Monday, December 29, 2008

Dark Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Chocolate is one of those indulgences it would be hard to live without. Some individuals with stomach problems, such as mine, must do so or suffer the consequences. Fortunately for me, I can have chocolate on my own terms. That means only occasionally and without dairy, gluten or eggs, and seldom in the form of a dark chocolate bar. So to get my chocolate fix, I resort to blending it with tofu, sweetener and dark baking cocoa to make a delicious and simple dark chocolate pudding. I continue to follow a somewhat tweaked rotation diet so I would only eat something with soy, as this desert contains, every fourth day.
Dark Chocolate Tofu Pudding
Ingredients for one serving:
One fifth package of soft or silken tofu
1 T. of Wax Orchard's Fruit Sweet or 1 tsp. of Agave syrup (or to taste)
1/2-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-2 T. dark unsweetened baking cocoa powder (use more or less depending on preference)
1-3 T. alternative dairy beverage of choice (soy, rice or hemp milk)
Note: Ingredients may be doubled or tripled depending on servings desired.
Measure and place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into desert cup and enjoy! As an alternative, place the chocolate tofu pudding into the freezer and freezer until semi-frozen for a yummy frozen treat.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Spaghetti Squash with Hearty Turkey Sauce

I had to go on a marathon car trip this week. Seven hours in the car both ways in two days. Not a good thing for someone with stomach problems. First problem is the amount of sitting time with not much moving around, Exercise is essential for someone with digestive issues. You want to keep things moving so to speak. Second problem is the temptation to eat "bad" stuff for you when stopping in restaurants.
Here's my solution to the first problem. I knew the winter weather (temps in the teens or below with the wind chill) would prevent getting out of the car to take a few walks here and there along the route. With that in mind, I got up really early and did a sizeable chunk of my exercise before leaving. I did some additional exercise upon arrival. I followed the same plan for my return day. It wasn't perfect but it helped A LOT!
Food was a more formidable problem. Our travel route had mainly "Mom and Pop" cafes that offer typical American foods, such as hamburgers, chili, club sandwiches, etc. I would be lucky if I found anything that was "safe" for me to eat. My solution: pack my own food. I spent several days ahead of departure cooking extra food, such as soup, to take along in an ice chest. While my traveling companions chowed down on their burgers, etc, I pulled out some of my food and enjoyed a healthy, safe meal. Our servers were very agreeable when I explained the situation.
Again not perfect but better than being sick either on the trip or for days after returning.
I was definitely ready for something other than soup when I returned. One of my favorite recipes is Roasted Spaghetti Squash topped with Hearty Marinara Sauce. It replaces regular spaghetti noodles (which you can use instead because they are available gluten-free) with spaghetti squash, which is low-calorie and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. I also still have a plentiful supply of them from my summer garden. Here's the recipe:
Ingredients for 4 servings:
2 small/medium spaghetti squash halved (Use 1/2 per portion)
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
1 small can tomato paste
1 onion chopped
2-4 garlic cloves minced
3 peeled and chopped carrots
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 bottle red cooking wine
Dried or fresh oregano, basil, parsley
Olive oil
Halve spaghetti squash lengthwise. Scoop out seeds from centers. Place the squash halves on a sprayed baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place in a oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the chunky marinara sauce. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add in ground turkey and brown up with a little salt and pepper. Remove the cooked ground turkey. To the same skillet, add and heat a little more olive oil. Saute chopped onion and garlic. Add in other chopped veggies (carrots and mushrooms). Continue sauteeing until soft. Add in a 1/4 cup red wine and tomato paste. Sprinkle in desired herbs. Cook until heated through. You may need to add more cooking wine to get desired consistency. Keep in mind it's going to be thick and chunky.
Serve by placing a spaghetti squash halve on each plate and top with a generous portion of the sauce. Sprinkle the top with more herbs or parmessan cheese if you can eat it (I'll pass on the cheese and stick with lots of fresh basil). It's delicious!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Buckwheat Groats Pilaf

This picture looks exactly like last week's photo because it is. Last time, I posted the recipe for the spicy mustard-glazed veggies. This time, I will share the recipe for the other side dish on the plate: Buckwheat groats with mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and thyme. I served this dish with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It makes a great gluten-free substitute "stuffing." Here's the recipe:
Buckwheat Groats with Mushrooms, Balsamic Vinegar and Thyme
3 cups cooked buckwheat groats (also called kasha)
3 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced red onions
2-3 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 T. water
1 tsp. dried thyme
To prepare the buckwheat groats, heat 1 T. of the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add 1 cup uncooked buckwheat and toast by stirring in the pan for a few minutes. Then, add in 2 cups of boiling water. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Check the buckwheat after about 15 minutes so that it doesn't get overdone.
In the meantime, heat the remaining oil in a heavy skillet. Add in the onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add the sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and saute over medium heat until mushrooms are browned.
Stir in the vinegar mixed with water and the thyme. Cook until liquid is most evaporated. Add the cooked buckwheat and heat. Add a little water if needed and season with salt. Serve hot with turkey, chicken or fish.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Spicy mustard sauce for roasted veggies

This winter I feel like I've become like my cats, always seeking out the sun. In their case, they are looking for a warm spot to lounge in. For me, I'm after Vitamin D which has been linked to so many functions in our bodies. I've been taking Vitamin D supplements for almost a year now as well as getting as much outdoor sun as possible every day to see what affect it might have on my stomach problems. I also invested in a light box this fall which I try to use up to two hours a day. I have it on when I'm doing computer work or doing my daily yoga workouts.

The results have been amazing. The fall/winter months have always been my worse for bouts of stomach issues. I would say this year stomach problems have been consistent throughout all the seasons. I'm not saying I don't have any difficulty but on a bad to good scale of 1 to 10, I'm calling most days a 6-8 whereas last winter I labeled most days a 1, 2, or 3. I do have to really watch what I eat. For me, that means no cheating of any kind. I also exercise religiously because that has a positive effect as well. Right now, I'm giving the sunlight and Vitamin D a thumbs up.

Life's looking pretty sweet. As an added bonus, I found a recipe for a spicy-sweet mustard glaze that makes roasted veggies absolutely delicious. Here's the super, easy recipe.

Spicy Mustard Dressing
1/2 cup spicy mustard
3 T. olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 T. maple syrup

Mix all the ingredients together. Cut up veggies such as brussel sprouts, carrots, onions, cauliflower, zucchini or winter squash or potatoes. Toss with spicy mustard sauce and then roast in the oven until tender. Another version would be to roast the veggies first and then toss them in the dressing. Try it both ways and see which one you like best. This dressing will make you want to eat a whole plate of veggies.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chocolate-dipped frozen pears

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. I try not to overindulge at Thanksgiving or other holidays because I know what that will do to my stomach. I usually limit my menu to just a few items rather than going for the full spread as many people do. It's still a Thanksgiving feast with roasted turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted winter veggies, a dab of homemade cranberry sauce and a pumpkin-tofu custard. There really aren't that many leftovers other than turkey because I don't make that much. That's my trick to keeping my stomach happy and keeping the weight off.

In the days that follow, I can make up some of those additional sides that I like and serve them with the turkey leftovers. That way I don't feel cheated or deprived. I can still eat them, just not all of them at the same time.

