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!