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.