I try not to eat a lot of sweets but I admit I like to have something sweet every day. One of my favorites is chocolate-dipped frozen pear slices. It's very simple to make and really satisfies the need for something sweet without breaking the calorie bank and messing up your stomach.

Chocolate-dipped frozen pears

Peel and slice one or more bosc or other favorite pears. Dip the ends of each pear slice in a little chocolate sauce. I use Wax Orchards Fat-free, Fruit Sweetened Fudge sauce because it's vegan and delicious. It contains only fruit juice concentrate and cocoa, and has about 45 calories per tablespoon. Place the pear slices on a wax-paper lined plate and place in the freezer to freeze. Thaw the slices out slightly to eat and yum!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yummy, sticky lemon chicken

I've discovered there may be some link between fewer hours of daylight per day and increased IBS/stomach problems during the fall/winter months. Each year, as the amount of daylight diminishes, my stomach problems increase. And in the spring to summer, as daylight increases, the stomach problems diminish.

This time of year, it's not because of inactivity because I try to keep my physical activity as constant as possible. I also eat exactly the same way. So the only difference is daylight.

This has perplexed me for years. But last winter, I started taking Vitamin D and although I didn't see immediate results, I definitely saw an improvement. This year, I'm continuing the Vitamin D and now experimenting with a light box. I've been working up to two hours a day around the old light box. So far, it's not a miracle cure but I feel better. I'll see how it goes and keep posting.

In the meantime, here's an unbelievably yummy recipe to try. It's got a lot of lemon so be careful if you're sensitive to lemon/citrus. I am a little because citrus stuff can make my mouth break out if I eat it too often. But "Yummy, Sticky Lemon Chicken" is one of those once-every-so-often indulgences.

Yummy, Sticky Lemon Chicken

Serves 3-4


2 chicken breasts halved (or a combination of thighs, chicken breasts to equal four pieces of chicken)

Sea salt and black pepper

2 T. olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (remove leaves)

1 T. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 T. gluten-free soy sauce

1-2 T. Wax Orchards Fruit Sweet (made totally from fruit concentrate; just as sweet and lower in calories) or Agave Nectar (You also can use honey.)

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Fresh Italian parsley chopped ((about 1/2 cup)


Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Brown the chicken with the garlic and thyme for 2-3 minutes on each side. Add the wine vinegar and bubble until reduced by half. Drizzle over the soy sauce and sweetener of choice and shake the pan to mix.

Pour in some hot water and add the lemon slices. Let the liquid bubble and reduce down until syrupy about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and sprinkle over chopped parsley. Serve with steamed brown rice and green beans. And lick your fingers!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pear sorbet

Pears are wonderful for everyone but especially for individuals with stomach issues. I can eat pears with no problems as long as I peel them. Even peeled, they are still loaded with lots of soluble fiber and great flavor. The best part, they are available in abundance this time of year. I've been getting mine from a local organic grower I've been visiting throughout this year's growing season.

Pear sorbet is one of my favorite recipes for pears. I get lots of soluble fiber and a low calorie sweet treat. Here's the super easy recipe:

Ingredients for two servings:
2 pears peeled, cored, sliced and frozen (Bartlett or Bosc are two of my favorite varieties.)
1-2 T. fruit juice sweetener (I use Wax Orchard's fruit sweet.) Or use 1-2 tsp. of agave nectar or other sweetener
1 cup crushed ice
1/2 cup ice cold water

Thaw the pear pieces out just slightly. Put frozen pears, crushed ice, sweetener and water in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is blended into a nice sorbet-like consistency. Serve immediately in desert dishes with sprigs of mint.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Easy kiwi-mint sorbet

Other projects have kept me from blogging in awhile but now I've returned and am ready to get back to business. Fall is kind of a pins and needles time of year for me. In the past, it has been when my stomach starts treating me badly after taking a hiatus during the summer. I think part of the problem is my fall allergies are pretty severe which tends to weaken my immune system making me more vulnerable. Summer also lulls me into thinking I've got this thing whipped because I'm feeling pretty good and I start going off the strict dietary wagon, so to speak.

But this year has been different. I have had a few moments here and there but so far I'm holding my own. I attribute this to sticking with my rotation diet and my regimen of taking Vitamin D daily. I'm also trying a daily pumpkin seed oil tab because as an anti-inflammatory, it is supposed to ease IBS symptoms. Fall has just gotten under way: I'm being a good girl in terms of diet; and time will tell.

In the meantime, here's a refreshing desert that's very kind to a sensitive stomach because it's loaded with mint: Kiwi-Mint Sorbet (serves 1)


2 medium kiwis, peeled and quartered

small palmful of chopped fresh mint (Use less if you don't like a lot of mint taste)

1/2 cup crushed ice

1/4 cup ice cold water

1-2 tsp. agave nectar or other sweetener


1. Peel, quarter kiwis and freeze until slightly firm on a tray in freezer. Or freeze kiwis pieces ahead of time, remove from freezer and thaw slightly.

2. Wash and chop fresh mint leaves.

3. Put semi-frozen kiwi pieces, crushed ice, cold water and sweetener in a food processor and blend. Add a few mint leaves at a time and pulse. Taste. Add more mint depending on personal preference. I like mine really minty.

4. It should form a smooth sorbet-like consistency.

5. Serve in an ice-cream dish, garnished with a sprig of mint.

6. If kiwi-mint sorbet is too soft, freeze until slightly firm in the freezer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Salmon with apricot salsa

I've been enjoying an abundant harvest of apricots from a neighbor's tree this summer. And thanks to my stomach functioning well, I can even eat them with the skins. I'm hesitant to proclaim victory in winning the war of the stomach but I can say the rotation diet has definitely made an improvement. I also added one Vitamin D tablet to my daily routine many months ago, along with a probiotic with every meal. Many individuals have Vitamin D deficiency as well as insufficient beneficial digestive bacteria. Both are linked to numerous health problems. I know I'm feeling better than I have in years.

I'd be happy to share more information about the rotation diet with anyone who is interested. It's really not all that complicated once you get into the routine. And it's all right if you occasionally go off of it. I do all the time when I travel.

The salmon with apricot salsa actually is a rotation diet recipe. Individuals with IBS or other stomach issues may have to remove the apricot skins and cook them until just heated. I didn't remove the skins but I did saute the apricots and onions in the recipe. Here's the recipe and directions.

Salmon with Apricot Salsa


2 T. olive oil

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1 pound apricots

2 T. lemon juice

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

1-2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 to 1/2 seeded and chopped jalapeno is optional (I'm allergic and it doesn't belong on this day's rotation diet plan.)

4 salmon fillets

Rub of choice for salmon: I combined 2 T. sea salt, 2 tsp. ground cumin, 2 tsp. coriander seed, 1 tsp. Spanish paprika, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. black pepper, and rubbed it all over the fillets.


Toast the mustard seeds in a skillet with a little oil. Pour the seeds into a medium sized bowl and let cool slightly. Halve and pit the apricots. Then dice the apricots and chop the onion. Saute the diced onion and apricots in a little oil in the same skillet. Saute until just tender. Don't overcook. Add the sauted onion and apricots to the bowl with mustard seeds. Toss in lemon juice and cilantro. Chill for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.

