Food Tips, Meals, Recipes

Barbecue Sauce

We love barbecue.  You can barbecue all kinds of things and there are as many types of sauce as there are lovers of the cooking method.  Many of them are regional, some are based on the special ingredient, but the main problem can be is that they are almost all tomato based.

I can tolerate tomato based products occasionally, my cousin cannot tolerate them at all.  So my daughter started experimenting with other vegetables and surprisingly realized that it’s the spices that count, not the base.

Barbecue sauce is a highly personal condiment, so I’ve provided you with the ingredients, the measurements are up to you and your taste buds.

Fresh or frozen spinach

Butter or olive oil

Garlic powder

Onion granules

Chili powder

Vinegar

Brown sugar

Worcester sauce

Steam the spinach and process in a food processor until you have a paste.  Add the other ingredients to taste and simmer.

That’s it!  Amazingly, it tastes just like any other barbecue sauce.  You can substitute spinach or zucchini or another vegetable of your choice in your favorite recipe.

Food Tips, Meals, Recipes

Autumn Soup

Summer is not even over, but I’m already looking forward to autumn soups and stews.  This recipe is one I concocted a few years ago from some of my favorite ingredients. It does contain chicken broth, cheese, cream and butter, but with a few tweaks, it can become a delicious vegetarian or vegan dish to warm your autumn evenings.

 

Autumn Soup

 

2 large sweet potatoes

1 carnival squash, or your favorite winter squash, about 1.5 c.

6 c. chicken stock

1 clove garlic

1.5 c. sharp cheddar

cream

rainbow chard

butter

salt, pepper, nutmeg

 

Boil the sweet potatoes and allow to cool before peeling.  Cut squash in half, remove the seeds and bake in a 350F oven 30 minutes or until done.  Cool and remove squash from the peel.

Puree the sweet potatoes and squash, along with the stock, in a food processor and add to your soup pot.

Heat the puree, adding minced garlic and grated cheese.

Wash, dry and chop the chard leaves then saute them in butter.

Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chard mixture to the soup and continue to heat through. Stir in cream to taste, heat and serve.

This soup lends itself to many condiments. You can add more cheese, sprinkle with chives or parsley or even top with a spicy Asian sauce.

Bread and Baking, Chemical Sensitivities, Food Sensitivities, Food Tips, Meals, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Wheat

I am extremely fortunate not to be gluten intolerant among all the other food sensitivities I have.  I am, however, wheat sensitive.

Over seventy years ago, my mother’s doctor told her that if she ever wanted to lose weight and keep it off, she had to give up wheat, specifically baked goods.  Back then, doctors were trained to read the body’s signs. They knew things without resorting to a myriad of tests and they trusted their knowledge.

My grandmother’s doctor could look at her hair and know whether or not she needed more thyroid medication.  It was a good thing too, because the problem that runs in my family does not show up in today’s standardized tests.

So,  other  than gluten, what are the problems with wheat?  There are two other major problems with wheat, especially in the United States.  The first is that it has almost become a mono-culture.

According to prevalent statistics, 70-80% of wheat grown in the US is winter wheat. The majority of the remaining wheat grown in the US is hard red spring wheat. We grow wheat that is higher in protein and gluten which is better for mass bread production.

In Europe, for the time being at least, a softer wheat, which is lower in protein and gluten, predominates.

But we now export 55% of our spring wheat crop around the world.

And wheat can be found in almost all processed foods.  If your body is bombarded constantly with the same ingredient over and over, it can lead to a myriad of health problems.

Unless you search specifically for unbleached, unenriched flour, all flour in the US is enriched with vitamins and minerals.  This policy began during World War II as an easy way to get extra nutrients to the troops, who were eating poorly at best. Processing wheat into flour, especially white flour, removes the nutrients, so adding vitamins such as Thiamine and minerals such as iron, seemed like a sensible thing to do.

However, Thiamine is a sulfur based B vitamin and iron is hard to digest for many people.  So for families like mine, you’re getting a double negative effect from the wheat in commercial products.  It lead, in our case, to inflammation, water retention, weight gain and digestive problems.

