Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homemade sunbutter and pumpkin butter saves bucks

Homemade sunbutter

Homemade pumpkin butter
Monday will be the day I get the results of my food sensitivity testing. I'm looking forward to uncovering something that has gone undetected in numerous elimination diets where you stop eating certain foods for a month or more, and then retest for reactions by gradually adding them back in.

They did the food sensitivity test on me rather than the allergic resonse test. I have never had an allergic response to any foods but instead have food intolerances which are far more difficult to figure out because sometimes responses don't occur for three days. It seems weird to hope something shows up but yet it might shed light on why I get certain symptoms, like upset stomach and chronic muscle pain caused by trigger points.

I'm hoping that the test doesn't show I have a problem with sunflower or pumpkin seeds because they are two of my very favorite foods. I have winced at the price but have purchased sunbutter and pumpkin butter for years. $6-8 for sunbutter and $10-12 for pumpkin butter recently inspired me to try making my own and see how much I could save.

I purchased raw sunflower seeds for $1.70 a pound in bulk and figured I would need 2 1/2 cups to make a pound of sunbutter. That equates to $4.25 for seeds compared to $6.99 for sunbutter which I paid at my most recent purchase. I calculate a savings of about $2.70.

Pumpkin seeds are a little more pricey, $3+. I haven't done the cost analysis on making my own pumpkin butter yet but I'll figure that out next time I purchase pumpkin seeds.

To make sunflower or pumpkin butter:
  1. Begin by toasting one or two cups of seeds either in a skillet or baking sheet in low heat oven. I set the oven for 325 degrees and keep a close eye on the seeds.
  2. Note #1: don't skip the toasting step. This is key to getting the seeds to turn into a creamy butter.
  3. Note #2: The toastier the seeds the more intense the flavor.
  4. Cool the seeds slightly.
  5. Pour into your food processor and begin grinding. Gradually add in 2 or more tablespoons of grapeseed or other oil, and continue processing until you have a smooth paste.
  6. Add a few drops of liquid stevia if desired.
That's all it takes to make some delicious sunbutter or pumpkin butter. It does take some time but if you eat a lot of the stuff it can save you some money.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Breakfast quinoa

Breakfast quinoa with fruit and seeds
I'm on a mission to break out of my breakfast rut. It's been protein smoothies for months and months and months until I can't stand it anymore. Things are definitely looking up with breakfast quinoa with fruit and seeds as well as breakfast sweet potato with pomegranate and seeds(

I love it when things are easy like both of these recipes. For the quinoa, I cook up one cup of quinoa the night before while I'm preparing dinner. I prepare the fruit topping and toasted seeds in advance too. I know this is beginning to sound complicated but the prep work saves you time in the morning when you don't have time. You also have enough for three or more breakfasts.

In the morning, I spoon about one-third cup into a bowl, pour on some hemp milk and pop the quinoa into the microwave for about 90 seconds. Top your quinoa with a little fruit and toasted seeds and you're ready to eat.

Here are the directions for making all the ingredients and assembling them into your breakfast quinoa.

Breafast Quinoa with Fruit Compote and Seeds

  1. 1 cup quinoa
  2. 1/2 cup each raw pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  3. 1 package frozen or fresh cranberres and  1 cup frozen blueberries
  4. unsweetened hemp milk
  5. liquid, alcohol-free stevia
  1. For the toasted seeds: Spread pumpkin and sunflower seeds on a baking sheet, sprayed with pan spray. Coat the seeds lightly with pan spray as well. Toast the seeds in a preheated oven set to 325 degrees for about 10 minutes. Check often and stir the seeds to prevent burning. Remove from seeds from the oven, allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  2. For the fruit compote: Pour one package of frozen or fresh cranberries in a heavy saucepan and add 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium heat until the cranberries pop and continue cooking for several more minutes. Remove the cranberries from the heat and mix in one cup frozen blueberries. Sweeten with liquid stevia to taste. Store the compote in the fridge.
  3. For the quinoa: Put one cup quinoa in a saucepan with two cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Store the quinoa in the fridge.
  4. For the breakfast quinoa: Heat up some quinoa mixed with hemp milk in the microwave for about 90 seconds. Top with some fruit compote and seeds and dig in.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

ACD-diet breakfast: pomegranate sweet potato

Kona takes over the bed

Breakfast sweet potato
Kona, my golden retriever, has the right idea. She loves to sleep in but she does it her way. Her morning starts by getting up whenever I do as early or late as that might be. After gobbling up her doggie chow, she heads back to bed as pictured above.