Meantime, prepare the salmon to be grilled or pan fried. Rub the salmon all over with the rub and allow to set for a bit before cooking. Then, grill in the oven or on a barbecue or pan fry. Top with a little olive oil during the cooking process. Serve with a wilted greens salad and topped with several tablespoons of apricot salsa. I recommend wilted greens because fresh salad is often not tolerated but most sensitive stomachs. Ignore the fact that I pictured the salmon in the photo above with a fresh salad. That was my husband's dinner and it looked prettier than my wilted salad.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cod with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I'm pretty much back to normal after my run-in (allergic reaction) to antibiotics with sulfonomides. A friend of mine in the medical field warned me to never take them again because a second reaction would be even worse. I told her not to worry. Even a nice cash bonus for taking them would not entice me a second time.

I did find some absolutely delish vegan mayo that I've been using on everything. It's that good. I've tried other vegan mayos before but nothing compares to Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise. I used my newly discovered "safe" mayo to make a sun-dried tomato topping for cod fillets. You'll love this recipe both for its delicious taste and simplicity of making. And it's all safe for individuals with IBS or other digestive issues.

Cod with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (served with Roasted Potato and Asparagus Salad)

Ingredients for Cod:
1 pound cod fillets
8 sun-dried tomato halves, not oil-packed
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise (or other vegan mayo)
2 T. chopped parsley
1/8 tsp. pepper

Ingredients for Roasted Potato and Asparagus Salad:
6 medium red potatoes, cut into quarters
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
8-10 chopped sun-dried tomatoes
8-10 chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease or spray two glass baking dishes or other oven pans. Soak tomato halves in 1 cup boiling water for about 5 minutes or until softened. Drain and finely chop. Reserve for later. Toss potatoes with 1 T. olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread on a baking pan and bake until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Steam asparagus pieces in boiling water for about 4 minutes or until tender. In a large bowl, mix vinegar, mustard, 1 T. olive oil. Add potatoes and drained asparagus pieces. Toss to coat. Mix in 1/4 cup of the sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil. Set aside.

Place fish on pan and bake for 8 minutes. In the meantime, mix the remaining sun-dried tomatoes with 1/4 cup vegan mayo, parsley and pepper. Remove fish and spread some of the sun-dried tomato topping on each fillet. Reserve any extra for serving with the fish. Bake the fish 4 minutes longer or until topping is light brown and fish flakes easily with fork.

Serve fish alongside a bed of wilted greens topped with potato salad and roasted broccoli spears. Yum! Even a fish skeptic will love this dish.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Salmon burgers

An allergic reaction to medicine is no fun as I found out last week. I reacted to an antibiotic, Trimetho/sulfamethox, which contained sulfonamides, with an all-over skin rash, stomach problems and heart irregularities. What fun! I was sick for about five days before I returned to "normal." I was taking the antibiotics for a sinus infection, fortunately the antibiotics did their job on it before doing a number of me. It surprised me to discover that most reactions occur between 8-10 days of taking an antibiotic. And here I thought I was safe.

I didn't have much energy but I really wanted salmon burgers for some reason. I propped myself up in the kitchen and went to work. It was worth it. Here's the recipe.

Salmon Burgers with Dill Potatoes and Cabbage Slaw
(Serves 2)
For the salmon burgers:
2 salmon fillets, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
Egg replacer for one egg
1 T. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. g/f hot sauce
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 shallot minced
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
Olive oil for cooking

Place the salmon in a food processor and pulse until minced. Put the salmon into a bowl and add the egg replacer, fish sauce, hot sauce, garlic, shallot, ginger, lemon juice, cilantro, mint, salt and pepper, and quinoa. Fold the mixture together. Using lightly oiled hands, form the salmon mixture into 3-4 patties. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. In the meantime, prepare cabbage slaw and roasted dill potatoes.

To pan fry, add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Cook 2 salmon burgers at a time. Cook about 7 minutes total, turning half-way through. Serve with chilled cabbage slaw and oven-roasted potatoes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mediterranean Chicken with Olives

Antibiotics can really do a number on your digestive system as many of those who have taken them know. I am on my third round of antibiotics to clear up a sinus infection. You'd think with my stomach issues that I'd be experiencing severe digestive distress at this point. But I have been shocked and amazed that my stomach hasn't had a reaction. I attribute it to avoiding my trigger foods with a vengeance and taking probiotics with every meal. I don't want to push my luck so I am hopeful that a few more days of antibiotics and my sinus infection will be history.

I was craving something Mediterranean for dinner this evening after I picked fresh arrugula in my garden. I don't know why arrugula made me think Greek food but it did. I came up with a recipe, called Mediterranean Chicken with Olives, that contains lots of my favorites: artichokes, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives. You can sprinkle some feta cheese on top as well if you can tolerate cheese. I used the arrugula in a wilted arrugula/spinach/red onion salad.

Mediterranean Chicken with Olives
(serves 2)


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup red wine

1/8 cup olive oil

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

2 T. oregano

6 sprigs fresh thyme with leaves removed

4 chopped garlic cloves

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. sea salt

2 T. chopped Kalamata olives

2 T. agave nectar

2 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 can quartered artichokes

6-8 grape tomatoes, halved

feta cheese (optional)


In a large skillet, heat 1 -2 T. olive oil. Saute garlic. Add chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides. Then add oregano, thyme, red wine, red wine vinegar, additional olive oil, olives, agave nectar, lemon juice. Reduce the liquids down about half by cooking on medium high heat. Add in the artichokes and grape tomatoes. Heat well. Reduce temperature and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve chicken topped with artichokes, grape tomato sauce. Sprinkle with feta cheese if tolerated.

Make it a complete Mediterranean meal by serving the chicken on top of a bed of cooked quinoa (my substitute for coucous) with garlicky green beans and wilted arrugula/spinach/red onion salad as side dishes. Make the green beans by steaming fresh or frozen green beans. Chop up two garlic cloves and add to a skillet with a little olive oil. Saute the garlic and then toss in the beans and a can of sliced water chestnuts, drained. Mix the ingredients. Drizzle on bit more olive oil and squeeze on a little lemon juice.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Super Simple Crockpot Cereal

I've just discovered a great cookbook that would have made my life so easy if it had been available three years ago when I eliminated dairy and gluten from my diet. It's called Done with Dairy---Giving up Gluten: 14 Days to a Delicious and Healthy You by Meg Haworth. It's a wonderful starting place for individuals who need or want to change their eating because it has complete menus for two weeks of eating without dairy or gluten, as well as grocery lists and other tips. The author who has been eating without those ingredients for more than a decade shares her expertise and saves you going through the learning curve. The cookbook is not perfect by any means for individuals like me who have other foods they cannot eat but you learn to adapt the recipes. Also, there are some cheese substitute products mentioned that are difficult to find and may contain casein and soy. But by and large, the cookbook saves you a lot of time and guesswork. Check out the cookbook at

Do you like hot and hearty breakfasts that keep you going throughout the morning? Then the crockpot cereal from the cookbook is for you. Here's the recipe which I adapted by adding some additional protein and fiber.

