Food Sensitivities, Food Tips, Recipes

Avocado Pasta Sauce

This recipe is one that my cousin makes 2-3 times a month.

The measurements for this sauce are pretty inexact, but are roughly as follows:

1 ripe avocado
35-40g cashews
2-3 large handfuls of baby spinach
Enough non-dairy milk (oat or almond recommended) to get the blender moving
Salt and Smoked Paprika to taste

Recipe is very simple – chuck everything in your blender or food processor of choice and blitz until smooth. Sauce can be heated on the stove or the microwave and freezes really well. This recipe produces 3-4 helpings of sauce, depending on how much you like on your pasta, or will serve as many for a single meal.

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.

Bread and Baking, Recipes

Vegan Banana Coconut Muffins

I’ve been making this recipe for years. Originally this was a recipe for Banana Bread, gotten from my mum, but I switched to simply putting the batter in muffin tins because the oven I was working with cooked them more evenly. Now, I’m just lazy, because I’ve found the loaves are a bit too hard to get right. They’re either over or under done, but which ever way you choose to make them, is up to you.

Over the last couple years I’ve made some new friends who are vegan, and my sister developed lactose intolerance, so I’ve had to modify. I also moved to the UK, where it’s very hard to find Crisco (an American shortening) and it’s quite expensive if you do find it. To that end, I have listed my modified recipe below:

¾ cup sugar
½ cup coconut oil
½ tsp salt
2-4 mashed banana
¼ cup sour milk*
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour

*To make sour milk, mix ¼ cup milk of your choice, I use oat typically, with ¾ tsp of cider vinegar and let sit for a few minutes.

Start by mixing sugar and oil together, add bananas and mix until you have a smooth batter, this can be done by hand or with a mixer, then add salt, baking soda, sour milk, and flour and mix. You’ll want to look for a fluffy and airy consistency. I’ve never had an issue with over mixing but it is possible, just like with pancakes. You’ll end up with heavy muffins/bread.

This recipe originally called for 2 eggs but I’ve found it doesn’t really make much difference as the bananas act as their own binding agent. If your batter seems a bit too dry, simply add an extra tablespoon or two of your non-dairy milk.

Preheat your oven to 325F, 180C

For bread bake 1 hour or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.

For muffins bake approximately 20-25 minutes, checking often after 20 minutes. For me I go by smell. As soon as I smell it wafting out of the oven, I check the muffins and 9/10 they’re done.

Enjoy!

Caitlin

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.