The rise of the processed food industry, heavily dependent on wheat as a main ingredient, has led to over-exposure to an almost mono-culture product that is chemically modified in the name of better nutrition.

Next week:  The Other Difficulty with Wheat

Food Tips, Meals

A Little About Substitutions

This is going to be a shorter post than I originally planned, because I’ve literally spent the whole last week recovering from my trip to Arizona.  I usually only visit Phoenix in the winter and 100+F temperatures and I don’t agree with each other any more.

So, a short bit about substitutions.

Over the years, I tried to find things with which to replace wheat, because, while I am not gluten intolerant, I am sensitive to the wheat used predominately here in the US. (More on that in a future post.)

I used to make lovely pancakes from almond meal or hazelnut meal, until I started developing sensitivities to those nuts.  Walnuts have always bothered me. So there went that.

Because I had to have my gall bladder out a few years ago due to an inherited condition, I’ve now become sensitive to oils.  By taking digestive enzymes, I can get by with a tiny bit in a salad dressing. Just enough to get the vinegar to cling to the leaves, which is all right by me, because I love vinegar.

However, I’ve also discovered that I have no such problem with butter.  So, if baked goods call for oils, I just use melted organic butter.  I never touch margarine of any type.  Not only is margarine usually made of inferior oils, the process used to make it is unhealthy.

Two things my cousin and my daughter have experimented with recently are variations on pesto and BBQ sauce.

My cousin can’t eat basil, so she makes pesto from arugula, or rocket as they call it in the UK.   My daughter took a traditional Texas Style BBQ Sauce recipe and turned it into a tomato-free delight.  Both those recipes will be appearing here in the coming weeks.

On a final note, if like me, you have problems with foods high in sulfur, I’ve found that I have much less trouble if I use garlic and onion granules in recipes in moderation, rather than using the fresh items.  It’s sad, because I adore both fresh garlic and onions.

I’ve also found that I tolerate shallots and leeks better than onions and white onions better than red, which are, of course, my favorite. And it’s often completely possible to greatly reduce the amount of fresh onions or garlic and still come out with a delicious dish

Never be afraid to experiment.

Meals

How We Prevented Food Sensitivities

When I was pregnant with our daughter in 1990, it was the heyday of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  No more Dr. Spock, thank heavens.  While I had had a big hand in raising my younger siblings, I had no idea about having a baby and only my mother’s horror stories to listen to.

Organic food was just starting to make a wider appearance in the markets where we lived and I jumped on the bandwagon.  I went through the whole time with no caffeine, which meant giving up my beloved black tea. I went without bacon, because there wasn’t any available at that time which was nitrate free and, because there was a salmonella scare where I lived, I ate only scrambled eggs. I avoided onions, garlic and chili.  Incredibly boring.

What I did know is that I intended to breast feed, no matter what it took and I joined La Leche League long before she was born.  I did, indeed. have the same problems as my mother, but with the members’ help, we managed.

Due to the food sensitivities that ran rampant in my family, I was determined to breastfeed solely for the first year. And although I had to fight my in-laws and I did end up supplementing with the occasional bottle of formula (my daughter weighed over ten pounds and was 20.5 inches long at birth), we pulled it off.  In case she had the same metabolic disorder that plagued my family, I wanted to give her the best and easiest start in life possible.

She thrived.

When we began to introduce solid foods, we at first followed traditional suggestions.  Hot cereals first, but no wheat.  We started with oats, because oats are a huge part of both of our ancestral heritages.  We followed up with rice cereal and then moved to fruits.

Traditional methods of introducing solids follow this pattern:

  • Cereals
  • Fruit
  • Orange Vegetables
  • Green Vegetables

Except for the cereals, we totally reversed this pattern.  The initial introduction of fruit led to immediate diaper rash.  So we tried yellow vegetables, carrots first.  Same thing. We went on to green vegetables and, lo and behold, no rash.