Crockpot Cereal
1/3 cup each gluten-free steelcut oatmeal, whole amaranth grains, quinoa grains and buckwheat (kasha)
4 T. ground flax
4 T. vegan rice protein powder
1 T. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup apple juice concentrate
4 1/2 cups water or do half water and rice milk (or other alternative milk beverage)
Toppings of your choice: I like diced kiwis, blueberries, hemp milk, toasted pumpkin seeds and a teaspoon of pomegranite molasses

Put all the dry ingredients in a small crockpot right before bedtime. Add the liquids. Put on the lid and turn to low. Say goodnight and wake up to a delicious hot cereal. Put in a bowl and serve with your favorite toppings.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Veggie Patties with Honey Mustard Sauce

I just came back from a bike ride with a backpack filled with organic fresh asparagus and sugar snap peas from a local backroads, organic produce stand. I was tempted to eat the sugar snap
peas raw but I knew that could spell disaster for someone with IBS or other sensitive digestive system issues. I decided my system could tolerate the peas if I used them as an ingredient in one of my favorite recipes, Veggie Patties with Honey Mustard Sauce.

Put the following veggies in a food processor and grind to a uniform size:
1 carrot, peeled, or a small handful of baby carrots
1/2 red onion
2 celery ribs
1 cup sugar snap peas

Add and continue grinding:
1 cup cooked quinoa
2-3 garlic cloves
Optional: toasted sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds (1/4) and/or 1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Dump the mixture into a bowl or keep it in the food processor if you have a cavernous one.

Add to the mixture and blend in:
egg replacer for one egg
1 T. sesame oil
2 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. balsalmic vinegar
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. minced fresh or dried parsley
1 tsp. chicken or veggie broth
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste
1/2-1 cup brown rice flour

Shape the mixture into 6-8 patties and dredge with additional brown rice flour. It's best to chill the patties for several hours before cooking but if you're hungry like me after a bike ride, just pan fry for several minutes and eat and enjoy. Wrap the extras up and place in the freezer. Before freezing, separate each patty with a piece of wax paper so it will be easy to remove just one for cooking.

Top your patty with Honey Mustard Sauce:

Blend in a small bowl:
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I used Grapeseed Veganaise. Found it at the local co-op. It doesn't have any eggs and is absolutely convincing as a mayo replacement.)
2 T. agave nectar or more if you want it sweeter (You also may use honey.)
3 T. Dijon mustard (I look for one without eggs and gluten-free.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

My stomach is feeling awesome! It's been nearly a month now without an attack, and I even spent a week in Seattle during that time period. It's too soon to say exactly what is responsible for this improvement. Some possibilities are: adding a daily B-Complex vitamin along with a Vitamin D capsule, taking antibiotics for a possible bacterial infection, or lord, only knows. I also have been following an eating regimen, free of dairy, gluten, egg, corn and nuts, for a good six months. Could finally be paying off. Well, today I'm posting a dinner recipe free of all of those ingredients that everyone in my family loved, and none of them have any dietary restrictions but they still gobbled it up greedily.

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs with Potato Mashers (serves 4)

1 pound ground turkey breast
1 garlic clove finely minced
2 tsp. poultry grill seasoning
Salt and black pepper
15-ounce can of tomato sauce (all natural)
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup natural ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup all-fruit apricot preserves
1 tsp. dried thyme
Mashed red or Yukon gold potatoes
Roasted zucchini squash or steamed asparagus or broccoli

In a large bowl, combine turkey, garlic and grill/herb seasoning, 1/2 tsp. salt and black pepper. Mix well and shape about 16 meatballs. Place meatballs in the bottom of a slow cooker.

In a food processor, mix together tomato sauce, broth, ketchup, vinegar, apricot preserves and thyme. Pour mixture over meatballs.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Season, to taste, with additional salt and pepper. Serve over a heaping helping of mashed potatoes and side of veggies.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spanish cod on lettuce leaves

Fish is such a great food for someone with stomach issues because it's so easily digested. Of course, that's assuming it's not breaded and fried which will undo it's healthiness and digestibility. I probably eat fish three or four times a week so I'm always on the lookout for a new way to prepare it. On a recent trip to Seattle, I discovered a delicious way to prepare fish in a Cuban/Spanish fusion restaurant. Pescado de Tito was cod, seasoned with a blend of cinnamon, paprika, garlic, onions and white wine. The cod was wonderfully moist. The secret was placing the fish on banana leaves before grilling.
When I returned home, I tried my own version which also turned out quite moist even though I had to substitute lettuce leaves for the banana leaves. The recipe also gave me the opportunity to try out "true" cinnamon my daughter purchased for me from a spice shop in Seattle.
Spanish Cod on Lettuce Leaves

Ingredients for 2 servings:

2 cod fillets
spice blend of 2 tsp. each ground true cinnamon and paprika; 1 tsp. chili powder; plus 1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 medium onion chopped
2 large lettuce leaves (I used romaine lettuce.)

Prepare the spice blend by measuring ingredients into a jar with a lid. Shake to mix. Spray a grill pan or prepare your barbecue. Rinse the cod fillets and pat dry. Rub the cod fillets on both sides with cinnamon-paprika spice blend. Divide the onions and garlic evenly between the 2 lettuce leaves. Place the fish on top of the onion-garlic mixture on the lettuce leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and white wine. Grill the fish on their lettuce leaves (about 10 minutes). The fish is done when it flakes.

Serve the Spanish cod with steamed rice (white or brown) and roasted veggies such as zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli or asparagus. Consider a tossed baby green salad with hearts of palm drizzled with a light balsalmic dressing if your stomach can tolerate it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Grilled Salmon with Pomegranate Beet Sauce

Salmon is one of my favorite entrees because it's loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and easy-to-digest protein. If you avoid creamy-type sauces, salmon will always be a hit with your sensitive digestive system. It's even a safe choice when you eat out if you ask for it grilled plain with salt and pepper.

I'm always on the look-out for different ways to serve my favorite seafood. Recently, I found a recipe for salmon with sweet beet sauce in a Rachel Ray cookbook. The simple addition of pomegranate molasses to the sweet beet sauce recipe made it even more "yummalicious."

Grilled Salmon with Pomegranate Beet

2 roasted medium-sized beets, peeled and grated

2 T. olive oil

2 finely chopped garlic cloves

1 small red or yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 T. pomegranate molasses

Wash and scrub the beets. Wrap individually in aluminum foil and bake for about one hour at 350 degrees. Do this the day before or in the a.m. of the day you plan to make the recipe. I usually do a half-dozen beets at a time to make use of the hot oven and have extras for another recipe. They store well in the fridge. Allow the beets to cool before peeling and grating.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet, and add the garlic and onions. Cook for a few minutes until the garlic and onions are tender. Toss in the beets and stir and heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and white wine. Bring to a bubble. Then allow to simmer for several minutes. Finally, mix in the pomegranate molasses for some extra pizazz.

Serve the beet sauce on top of grilled salmon filets with roasted brussel sprouts and brown rice on the side.

Strawberry Hemp Milk Smoothie

Hemp milk caught my eye about a year ago when I was shopping at my local consumer co-op. My first thought was “Can this be legal?” I was tempted to buy it out of curiosity but the nutritional claims seemed too good to be true. It took me about a year for my curiosity to get the best of me and give it a try.

