stir-fry brown rice with seeds

I'm only allowing myself one serving of whole grains per day on the candida cleanse diet. I recently tried a recipe that was so good I'm having a hard time limiting myself to just one serving. It's called Stir-fry Brown Rice with Seeds.

Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked brown rice, cooled
1/2 T. olive oil
4-5 green onion stalks, chopped
1 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and seeds and cook until seeds are lightly browned.
Then stir in cooked, cooled rice. Stir fry all until toasty and warm. Makes a delicious side dish or even the centerpiece of breakfast.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Green Beans and Rotation Diet Past


It seems like very long ago that I was following a rotation diet but it really has only been three months. The rotation diet worked for me for awhile but as I later found out candida ( a fungus overgrowth) was sabotaging my efforts and making me increasingly sensitive to everything, including foods, chemicals, etc.
A rotation diet can be a useful tool for someone who keeps developing new food sensitivities. The idea is to keep your body guessing by never eating the same foods more than once every four days. However, it might be a good idea to thoroughly examine why you are developing new food sensitivities before plunging into a rotation diet because yes, it's a real pain. In my case, candida was causing my body to "misfire" so to speak but there are other causes such as "leaky" gut syndrome.
I thought it would be helpful to look back at my rotation diet for anyone who is considering trying one. Let's see how well I can remember. Day 1 was amaranth or soy flour for grains/flour; chicken or tofu for meat/protein; black or pinto beans for legumes; green beans, carrots, cucumber, peppers, spinach, onions, artichokes, winter squash, sweet potatoes for veggies; tomatoes, cranberries, mango, grapes for fruit; pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Day 2 was oatmeal or buckwheat for grains; some sort of white fish or shrimp; no legumes; bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, kale for veggies; apples, cherries, nectarines, pears for fruit.
Day 3 was quinoa grains or flour; turkey for meat; peas or garbanzo beans for legumes; beets, beet greens, swiss chard, zucchini, yellow or white potatoes, celery, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms for veggies; blueberries, kiwis, papaya, pomegranate for fruit. Day 4 was salmon for meat; brown rice for grains; no legumes; cabbage, brussel sprouts, bamboo shoots for veggies; strawberries, peaches for fruit.
It seems kind of limiting now that I can eat what I want with the exception of what I am allergic/ sensitive to. It's a much shorter list these days but still includes gluten, eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and corn. Who knows I might be able to eventually incorporate a few of these back into my diet.
For now, I have a much broader range of foods I can eat provided they are low carb. That brings me to a recipe I tried this week: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Green Beans and White Beans. It's flavorful and loaded with a ton of nutrition including protein and potassium.
Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, regular or red
2 cups water
2-3 cups green beans, trimmed and cut. Or you can try a bunch of asparagus.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
Salt and coarse black pepper
1 (16-ounce) can low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 T. minced green onions
salad greens
2 T. chopped fresh basil
Directions:
Preheat the over to 425 degrees. Cook the quinoa according to instructions. Place in a large bowl to cool. Arrange the green beans and red pepper on a sprayed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 T. olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Add the white beans, roasted pepper, celery, scallions, roasted green beans, chopped basil, and cooled quinoa. Toss gently to combine. Serve on a bed of salad greens.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cole slaw, veggies and potassium

A long ride on one's bike can be difficult at best when you are on a low-carb diet. Add in hot weather that leads to copious sweating and loss of potassium, and you've got the makings of a leg spasm in the middle of the night.

This kind of painful contraction in the back of your leg that results from over exertion and loss of potassium recently awakened me from a deep sleep. It wouldn't settle down easily so I was forced to get up, walk around and massage my leg before I could return to bed and get back to sleep.

The same scenario repeated itself for several nights in a row before it dawned on me what the problem was. I wasn't consuming enough foods with potassium. But how could I up my potassium if I couldn't eat foods like bananas and other types of fruit? That's when I decided to do some research. I discovered there are tons of other foods besides bananas that are high in potassium, including lots of veggies, fish and meat. Some high potassium foods that mesh with my current low-carb diet include: Swiss chard, beet greens, spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe, salmon, cod, turkey, soybeans, lentils and white beans.

