Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review: Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis

I read. Perhaps too much at times. I usually have 3 books I am reading, and 1 am listening to going at the same time. It seems nuts, but it allows me to have some diversity.
The recent non-fiction, health nut book I decided to read was "Wheat Belly" by Dr. William Davis.
Thing is, I didn't need convincing to not eat gluten. We have no choice with a celiac, and I know I feel like total garbage if I eat it. And we've decided that with two parents not doing well with gluten, our little one shouldn't eat it either. So that's done. But here I went, wanting more data.

Long story short, I recommend this book to anyone willing to read a health book (I know some people just don't do that - or don't want to face the hard facts that your health and what you eat are linked). Dr. William Davis does a good job laying out the connection of wheat to your health. It's pretty darn clear. People are not meant to eat wheat in it's present day form.

What do I mean by 'present day form'? Read the book - he has a whole piece about the evolution of wheat and why 1950 wheat is different than 2013 wheat.

There were 2 things I wasn't too fond of:
1. He recognizes celiac disease, but sort of glosses over it. So if you have celiac, this will be interesting, but it's not the book to help you understand what 'it' is and how to really live with it.
2. He actually recommends not eating any grains or legumes. His point is to strictly portion control if you do consume them, but that the impact to blood sugar regulation is strong and therefore it should be avoided. Generally though, I personally feel like unless you have a very sensitive gut, the benefits outweigh everything else.

So check it out if you are curious about why you might feel bloated, have achy joints, water retention, eczema, cholesterol issues or excess weight. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Easiest, Tastiest GF Pancakes - Buckwheat

We love pancakes. Leena has never had 'real' pancakes with 'real gluten' - so she really doesn't know the difference. However, Ben and I do. And I think there are three categories of pancakes:
1. Super fluffy and light
2. Dense and more of a healthy 'wholesome' pancake (these are usually the whole wheat pancakes)
3. Something in between

This is a #3 recipe. They are not super light, but not super dense. They are so delish. I hope you try them, even if you are not gluten free. The best part is the base is buckwheat. For those of you not familiar with buckwheat - it is neither wheat, nor a grain. It's actually a seed. And it's delicious. My boss is Russian (where buckwheat is a daily staple) and we always talk about how this is 'the' food. It has so many ways of being cooked, and it's so good for you, so filling and so tasty.

Basically, buckwheat flour is just taking what are often called buckwheat groats (these) and blending them in the blender for 2-3 minutes, or until a flour. Easy. And just one extra step. I promise - NOT HARD! :)

Next, you can use 2 eggs if you don't want to do this vegan. But grinding flax seeds is also, very, very easy. It provides some extra fatty acids (translation - more filling so you will skip the sugar later in the day) and extra fiber (translation - fills you up).

This is now our Sunday morning 'thang'. Try it!

2 cups Buckwheat Flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbls coconut or date sugar or regular old sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground flax meal (or 2 eggs)
2 cups 'milk' (we have used all sorts, but it's extremely delicious with a full can of coconut milk)
1/4 cup melted spectrum butter flavored margarine, or butter (we like the butter flavored margarine because the buttery-ness makes this really nice)

Preheat your skillet or griddle on a medium-high heat.

Follow a standard 'mix the dry'. 'Mix the wet'. Mix together.

Take a 1/4 cup measuring cup and spoon into the pan. Let the bubbles form and pop. When it completely stops, and the top looks kind of dry/almost done, flip over and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes.

The best way to keep these warm is a tortilla warmer. But you can also stack two plates on top of each other.
These refrigerate very well too.

Real maple syrup
Coconut oil

Crispy Salmon with Garlic, Caper Mustard Sauce

I love the idea of "Seafood Saturday". Something about the weekend makes it easy to go get fresh seafood, prepare it and then clean it up - because ain't nothin' worse than the smell of any fish that had been sitting around from the night before. Gross.

So last Saturday, we cooked this up. Actually, Ben did all the work. But hey, now I am doing the work of blogging about it so we can all enjoy it and I can remember what we did!

This was a hit with the little one too - and great for her growing body too!

Note that the type of salmon you get really matters. I follow these rules:
1. SMELL it! Always smell your food. Who cares if you look weird doing it, your fish should smell fresh. If it doesn't, pass and move on.
2. Do not buy farmed salmon. As a matter of fact, steer clear of all farmed salmon. Do a basic web search on this and you will know why.
3. Buy in season and you will get the freshest, most local fish.
4. I personally prefer King Salmon. Sockeye is everywhere, but it has a mushy texture to me. King is firm and the tasiest.

1 lb of fresh salmon, Skin off for maximum crispy  
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbls dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1-3 tbls dry white wine
Few tbls olive oil
1/4 cup capers
1 lemon sliced thin
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Mix the garlic, mustard and herbs in a bowl. Whisk in the wine and olive oil.

Heat your skillet. Add a few good rounds of olive oil. Toss in the lemon and capers and just start to heat. Lay your salmon in. Let brown on one side. Toss in sauce. Flip salmon. Let cook until just done.

Serve on plate with more lemon. Enjoy!