It was worth getting over my skepticism. Hemp milk is delicious alternative milk with a thick, creamy texture and slightly nutty taste. This non-dairy beverage may not be what most people picture pouring over their cereal or dipping their chocolate chip cookies into but it qualifies as a “super food” for someone like me who has allergy or intolerance to dairy and IBS/stomach issues. It scored well with both problems.

Each eight-ounce serving has about 130 calories that pack a powerhouse of nutrition with:
A perfect one-to-three ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
All 10 essential amino acids
4 grams of digestible protein
Essential Vitamins A, B12, D, E, Riboflavin and Folic Acid.
Essential minerals: magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, zinc.
46 percent of RDA of calciuim

Hemp milk is made from water and hemp seeds, which apparently are one of the plant kingdom’s most complete sources of protein, as well as an ample supply of omega 3 and 6, magnesium and antioxidants, like Vitamin E and chlorophyll. The milk is fortified to supply additional vitamins and minerals.

Hemp milk is available in plain, vanilla and chocolate, and offered by two companies, “Living Harvest Hempmilk” and “Hemp Bliss.” I tried out vanilla Living Harvest Hempmilk since that what was available at my co-op. One of my first concerns was “Would I be able to tolerate it?” I’ve tried other alternative dairy beverages (soy, nut, rice milks) and had “issues” with all except rice milk which has great taste but comes up short in the nutritional area.

Hemp milk can be tolerated by most individuals with food allergies because it’s free of all the top allergens: milk/dairy, wheat/gluten, soy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts. The vanilla hemp milk is vegan and contains brown rice syrup, rather than cane sugar. It is close to milk in taste and consistency, and can be poured over cereal, consumed straight from a glass or used to make a smoothie.

The downside is hemp milk doesn’t do well when heated and tends to separate. Supposedly you can use it in cooking as long it’s not heated above a certain temperature. I tried pouring it in my hot tea, and it separated. I plan to do more experimenting with cooking with hemp milk.

I did make and enjoy a “Strawberry Hemp Milk Smoothie.” I was impressed by how thick and creamy it was. Here’s the recipe:

Strawberry Hemp Milk Smoothie

1 cup chilled vanilla hemp milk
1 T. vegan rice protein powder
1 cup frozen strawberries
Blend on high in blender. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

My conclusion: I plan to purchase more hemp milk but at $3-$4 a quart I may have to restrain myself. Actually, compared to other alternative milks, it’s not all that spendy. My next indulgence will be trying the chocolate flavor.

Also, I found out if you have the time and proper equipment you can make hemp milk yourself. The pluses are you skip all the sweeteners and other add-ons, and it's definitely cheaper. You can buy a five pound bag of hemp seeds from Manitoba Harvest or Nutiva for about $60. You also need a good blender like a Vitamix or a K-Tec. This is my next investment and project.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Marinated asparagus relish for fish or poultry

Getting the right type of fats in the correct amounts can be tricky if you have IBS or other stomach issues. Too much fat can produce stomach/intestinal issues as I've learned the hard way. More than once I've been sick for days because I ate too many foods with fat in one day. For instance, amaranth whole grains sprinkled with 1 T. of pumpkin seeds for breakfast might be digested with no problems if I'm careful with my fat intake the rest of the day. But if I overindulge in lots of other fats the rest of the day I could be in trouble.

But that doesn't mean you should eliminate fat from your diet as your body needs healthy fats. Not all fats are created equally. Stick with monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and Omega-3 fatty acids. Olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil and sunflower oil are my MUFAs that I rely on. Some Omega-3's that work well are fish oil, flaxseed oil and sesame oil. I try to eat 1T. of healthy fat per meal, as well as with most snacks.

Watching my fat intake has become second nature as a defense mechanism againt getting an IBS-like attack. I have avoided marinated veggies because they usually are heavily marinated in oils. Imagine my surprise when I sampled some marinated asparagus at a local farmer's market that had no oils in the marinade. And it was delicious. I got the recipe and went home and tried it. I enjoyed eating the marinated asparagus as they were but you also can make an asparagus relish that goes great with fish or poultry. I used the relish with quinoa/turkey burgers. Yum!

Marinated Asparagus Relish

Ingredients for the Marinated Asparagus:

1 bunch asparagus (ends cut off and blanched)
4-5 cloves of garlic chopped
2 T. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1 cup white wine
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Mix the ingredients together and place in a covered container overnight.


1 cup finely chopped marinated asparagus
1 medium red bell pepper minced (optional), 1/4 cup minced red onion and 4-5 cloves garlic mashed. Saute all three.
1 T. chopped parsley
1 tsp. rosemary finely chopped
1 T. wholegrain mustard
1 T. honey, agave nectar or apple juice concentrate

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate overnight. Top fish or poultry with a generous helping of the relish. Serve some whole marinated asparagus on the side.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Olive salsa recipe

Spring has definitely sprung in my neck of the woods. And coincidentally, I feel like I've been sprung from months of unstoppable stomach problems. It's hard to believe but I've had less stomach problems since I took those antibiotics for a bacterial infection that may have been aggravating my symptoms. I'll take whatever I can get but in the back of my mind, I know that IBS-like symptoms can sometimes be cyclical, meaning they'll disappear for a awhile before making a reappearance.
I recently cooked up some lemon-thyme chicken with olive salsa and it was a hit with my family. Here's the recipe:
Olive salsa on lemon-thyme chicken
(serves 4)
Ingredients for the chicken:
2-3 chicken breasts, halved
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
Ingredients for the olive salsa:
1 cup pitted green olives, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic
1 T. capers, rinsed and drained
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 T. lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Combine the ingredients for the salsa in a food processor and pulse until medium/fine chopped. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and chill until serving time.
Season the chicken breasts with thyme, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Place the seasoned chicken breasts on the grill or in a well-oiled and heated grill pan and brown on both sides. Drizzle with lemon juice and finish cooking in a heated oven.
Serve a piece of grilled chicken with a generous helping of olive salsa, alongside a salad and grilled veggies. I guarantee you'll get rave reviews about the salsa.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spicy Asian Sesame/Tahini Soup and Bad Allergy Days

I should consider it a good sign that my allergies are bothering me more than my stomach. That means that the antibiotics I took for my stomach may have actually helped. With the trees blooming, my allergies are a different story. I've been spending a lot of time in the reclining mode, kind of like my cat, Oreo, pictured right. My nasal passages and sinuses are so inflamed I'm only hungry for hot, spicy soup. I can't taste much of anything which explains why this soup is extra spicy.

Spicy Asian Sesame/Tahini Soup

(makes 2 large servings)

This soup is delicious even when you can't hardly taste anything.


2-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced

Optional: 2 cloves garlic minced and 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

2 tsps. olive oil

2 cups chopped red cabbage

1 1/2 cups chopped kale

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2-3 tsp. red curry paste (I actually used 1 T. The amount used depends on the brand purchased. I had Kitchen 88 red curry paste, and it wasn't as hot as some I've used before. My advice: add a little and taste. Then add more if you want it spicier.)