More than half of the foods on that list are vegetables, naturally low in carbohydrates but yet high in potassium. It occurred to me that I had a potassium gold mine at my fingertips---our community garden, pictured above. Our lush veggie patch has been churning out cucumbers and zucchinis at 300 plus per week as well as beet greens and chard so far. Most of the pickings have been going to the Salvation Army to help those in need. Soon there will be cantaloupe, tomatoes and green beans, all good sources of potassium.

My potassium problems were solved. All I had to do was incorporate more of the good stuff into my cooking. I was in the mood for a fish taco with cole slaw. How could I pump up the veggies and get more potassium? I came up with my super-duper potassium cole slaw.

Super-Duper Potassium Cole Slaw
Ingredients:
1/2 head each of green and red cabbage, chopped
3 unpeeled zucchinis shredded
2 cups broccoli slaw
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup silken tofu
salt and pepper
2 tsp. lemon juice
1-2 drops liquid stevia
4 pieces of grilled cod, rubbed with spicy rub of garlic powder, chili powder,dry cilantro, salt and pepper


Directions:
Prepare the veggies for the cole slaw. Place in a large bowl. Mix up the dressing, including tofu, lemon juice, salt and pepper, stevia drops, in a measuring cup. Pour over the veggies and mix thoroughly. Place the slaw in the refrigerator to chill.

Meantime, prepare the grilled cod. Rub with your favorite spices. I like garlic powder, chili powder, dry cilantro, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and grill under the broiler or on the barbecue.

Serve the cod on a bed of slaw (with or without a taco shell or tortilla) and soak up a bounty of good taste and potassium.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Spicy carob toasted garbanzo beans


A friend's e-mail telling me she was sick with the stomach flu filled me with dread recently because I had been sitting next to her at a two-hour-long meeting just a few days earlier. The stomach flu was something I didn't need or want as I have spent the past several months getting my stomach functioning more like a normal one.

True to form, I came down with whatever was going around about a week later. The experience gave me flashbacks to the symptoms I had experienced on a day-to-day basis prior to my discovery that I had candida, a fungal overgrowth that can affect many systems in your body, including your stomach. When my stomach was still misbehaving after a week, I began to worry that it wasn't just the flu. Maybe my improvement had all been a fluke. I even experienced depression briefly until I got my head on straight and reached for some extra probiotics to get my gut back on track. A bigger dose of probiotics (50 billion) worked like a charm.

I also discovered something important about taking probiotics. Take them on a empty stomach and you'll see better results. My health care providers had always told me it didn't make any difference if you took them with food. Make sure you have the ones coated with enteric if you are taking them on a empty stomach. Enteric prevents the capsule from being dissolved before passing into the intestines.

I did find myself craving foods with a combination of salty and sweet while my stomach was screwed up. The problem is how to get that combination when you're on a low-carb diet. I came up with a bit of solution by toasting some garbanzo beans that had been tossed in spicy mix of salt, carob, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Here's the recipe.

Spicy Carob-Toasted Garbanzo Beans

Ingredients:
1 can of garbanzo beans drained and rinsed (I get the kind with no added sugar. Yes, believe it or not, they even add sugar to beans.)
1 T. toasted carob powder
1/2 T. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
dash of cayene powder
pan spray

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the drained garbanzo beans in the spice mix to coat. Spread the garbanzo beans on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with pan spray. Toast the beans in the oven for about 20 minutes or longer. Turn the beans about halfway through. Remove them from the oven when they are dry and crunchy and have a nut-like texture. Allow the beans to cool and then transfer them from the pan to a storage container. For some added crunch, toss in 2 T. of toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds. This snack stores well in the refrigerator for up to a week as you nibble away at it.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Beet greens and tofu