Pictured here with a fresh green salad (from my garden!) and quinoa flakes (we used homemade broth as the base). I love quinoa flakes - it's so quick and so creamy! You can find them here (and local folks - New Leaf and Whole Foods both carry these)

Turkey Sweet Potato Soup

It's become somewhat of a meditation for me to spend one of my weekend days making soup for Miss Leena. Her meals are always balanced, but the soup is the easiest way she gets it all in one. Plus, she still lets her day time care provider feed her (all bets are off for mom, dad and Nana to do this - she insists she feed her-own-self!).
As I have mentioned before, I do something different each week. I try to mix up the veg and the meat and grains (or no grains) each week. This particular mixture was a 'no grain' week. I doubled it and have been enjoying it myself! The only difference is when I warm it up for myself, I season it with salt.

Here goes - wholesome and tasty goodness for your little ones!

1 lb ground turkey (ideally you get this fresh, organic/natural - pre-packaged ground meat usually has a filler of some sort in it)
1 medium sweet potato (in this case, I used a jewel yam - not a white sweet potato) small chop
1 zucchini, small chop
1/2 onion, small chop
2 carrots, small chop
1 stalk of celery, small chop
6 Cups of stock (or water - but homemade broth is my preference)

Follow the usual method here - Enjoy!

Remember, you can always puree these same soups for little, little babies - but once your kiddo can chew and handle more solid foods, starting with the ground meat seems to be the easiest. And then small chopping any veg so they don't choke and they can fit it in their mouth is ideal. You can cook this for an hour, or two or three - and everything gets really soft. So I never really worry about her handling it in her mouth (although - she has all her teeth now :))

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fava Bean Pesto

Fava beans are still a fairly new food to my palette - and I adore them. If I had to guess, most folks look at them and don't know what to do with them. Others might have tasted them and thought they didn't like them. But for those of us that have figured out that if you get fresh fava beans, and prepare and cook them just right - they are divine.

This recipe is an example of that.

It is a labor of love. And if you have a little one - this might be done in steps (as outlined below) over a day or two (I've written the steps in the order I would suggest if you can't do this all at once). And trust me, it's just as good that way. If you have an older little one (3+ years old), enlist them to help! And if you are just plain busy, still try this on a weekend when you find good, fresh fava beans.

3-4 cups shelled fava beans (I started with about 3/4 of a plastic bag full of whole fava beans)
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1-2 cloves garlic (garlic adds spice here so adjust for your taste)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 Cup of more of olive oil

Step 1: Take the fava beans out of their shell
Step 2: Boil the fava beans for 5 minutes (don't go beyond this)
Step 3: Let cool and peel the outer shell. Note that you can keep this on, but it's bitter. Especially for a toddler taste - it's probably best to peel all the way.
Step 4: In a food processor, pulse the garlic. Then the pinenuts. Then add the beans and the olive oil and salt and pepper. 

The more (and higher quality olive oil) and salt you add, the more it will mellow the flavor. 

Our recent favorites to use this on are:
1. Quinoa pasta (we love this one) - Our little one GOBBLED this pasta up. To enrich it you can add frozen or fresh peas. To make a bit more fancy, you can add truffle oil. 
2. Make zucchini 'noodles' using something like this, and saute a bit and then toss a few tablespoons of this in. 

Here is an old fava bean posting for something with skins on 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baby Soup: Lamb and Squash

Following my standard baby food recipe, here is one of Leena's favorites!

1/4 lb ground lamb
1 cup butternut squash (or sweet potato), peeled and diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup spinach
2-3 cups broth

Follow the standard baby soup recipe and enjoy!

Baby Soup Method: Turkey Parsnip Soup

It's winter time and it's perfect for root vegetables like parsnip and squash for baby. My method for making baby soups is generally the same - I pick a carb, several veg and a protein and some of our homemade chicken broth. I combine them all together and cook until very tender. In most cases I blend it - even though Leena can handle picking up chunks of food and putting them in her mouth. Usually her lunch is a soup that I feed her and breakfast and dinner she gets foods that she can feed herself with.
You can also vary the consistency - more, or less broth, depending on what your baby needs.

I love doing this because it gives them good bone broth which is good for their skin, bones and body with all the minerals and collagen. It also makes an entirely balanced meal with the carb-veg-protein mix.

Basic Method:
Boil broth (or water)
Dump in 1/4 lb meat
1 cup squash or root veg (or you can do 1/2 cup of a grain like quinoa, rice or amaranth)
3/4 cup zucchini
1 cup green like spinach or chard
Sometimes, 1/2 cup of fruit like apple or pear

I usually start with ground meat (free range, grass fed, organic - don't go cheap on this). You can do whole, and then chop, but ground skips a chopping step. The one thing I do differently with beef and lamb is I boil it first in just water, and then skim any foam that comes to the top. Once that boils for about 5 minutes, I add the rest.
Cook until all the veg is really tender. Let cool. Blend and puree!

This usually makes enough for half to be eaten within 3 days, and then the other half to be frozen. I freeze in ice cube trays for a day, then defrost and put in a labeled ziploc bag. This is great because then you have lunches/dinners ready any time baby needs to eat.

Turkey Parsnip Soup
1/4lb ground turkey
1 small parsnip, peeled and diced
1 small fennel bulb, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
2 cups broth
1/2 pear, diced (you can keep peel on)

Follow baby soup method above.