1 T. tahini butter

1 tsp. sesame oil

salt and pepper

3 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup plain rice milk (Coconut milk can be used if your stomach can tolerate it.)

1 T. fish oil

1 tsp. agave nectar

1 T. lime juice

quinoa or rice noodles to make 2 servings

2 cups cooked, tail-on medium shrimp

2 T. each chopped fresh basil and cilantro


Prepare the noodles first, following package instructions. Reserve the noodles and get busy on the soup.Use a large pot. Saute minced ginger and garlic in 1-2 tsp. olive oil or other oil. Add chopped cabbage and kale and continue to stir fry until veggies become tender. Add a little chicken broth if needed. Slide veggies to side of pan and add red curry paste, tahini, sesame oil, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Mix and heat, then stir with veggies. Add remaining broth, fish oil, agave nectar, lime juice, water chestnuts and shrimp. Add more red curry paste at any time if the soup is too wimpy. Stir and heat the soup enough to warm the shrimp. To serve, put some noodles in a bowl, top with soup, and garnish with basil and cilantro.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sorghum waffle celebration

If you're a daffodil and tulip lover, you need to visit the Skagit Valley in Washington some April for the annual Tulip Festival. My husband and I combined a trip to visit my daughter in Seattle with a side trip to bike through the tulip and daffodil fields near Mount Vernon and LaConnor. There was a sea of yellow daffodils everywhere, while the tulips were just getting started.
During the trip, I finished up 10 days of antibiotics for a bacterial infection that may have been causing my increase in digestive issues. It's been four days since I completed the antibiotics and my improvement is still holding. And because this took place while I was on a trip makes it an even bigger success. After all, being away from home and eating with special dietary issues is a challenge in itself. I ate Tom Yum soup (hot and sour Thai soup) at a lot of Seattle Thai restaurants but most of the time I had access to a kitchen to cook in. The down side was everyone expected me to do the cooking because they were afraid of cooking something that's wasn't "safe."

Usually, when I go on a trip, my stomach is a disaster for at least a week after I return. But this time, it's completely different. I actually felt good enough to cook up some sorghum waffles. This was a first for me as I had never cooked any gluten-free waffles but they were delicious!
Sorghum Waffles with Strawberries
(Makes 3 big waffles)


1 cup sorghum flour (buckwheat flour can be substituted)
2 T. ground flax (or substitute 1 T. natural fiber supplement such as Acacia Tummy Fiber)
1 cup tapioca starch
4 T. arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T. organic brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
Optional: 2 scoops rice protein
1-1 1/2 cups rice milk
2-3 T. olive oil
3 T. applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla
Lots of strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Start heating your waffle maker. Spray with olive or canola oil. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine liquids in a separate bowl (start with 1 cup rice mik and add more if needed). Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix with a whisk. Add remaining milk as needed to obtain desired consistency. Follow your waffle maker instructions for making waffles. That means don't peak too soon. When waffles are ready, top with strawberries or other fruit.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Cranberry Salsa, Roasted Veggies and Lemon Spinach

I met a great doc today who seems to be able to bridge the gap between western medicine and natural medicine. She put me on antibiotics for my bacterial infection even though in western medicine the pathogen that I have would be considered to be normal. But she was willing to agree that it might be causing me a problem and was worth a shot to see what would happen with the antibiotics. I guess I'll know if there is any improvement in 10 days. But I feel better just knowing that I now have a doctor who will at least listen.

I cooked up a great healthy dinner tonight that was loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, just to make sure my body has the best chance possible to heal. The vegetables and fruit, high in fiber, should be tolerated because they are cooked or roasted. If you are concerned about the crystallized ginger, leave it out of the salsa. You could substitute salmon for the chicken in this meal and make it even healthier. Also, consider serving it with brown rice, instead of roasted potatoes.

Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Cranberry Salsa (serves 2)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen bing cherries, pits removed
2 T. apple juice concentrate
2 T. minced crystallized ginger
1 chicken breast, halved
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 T. lemon juice
2-4 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
cauliflower, broccoli, red or purple potatoes, red onion (enough for 2 people)
1 10-ounce bag of spinach


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and chop veggies, potatoes for roasting in oven. Toss with 2-3 T. olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a sprayed roasting pan and slide in the oven for approximately 30 minutes.

Prepare chicken for grilling in the oven. Place 1 T. lemon juice, salt, pepper, thyme and smidge of olive oil in a bowl. Coat the chicken with the mixture. Place the chicken pieces in a grill pan with a bit more olive oil. Brown for a few minutes and then slide in the oven to finish cooking.

Prepare the cranberry/cherry salsa. Simmer cranberries, cherries, apple juice concentrate, ginger in a saucepan over medium heat until the cranberries and cherries are soft. Remove from heat. Saute the spinach in a large, heavy pan or skillet with 1 T. olive oil. Cook over medium high heat until the spinach is wilted. Add salt, pepper and 1 T. lemon juice. Toss to coat.

Serve chicken on a bed of lemon spinach with a dab of cranberry salsa on top and a serving of roasted veggies and potatoes on the side. And thank yourself for cooking something that's this healthy and delicious.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lemony asparagus noodles with roasted veggies

I just received the results of a comprehensive parasitology test that I had and found out I have a bacterial infection. It could be a major player in many of the digestive problems I've had. I'm not sure if I should be happy or not that I have citrobacter braakii. But if it means getting rid of it will improve the quality of my life, I guess I'm happy. I have to reserve a bit of skepticism because I have been down this path many times where something seems to be the remedy for my problems. I'll post updates on my progress after I start my antibiotics.

In the meantime, I'm thinking it's time to make something with some of that great fresh asparagus that available this time of year. I just had a flashback remembering when my kids and I used to hunt along the ditch banks and country roads near our home for wild asparagus. It was incredible while it lasted. These days, most of it is gone because of housing developments and road improvements. I'll always cherish the memory of the three of us swinging out bags of asparagus as we headed to the kitchen to trim and wash it for dinner.

Lemony Asparagus Noodles with Roasted Veggies and Lemon-Pepper Chicken or Fish

Ingredients for 4 servings:

1 pound fresh, trimmed asparagus

1/2 large caulifower, trimmed and cut into pieces

1 large broccoli head, trimmed and cut into pieces

lemon juice

4 T. olive oil

Salt and Pepper

1/4 cup sorghum flour or other gluten-free flour such as brown rice or amaranth

1 pkg. quinoa pasta noodles

Optional: fresh basil or mint

Optional: rice or soy parmessan cheese


Wash and trim all veggies. Cut cauliflower and broccoli into small pieces. Cut off tips of asparagus leaving with 4-5 inches of stem. Cut rest of stems into one-inch pieces. Place cauliflower, broccoli and long asparagus tips into large bowl. Toss with 2 T. of olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour out onto a shallow roasting pan or baking sheet, sprayed with pan spray. Set the oven on 400 degrees and roast the veggies until tender (about 30 minutes but keep an eye on them).

Boil chopped asparagus stems in a medium pot of boiling water with salt. Cook for about 9 minutes or until tender. Save the asparagus water and transfer asparagus stem pieces to a food processor. Puree the asparagus stems with lemon juice, 2 T. olive oil , 3/4 cup asparagus cooking water, and salt and pepper to taste, until smooth. Remove to a pan to keep warm on the stove.