We gave it several weeks before we re-introduced yellow vegetables and even longer before we tried fruits again.  With fruits, we started with blueberries, which again are an ancestral fruit for our family.  All went well with this plan, until we hit strawberries and tomatoes.

When I was little, strawberries gave me hives.  This was one thing I passed on to my daughter.  Eventually, we grow out of it.

Every time she ate anything with tomato sauce, she broke out in a rash wherever it touched her skin.  Babies are messy, so you can imagine. All I could think about was, if it’s doing this to her skin, what is it doing internally? So no tomatoes until she was quite a bit older.

For the first few months, I made my own baby food, then Earth’s Best Organic Baby Foods came on the market and we had a wider choice available to us.  Easier to travel too.

Our daughter weaned herself at eighteen months and moved right on to forty ounces of organic whole milk a day from a bottle.  I really tried to get her to use a cup, but she threw it across the room after the first taste and I just didn’t have the energy for that.

She later told me it was because it tasted different coming from the cup than from the bottle.  Given that she can name different types of pasta solely by taste today, I believe it.

In the long term, she has had very little difficulty with food sensitivities as an adult and I believe it was our approach to feeding which accomplished that.

As a nurse in the teaching hospital we were stuck in for several days after she was born said to a group of her students, “Listen to and respect the mother. She knows her child best.”

Don’t hesitate to switch things up, if it suits your child better.  As long as they are eating nutritious food, they will be fine.  Track nutrition over the period of a week, not day by day and you’ll find yourself more relaxed about their food intake.

The best lesson I learned from the women of La Leche League was that you will have enough battles with your children. Don’t make one of them about food.

Meals, Recipes

Simple Italian Sauce

2 jars Mediterranean Organic fire roasted red peppers

2 cloves garlic

1 tlbs. minced onion

Basil

Oregano

Olive oil

Drain, rinse and de-seed the fire roasted red peppers.  Puree in a food processor to the texture of your choice.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet or saucepan just until you can smell the fragrance of the oil.  Add the onion and stir for 2 minutes.  Peel the garlic, put it through a garlic press and add, along with basil, oregano and other herbs of your choice. Stir briefly before adding pepper puree.

Let the sauce simmer until the flavors have blended to your taste. Use as you would a tomato based sauce. We love it on homemade pizza and lasagna.

 

 

 

 

Food Sensitivities, Meals, Recipes

Chili Con Carne

Due to their high sulfur and acid content, I’m extremely sensitive to tomatoes.  But I still love my late mother’s recipe for Chili Con Carne, so I developed a work around.

While red peppers, garlic and onions all contain sulfur, I find that this works for me on occasion, since the load is less than if I used tomatoes as the recipe calls for.

Some chili aficionados will blanch, because yes, I do thicken this dish.  Traditionally, it is thickened with flour, but I often use potato starch to avoid the wheat.  I also use as many organic ingredients as I can, but I still haven’t found organic spiced chili beans.

I cook this dish and other soups and stews in my Le Creuset cookware, but any type of heavy pan will do.

Serve it up with your favorite grated cheese, chopped onions, sour cream or condiments of your choice.

In our house this dish  is usually accompanied by saltines.  When I was a child, I would slather them with butter and marmelade.  Today, I just skip them.

Chili Con Carne

1 lb. ground beef

1 Spanish onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

1 16 oz. jar Mediterranean Organic Fire Roasted Red Peppers, drained

2 15 oz. cans Chili Beans

20 oz. water

Salt and Pepper

1/4 c. organic  white flour or Bob’s Red Mill potato starch

5 tsps. ground chili powder

Saute the ground beef in a large heavy saucepan, dutch oven or enameled cast iron pan. When it is brown, add the chopped onions and saute until soft.  Add the garlic clove and saute for 1 minute.

While the meat is browning, drain and rinse the peppers and process in a food processor until liquid.

Add the peppers, water, beans, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 1 hour.

Combine the flour or potato starch with 5 tsps. powered chili and add to the dish, stirring well until combined.  Simmer for a further 15 minutes and serve.