Actually, that's not her bed of choice. She prefers to sleep by the fireplace on her doggie bed. I snapped the picture above when she jumped up on one of our beds to escape the evil vacuum cleaner. She's proof that it's not just cats that are afraid of vacuum cleaners.

While Kona snoozes, I get busy pondering what to serve myself for breakfast. Lately, sweet potatoes have been a bit of a favorite. For a long time, I avoided sweet potatoes because I feared that would bring back my candida. Now, a year into my ACD diet, I no longer fear them as long as I don't eat a whole sweet potato at one time. I usually eat a large one over three breakfasts.

Sweet potatoes with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds is one of my favorite recipes for breakfast.

  1. One medium or large sweet potato
  2. 1-2 T. hemp milk, unsweetened
  3. 1 T. toasted pumpkin seeds
  4. 1-2 T. pomegranate seeds
  5. Sea salt
  1. Bake sweet potato (I do mine in the microwave because it's faster, about 6-8 minutes, as opposed to 40 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. Prick the sweet potato with a fork prior to baking.)
  2. Let cool slightly.
  3. Slice the top of the potato and use a fork to mash the insides a bit.
  4. Drizzle on the hemp milk and mix in.
  5. Sprinkle on the seeds and season with salt if desired.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rutabaga-salmon scramble

Rutabaga-salmon scramble
Inspirations for good things to eat, like this rutabaga-salmon scramble, come from all sorts of experiences, cravings and sometimes unexpected places.  I was watching a show on PBS that features well-known breakfast spots in cities around the U.S. I don't know what compelled me to watch because I knew breakfast eateries would have all the things I cannot eat like pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, ham, etc. Maybe I just wanted to torture myself.

A potato-salmon-spinach scramble at one of the featured restaurants caught my attention. With the exception of the potatoes, it looked pretty ACD-friendly. A simple switcheroo of ingredients and I could have myself a dish that could be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Now I'm glad I watched that show because Rutabaga-Salmon Scramble made a great dinner last night. Here's the recipe.

Ingredients for 1 serving:
1 salmon filet precooked and cut into pieces
1 rutabaga., peeled, sliced and boiled until tender but still firm
1/4 onion sliced
2-3 large handfuls of fresh spinach
sprig of parsley for garnish
salt and pepper
2 tsp. canola or olive oil

  1. Saute onions in oil in large, heavy skillet.
  2. Add rutabagas and cook until browned.
  3. Add salmon pieces and continue cooking until hot.
  4. Toss in spinach and continue cooking until wilted.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve on a plate and garnish with parsley.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Swiss chard rollups

Swiss chard rollups

I hate going to the doctor. I think it's because I have had so many wrong diagnoses. I start dreading the appointment days ahead. If I could, I would call and reschedule or cancel the appointment.

Sometimes, I've actually done that but not yesterday. They drew lots of blood for testing. I think they sucked me dry because I turned white as a sheet and felt like I was sick the rest of the day.

One of the tests was for food intolerances. I've done elimination diets numerous times to test for food intolerances but never had a blood test. I need to find out if there is something I am eating that is contributing to my chronic muscle pain.

We also discussed the role of environmental mold sensitivity in chronic health problems. I have been extremely sensitive to mold for years and then of course, there's the whole candida problem. I will  post more on the environmental molds later.

In the meantime as I wait for my results, I cannot eat the Swiss Chard Rollups pictured in this post unless I modify my own recipe. I made it right before I eliminated nightshade veggies (tomatoes, peppers). But maybe you can enjoy it. I know I did.

Swiss Chard Rollups

  1. 4 medium Swiss chard leaves
  2. 1/2 cup Silken tofu
  3. 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  4. 1/4 cup diced zucchini
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 3/4 cup homemade or safe marinara sauce
  7. 1/2 baked spaghetti squash
  1. Cook the Swiss chard leaves in boiling salted water for one minutes or until wilted.
  2. Remove the stem at the bottom of each leaf.
  3. Mix together 2 T. marinara, silken tofu, red bell pepper, zucchini, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Divide tofu/veggies mixture among the Swiss Chard leaves. Roll each one, tucking in the sides so the filling won't seep out.
  5. Place stuffed leaves in a small baking dish and top with the remaining marinara sauce.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  7. Scoop out the meat of spaghetti squash.
  8. Serve the rollups over the spaghetti squash.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beet chips

Don't let the appearance of these beet chips fool you. They look a little dark but they are so-so delicious.
I haven't eaten beets in a long time because of their carb count. But I have to get some carbs now that I'm following the caveman diet where grains are not allowed (kind of like the ACD diet). And beets in moderation are even allowed on the ACD diet. Just remember the word "moderation" with these chips.