Try adding some fresh herbs, such as basil or mint, to the asparagus sauce.

Cook the pasta according to directions. Cook the lemon-pepper chicken or fish filets. I used sole filets and chicken to please the variety of preferences in my household. Season the meat with salt and pepper and roll in seasoned flour in a pie plate. Brown both sides of the meat in an oven-safe skillet with a little olive oil. Leave the meat in the pan and place in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, place some noodles on plates, top with some roasted veggies, then some sauce and garnish with additional veggies. Sprinkle on the optional soy parmessan cheese. Place a piece of lemon-pepper fish or chicken on each plate. Enjoy this delicious taste of spring.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Asian turkey meatballs with soba noodles

I just came back from a chilly bike ride. The first day of April has arrived and you'd never know it by the temperatures in southern Idaho. We're at least 10 degrees below normal. Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you have stomach issues, like IBS. Admittedly, sometimes when you don't feel well, it can be difficult to do. I find that it takes my mind away from my chronic issues and most of the time, makes me feel better. Exercise doesn't cure everything but it definitely helps.

A bowl of soba (buckwheat) noodles with spicy veggies and Asian meatballs sounds like just the ticket for a cold spring day. Here's the recipe:

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Soba Noodles
(serves 3-4)

For the Meatballs
4 green onions, chopped
One-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T. low-sodium, wheat-free soy sauce
2-4 tablespoons fresh finely chopped mint or cilantro
1 T. lime juice
1 pound lean ground turkey

For the Soba Noodles and Veggies
8 ounces buckwheat soba noodles (make sure you get the ones that are 100 percent buckwheat)
1/3 cup low-sodium, wheat-free soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
one-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. lime juice
1 T. agave nectar
1/2 cup or more chicken broth
2-4 T. minced fresh mint or cilantro or both
2 medium yellow squash, peeled, halved and cut into moons
2 medium zucchini, peeled, halved and cut into moons
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
6-8 mushrooms, sliced
6 cups bok choy, sliced (Try baby bok choy if you can find it.)
1 T. vegetable oil
Note: If you want more veggies, go ahead. They're good for you. Try some broccoli, kale or Chinese cabbage.


For the meatballs
Place in the food processor: green onions, ginger, garlic and 3 T. of soy sauce, cilantro/mint and lime juice. Pulse until finely ground. Add the meat and continue to process to combine. Roll the meat into meatballs. Brown the meatballs in a skillet with some oil. Place the meatballs in the oven on low to keep them warm while preparing the other ingredients.

For the noodles and veggies
Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Prepare the vegetables. Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic, and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Then add the squash and onions, and stir fry until the vegetables are just beginning to get tender. Add the bok choy and mushrooms, and 2-4 T. of water or chicken broth, cover with a lid. Cook until the bok choy and mushrooms are tender.

To a measuring cup, add chicken broth, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, mint/cilantro and agave nectar. If you want your soba noodles more soup-like, add more chicken broth. Add to the vegetables and stir well. Cook until heated through.

To serve, place some soba noodles in a bowl, top with a generous helping of veggies in sauce, and a 3-4 meatballs. Enjoy your delicious meal!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quinoa Pizza with Roasted Veggies

My stomach has been going back and forth between feeling semi-tolerable to being intolerable. It sounds like I'm whining which I don't like to do but I thought it would help if others knew they are not alone in what they are experiencing. It's been three days sort of okay, three days bad. Actually, it's not always three days good. Sometimes it's less good and more bad.

Sound familiar? I guess it's pretty common among people with IBS and other stomach disorders. In some individuals, their symptoms may disappear for months. Often, the individuals can't identify anything they've done differently. There are, in some cases, explanations, such as unidentified food allergies, a stressful situation or poor eating habits.

I have dealt with all of those issues and still have the on-going problem. But I keep searching for answers. Along the way I have discovered some great foods to replace ones I am no longer eating. Quinoa is one of those foods. It's another great grain for individuals with stomach issues, like IBS, because it's so digestible but yet high in fiber and protein. It has more protein than any other grain (16.2 percent) which means it rivals the protein content of meat.

I decided to use quinoa to whip up a roasted veggie pizza with an herbed quinoa crust. I didn't use any cheese, although you could use soy cheese, but it was still delicious.

Quinoa Pizza with Roasted Veggies Recipe
(Makes two servings)
Ingredients for the Crust:

1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 tsp. gluten/free baking powder
2 T. olive oil
1/2 zucchini, peeled and grated (It's important to remove the skin if you have IBS.)
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 tsp. each dried rosemary and thyme (Other fresh or dried herbs may be used.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Approximately 1/4 cup water

Ingredients for the Toppings:

2 zucchinis, peeled and cut into half-moons
1 yellow squash, peeled and cut into half moons
10 grape tomatoes, halved
10 mushrooms, sliced
Fresh spinach
2 T. olive oil
1-2 T. tomato sauce
Additional herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil (Fresh would be best but I only had dried on hand.)
Salt and pepper
Optional: Shelton's Italian Turkey Sausage (I used three links and picked this brand because it's gluten-free)


Prepare the topping veggies for roasting in the oven. Wash all the veggies. Then, peel and slice the zucchini and yellow squash into half moons. Halve the grape tomatoes. Slice the mushrooms. Reserve the grape tomatoes. Put all the other veggies in a bowl and toss with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Place the veggies on a baking sheet. sprayed with pan spray. Roast the veggies in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. You want the veggies to be somewhat soft but not mushy so watch them carefully. During the last 8-10 minutes, add the grape tomatoes to the mix. Remove from the veggies from the oven to cool slightly.

If you are using the sausage, prepare it according to package instructions. Cut the sausages into bite-size pieces.

In the meantime, prepare the crust. Put the quinoa flour, baking powder, herbs and salt in a medium bowl. Add the olive oil and mix. Prepare the veggies. Fine chop the zucchini in a food processor or with a hand grater. Chop the spinach up with a knife and then put it in a microwave-safe bowl. Steam the spinach with a little water in the microwave until slightly wilted. Drain the spinach. Add the veggies to the dry ingredients and mix. Then begin adding water to make a soft dough. If the dough gets too wet, add more flour. Wet your hands with cold water and shape the dough into two balls to make two crusts. I reserved half the dough for another meal. It freezes well.

Spray a baking sheet with pan spray. Shape the dough into a pizza crust right on the baking sheet. Keep your hands moistened with cold water to make the dough easy to handle. Bake the crust for 5-8 minutes before adding the toppings. Remove the crust from the oven when it starts to crisp up.

To finish the pizza, first spread some tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the tomato sauce with herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Add a layer of fresh spinach leaves and herbs if you have them. Follow with some of the roasted veggies and sausage. Place the pizza back in the oven for approximately 5 minutes to heat through. Remove from the oven and enjoy with some additional roasted veggies on the side. I promise you won't even miss the cheese but if you must have cheese, use soy cheese.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Quick Amaranth Flatbread Recipe

One of the things I miss most about having stomach issues and gluten sensitivity is not being able to eat rustic breads with whole grains and fiber. Whole wheat can cause digestive problems for individuals with IBS or similar stomach problems.