My poor little beets were too crowded in my garden. It was time to do some thinning this week, and the end result was a giant bag of beet greens with teeny tiny beets. I tried to give away some but there were no takers. Everyone already had their own plethora of beet greens. So what does one do with them? I decided to try a beet green and tofu scramble. It was actually quite delicious and nutritious. The recipe follows.
But first, I want to talk about soy milk versus hemp milk. I love both of them because they are great substitutes for cow's milk which I cannot use. Both are similar in taste, texture and nutrition but soy milk wins in the category of mixing with hot liquids. If you like milk in your tea or coffee, definitely stick with soy. Hemp milk separates every time you add it to a hot beverage which tends to make your drink less appetizing. Fortunately, since I did the candida elimination protocol, I can tolerate soy again. Hemp milk works well in everything else but give me soy milk in my tea any time.
Those who are getting rid of candida, as I am, need to stick to the unsweetened versions of both which makes for a huge savings in calories. Admittedly, the unsweetened versions aren't very tasty by themselves but that's easily fixed with a drop or two of stevia.
Beet Greens and Tofu
Ingredients for one serving:
8-10 beet tops washed and chopped
Two-fifths of a block of firm tofu cut into cubes
2-3 minced cloves of garlic
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Heat 1-2 tsp. of olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook until softened. Toss in the tofu and stir fry until crispy. Add in the beet greens and cook just until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle on a little more olive oil.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gluten-free panini sandwich

Candida is one tough hombre to beat but I'm hanging in there. Why? I've seen so many positive improvements in my health, both physical and emotional, since I set out to defeat candida. I have to eat low carb but I can eat so many things that I never would have thought of eating before and with no consequences. I have more energy and look and feel better than I have in years. I feel more positive about my health and the fact that I will continue to get even better.





With that in mind, I thought why not build a meal around two foods, alfalfa sprouts and cucumbers, that had been on my "no way" list prior to going on the warpath against candida. I came up with the Mediterranean sandwich with two versions, low carb and lower carb. The first, pictured above, is a gluten-free panini made with garbanzo bean flatbread and a whitefish salad. The second, below, is the same thing minus the flatbread with lettuce leaves in its place. The recipes for the fish filling and mock garlic aioli needed for the filling are below.



Mediterranean Panini Sandwich with or without gluten-free bread

Ingredients:


2 cooked whitefish filets or 1 can of water-packed tuna


1/3 cup chopped artichoke hearts (canned, water-packed)


1 T. chopped fresh chives or basil


2-3 T. mock garlic aioli (recipe below)


1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper


garbanzo bean flatbread (recipe at: http://catsinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2009/04/garbanzo-bean-flour-flatbread.html ) or large lettuce leaves


alfalfa sprouts


cucumber slices


red or green pepper slices (optional)


For garlic aioli:


Blend in food processor: 1 package silken tofu with 4-6 cloves of fresh garlic, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil, 2 T. lemon juice, 1 tsp. mustard powder



Directions:


Mix fish (either cooked and cooled whitefish or drained tuna), artichoke hearts, chives or basil, garlic aioli, salt and pepper. Spread fish mixture on one piece of either garbanzo bean flatbread or lettuce leaves. Top with cucumbers, sprouts, pepper slices. Top with another piece of flatbread and heat. Or roll over your lettuce leaf and chow down.











Saturday, June 13, 2009

Garden meatballs with basil

The community garden is going strong. Since the above picture was taken, the zucchini plants have produced baby zucchinis. I'm really excited to sample a little of this and that from the garden. Veggies are my long-lost friends since my stomach got a makeover thanks to a candida cleanse. I'm eating all kinds of veggies, cooked and uncooked. I even came up with a recipe to use veggies in ground turkey meatballs. I call them "Garden Meatballs" because you can use what you have from the garden.
Garden Meatballs with Basil
Ingredients:
1 pounds ground turkey
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 large red bell pepper chopped
1/2 red onion chopped
salt, black pepper to taste
2 T. olive oil.
Directions:
Prepare the veggies and chop finely in a food processor. Add the ground meat, salt, pepper and olive oil and mix. Shape into meatballs. Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet and cook the meatballs. Turn them carefully at first.
Serve with pasta and sauce if not eating low-carb as I am because of candida. I served them with roasted veggies which provides another opportunity to use veggies from the garden. Try other veggies from your garden in the meatballs for variety.