Beet Chips (makes 4 servings)

  1. 2 medium beets
  2. 1-2 tsp. olive oil
  3. sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel beets and slice thinly with a mandoline slicer. Note: The beets have to be thin to get crisp. My mandoline slicer blade was a bit dull and my slices were a little too thick which may account for why they got dark before they got done.
  3. In a bowl, toss the beets with olive oil
  4. Spray a large baking sheet with pan spray.
  5. Spread the beet slices out on the sheet in a single layer.
  6. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Bake until the edges of the beets begin to dry out. This takes a long time especially if the beets aren't thin enough. Plan on 30 minutes for super thin slices and 40-50 minutes for thicker slices.
  8. Check the beets often and remove individual chips as they get done.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and crisp.
  10. Don't eat them all at one time!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Caveman diet and poached salmon

Poached salmon
Two weeks ago I scratched nightshade veggies off my eating list in hopes of reducing a chronic pain issue I have. I almost felt like I was going through withdrawal when I stopped eating my favorite red bell peppers, jalapenos and spices made from peppers (paprika, cayenne, chili powder). I also realized just how much of this stuff I consumed each day.

Here's my logic for cutting out nightshade veggies:
  • Tomatoes, peppers and goji berries are touted for their health benefits. But these nutrition-packed foods have a dark side for those who experience intolerance or allergic reaction. Plants from the nightshade family may cause, or contribute, to arthritic symptoms.

  • Nightshade plants produce drug-like chemicals, called alkaloids. These alkaloids - nicotine, atropine, capsaicin, solanine, and tomatine - build up in the body’s tissues and may produce pain and inflammation in the joints and muscles. Nightshades were originally used as ornamental plants because of their toxic nature.

  • One 20-year study, of 1,400 volunteers, found nightshade to be a causative factor in arthritis in sensitive people. In another study, 72.7 percent of the 763 participants reported a marked lessening of arthritis symptoms when they strictly eliminated nightshade foods and/or tobacco.

  • The best way to diagnose intolerance is to follow a “no nightshades” diet for at least one month. That means you avoid eating all nightshade vegetables and spices. You also abstain from tobacco use as well.

    Here's a list of nightshade veggies:
  • Nightshades are plants from the Solanaceae family, including tobacco, potatoes, eggplant, hot and sweet peppers, tomatillos and gooseberries.  Spices and condiments made from nightshades include cayenne, chili powder, curry, paprika, ketchup and Tabasco. All nightshade foods contain nicotine in some form.

I've seen some lessening of pain, along with getting physical therapy. But that's not the end of the story for me. There are more foods that can be contributing to my pain. I'm not sure which ones but I definitely suspect chocolate.

The easiest way for me to find out is to get a blood test for food sensitivities which I probably will. That will take awhile so in the meantime, I have opted to follow the Caveman Diet which is kind of like the strict anti-candida diet. You basically eat unprocessed fish and turkey (no chicken), veggies and fruit, and seeds/nuts.
Find about more info at

I've always loved salmon but now I'm looking for more salmon recipes. Please share if you have some.
Here's my current favorite.

Poached Salmon
  1. 16 ounces wild salmon
  2. 2 cups chicken broth (I fudged on this one and bought Imagine free-range, organic chicken broth but I noticed it contains "natural flavor" which potentially could include paprika or other nightshade spice. I need to make up some of my own veggie broth because chicken is supposed to be avoided. )
  3. 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
  4. 1 bay leaf
  5. 4 scallions
  1. Heat a skillet with 2 tsp. olive oil. Add salmon filets, broth, bay leaf, peppercorns.
  2. Cook in liquid until just about done, about 6 minutes. Add scallions and cook another minute or so.
  3. Serve with other veggies or on a plate of greens.
Note: Keep me in mind if you have some "clean" recipes for salmon. I'm going to need some variety.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Skinny cocoa

Pumpkin's pose of tranquility

Sometimes, don't you just feel like finding a sunny spot and taking a little catnap? I think Pumpkin, my buddy, has it down pat. I think he looks so adorable in his pose of tranquility.

I've been having a little trouble keeping him from incessantly asking for food. I guess he's suffering from winter boredom. He's a house cat but I don't want him to get tubby. Every day, I measure out his food allotment and that's all he gets no matter how cute he acts or how much he begs.