I think I have solved the problem at least for my taste with several quick flatbread recipes I came up with. Both of the flatbreads pictured here are made with amaranth flour, an excellent source of fiber and protein.

I save time making these flatbreads by simply pressing the dough out onto a greased baking sheet with my hands into one large flatbread. After the bread is baked, I can cut the bread into large or small pieces depending on my intended use. For snacks, I cut the bread into small triangles or squares. I can cut larger squares if I want an open-face flatbread sandwich or salad.

The flatbread works well with an allergy rotation diet too. You can use the same recipe I'm providing below and substitute other whole grain flours, such as buckwheat for one day, quinoa for another, and sorghum or brown rice flour for the last day. It all works for me because it's easy and the result is delicious.

Amaranth Spinach Flatbread Recipe

I modified an Indian parathas recipe for this bread.

2 cups finely chopped spinach
2 cups amaranth flour
1-1 1/2 tsps. salt
1- 1 1/2 tsp. each dried dill and basil
1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
2-3 T. olive oil
Water, as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with pan spray or line with parchment paper.

Put the chopped spinach with water to cover in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke until the spinach is wilted. Drain off the water. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, flour, salt, herbs, olive oil and baking powder. Slowly add small amounts of water (about 1/2 cup) as needed to get the dough to stick together. Shape the dough into a ball. Moisten your hands frequently with cold water to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. Grab the dough in your hands and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Keep your hands moistened and press the dough out into a large flatbread about 1/8-inch thick. Spray the top lightly with olive oil and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and then cut into large or small pieces. But if you can't wait, grab off a piece, spread with safe margarine and enjoy!

Pumpkin Amaranth Flatbread Recipe
This flatbread is sweet and almost like a cookie.

Follow the same basic recipe as used for the Amaranth Spinach Flatbread but omit the spinach and herbs. Instead, add in 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1-1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 2-4 T. of maple syrup, agave nectar or brown sugar. You might want to experiment with sweetness. I used just 2 T. of agave nectar and it was sweet enough for my taste. Follow all the other directions. I like cutting this bread into small pieces and spreading it with apple butter or sunbutter. Yum! It's also great plain.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Easter gluten-free blueberry-raspberry streusel bars

You don't have give up high-quality grains with fiber and protein just because you have stomach issues like IBS. For a number of years, I was afraid to try anything except rice because I feared what higher fiber would do to my system. Then I discovered Quinoa (pronounced Keen wa). This ancient grain is one of the best grains for someone with stomach issues like IBS because it's easily digestible and gluten-free but yet high in protein and soluble fiber.

I decided to incorporate quinoa into an Easter dessert which also has antioxidant-rich blueberries and raspberries. The bars are made with quinoa flakes but you also can use gluten-free rolled oats. I've never been able to tolerate oats that are added to a recipe raw but I can handle quinoa. The gluten-free blueberry-raspberry streusel bars were so delicious that they even got rave reviews from my gluten-eating, non-stomach issue family and friends.

Easter Gluten-free Blueberry-Raspberry Streusel Bars
(Makes 2 dozen bars)
Adapted from a recipe used by the Cooqi, a bakery in St. Paul, Minn.

Gluten-free flour mix: 2 cups rice flour, 1 cup tapioca starch, 1 1/2 tsp. xanthum gum

For the bars:

1 2/3 cup quinoa flakes (or 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats and 2/3 cup quinoa flakes)

1 - 1 1/4 cups organic sugar, divided (I'd like to try these next time with brown rice syrup or agave nectar. I would use less than the sugar.)

3/4 tsp. cinnamon, divided

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup olive oil or safflower oil (or butter if you can handle dairy)

2 T. tapioca starch

3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen blueberries, defrosted)

1 1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen, defrosted)

1 T. orange juice concentrate

1-2 tsp. orange zest

Pan spray

egg replacer for 1 egg or 1 organic egg


Preheat over to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with pan spray. In a medium bowl, combine 1 2/3 cups gluten-free flour mix, quinoa flakes (or quinoa/oats mixture), 3/4-1 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and salt.

Mix the vegetable oil into the mixture using a pastry blender or spoon. Divide the mixture in half. Reserve half and evenly press other half into the bottom of your prepared baking pan. Bake 13-15 minutes, until mixture has solidified but not started to turn brown. Remove from the oven to cool.

In a heavy pan, combine 1/4 cup sugar, tapioca starch and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Add the berries, orange juice and zest. Gently stir to coat berries with other ingredients. Cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until blueberries are soft and raspberries become saucelike.

Remove from the heat and pour over baked crust. Add egg replacer to remaining unbaked crumb mixture, mix until well blended and dough holds together.

Pick up the dough in your hands and crumble it all over the top of the fruit in the pan. Spead the streusel topping around evening with your hands or a fork.

Return pan to oven and bake 30-40 minutes, until fruit appears bubbly and streusel topping is slightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Place the pan in the refrigerator to continue the cooling process. The bars can be a bit crumbly so, if possible, allow the pan of streusel bars to stay in the refrigerator overnight before cutting.

Make the bars a real treat by serving on a plate with vanilla Rice Dream frozen dessert, topped with a spoon of raspberries and a smidge of Wax Orchards raspberry syrup, fruit-juice sweetened.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Chocolate/Raspberry Rice Cereal

Many people with stomach issues/IBS have their symptoms come and go, sometimes disappearing for months at a time. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. I have nicknamed myself "the stomach" because that part of me influences almost everything in my daily life. I am one of those people who changes in lifestyle, eating, lowering of stress, etc. has made some, but not significant, impact on improving their condition. Where do I go from here? Well, I don't give up. Without hope, I am sunk for sure. This condition can be depressing enough as it is. (Sometimes I feel as disheartened as my friend Kona, above, appears while getting a bath.) But my belief is there has to be something that's screwing with me that no one has discovered yet.

Recently, I read about a British medical study where they took a group of 120 individuals who had been suffering with IBS for years, in some cases decades. Everything these individuals had done to improve their situation had done little. These individuals were tested for intestinal parasites and yeast, something else as well, but I don't remember. Most of these individuals had traveled or lived in other countries but a few had not. All of their tests came back positive for one or more of the three. When these conditions were addressed, their symptoms were reduced markedly.

After reading about the study, I decided to have the test done. I lived overseas and worked around livestock for quite awhile so it was a possibility. Also, my doctor had mentioned it a few months earlier, but wanted me to try other things first. Well, I am waiting for the results. Hopefully, I will be on to something that will improve my condition. In the meantime, I am enjoying my favorite breakfast for when I'm feeling a little down. You guessed it. It has chocolate in it.

Chocolate/Raspberry Rice Cereal

This cereal is so simple to prepare. It tastes like a dessert for breakfast but yet no sugar is added.

Ingredients for one serving:
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Rice Hot Cereal
1 cup water
1-2 T. good quality baking and drinking cocoa (I use Droste Holland Cocoa)
1 T. vanilla rice protein powder
1 T. ground flax seed
1/3 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Put all ingredients, except raspberries, in a saucepan. Cover with a lid and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 7-8 minutes. Scoop cereal into a bowl and top with raspberries. Enjoy!