Unfortunately, we humans don't have someone to restrict us when the winter munchies strike. I admit lately I've been doing my own share of winter overgrazing. But I have a solution in the form of a low-glycemic cocoa drink.
Ingredients for skinny cocoa

My skinny cocoa is simple to make but extremely satisfying. It's low-glycemic because it's made with unsweetened chocolate-flavored Almond Breeze, water, tea and no-alcohol stevia. It's kind of a chocolate tea latte. I find it keeps me away from dreaming of other chocolate confections.

The drink probably has at most a whopping 45 calories if you use a whole cup of Almond Breeze. Feel free to substitute some other alternative dairy beverage, chocolate flavored.

Here's how I make it:
  1. Fill a heavy mug with half water and half Almond Breeze.
  2. Heat in the microwave to a boil, about 3- 3 1/2 minutes.
  3. Remove from the microwave and drop in one tea bag. My two favorite flavors are pictured above. For mint cocoa, I add peppermint tea. For vanilla cocoa, I use the Sleepytime Vanilla.
  4. Add liquid stevia to sweeten and get ready to sip a delicious cocoa drink that won't spike your sugar levels.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Carob sunbutter cups

Carob sunbutter cups
I'm still on my kicks to make treats. I haven't made my all-time favorite for a really long time because I didn't realize unsweetened carob chips were available. I found some that are even dairy free at These are so good you really don't even need much stevia because the carob and sunbutter are naturally sweet. And they are ACD friendly!

Sunbutter/Carob Cups


1 bag vegan unsweetened carob chips

1/4 cup unsweetened sunbutter (sunflower butter)

Liquid or powdered stevia to taste (use the non-alcohol added variety)

1 mini-muffin pan

Melt carob chips in microwave. Add stevia and stir to blend. Spoon 1 tsp. or so into each section of the mini-muffin pan. Top with 1 tsp. sunbutter. You can top with additional melted carob chips if desired. Refrigerate until set. Makes 12 cups.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Coconut butter revisited

Homemade coconut/cacao butter
I am on a kick to come up with a healthy treat that's ACD friendly. Coconut has long been off my list because of the saturated fat that tends to upset my digestive tract. I have no gallbladder which means saturated fats don't go down well. And I have no self control. It's better if it's not in the house.

 For some reason, I decided to give coconut another try. I even had a bag of organic coconut tucked away in the freezer from my last coconut indulgence. I saw a video on the internet that showed how to make your own coconut butter out of coconut flakes. Premade coconut butter such as Artisana is expensive. It looked like a challenge to see if I could make my own.

All you do is pour some unsweetened coconut flakes in your food processor and start processing. I didn't want to make a ton so I just put in one cup of flakes. It takes about 20 minutes with some scraping of the sides to keep the mixture blending. Voila! It worked.

From scratch coconut butter
Things started getting dangerous once I had the coconut butter made. I decided to add cacao bits to make my version of Artisana's coconut-cacao bliss. I added 2 T. cacao bits and some stevia. Add more if you want more chocolate flavor.

Now, my problem is limiting myself. I eagerly gobbled up a couple of bites and stored the rest in the fridge.
I've been restricting myself to a bit sprinkled on top of berries as a dessert. By eating it sparingly, I have been able to avoid the dreaded stomach issues. I'm still mulling over other ways to use it. Please share your ideas.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Pimped up sunbutter

Pimped-up sunbutter with flax, cinnamon and hemp seeds

I had to eat something extra special to celebrate New Year's Day. My first thought was something with sunbutter which I absolutely love. But then, I thought why not try making a pimped-up sunbutter.

 Recently, when browsing the internet, I had come across a pre-made sunbutter with some yummy add-ins (vanilla, cinnamon, flax and hemp seed). It looked incredibly delicious. I almost ordered it until I realized it contained evaporated cane juice, just another name for sugar which is a no-no for candida sufferers.

That cinnamon/vanilla sunbutter was the inspiration for my pimped-up sunbutter but I made mine free of sugar. It was super simple to make and oh, so delicious. I spooned some on my hot quinoa for breakfast but it kind of got lost in the almond milk. The next time I'll try putting it on less milky quinoa.

Hot quinoa with designer sunbutter added.
  Pimped-up Sunbutter

  1. 1/4 cup unsweetened sunbutter
  2. 2 T. ground flax seed
  3. Few drop on alcohol-free stevia
  4. 1 tsp. cinnamon
  5. 2 T. hemp seed
  6. Optional: alcohol-free vanilla or vanilla bean which I didn't have. I'll try that next time and trust me there will be lots of next times.
  7. Note: If you want more,  just double or triple the ingredients.
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Blend on high until smooth.
  3. Store your designer sunbutter in a storage container.