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.

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.

Food Tips, Snacks

Glorious Peanut Butter

When I started avoiding wheat as often as possible, I substituted various nut flours for making things like pancakes and crackers.  This worked well for about a year, then I began getting that tell-tale itch in my throat, first with almonds, quickly followed by hazelnuts.  Oh goody.  I was facing the beginning of an allergic reaction.

Luckily, I have no problems with peanuts, as long as they are organic.  Peanuts are not true nuts, but are classified as ground nuts, so they don’t bother me, but for some, coming in contact with even the tiniest bit of peanut dust can be fatal.

I do not cook with peanut oil or eat a lot of peanuts, but I do love peanut butter.  I like it on rice cakes, on apples and sometimes, right out of the jar.

Because organic peanut butter is so expensive, I try to always buy it on sale.  Then when I finally get around to opening a new jar, it has totally separated and is almost impossible to re-mix.

Recently, I decided to experiment with peanut butter and my Cuisinart stick blender.  I emptied the peanut butter into a glass bowl, no mean feat.  Then I mixed it for several minutes until the oil was completely incorporated again.  I spooned the now soft peanut butter into a glass Mason jar and put it in the fridge.

Several days later, here I am, having some with breakfast and it is still perfectly soft and completely blended .  It looks like the blender emulsified it to the point that it isn’t going to separate again. Yum!

Ramblings

Another Hello!

I wanted to say “Hi” and “Thanks” to everyone who has followed Deadly Nightshade since it started up. Your interest and support is much appreciated.

I’ve been on the road this past week, helping my aunt and uncle get ready to move into a brand new home they will be sharing with other family members. They are in their 80s now, so it was quite a process, packing to move from a two bedroom house into a spacious granny flat.  But we did it!

I’m on my way home today, so I’ll have the weekend to get get back to work on the blog. I’m planning to tackle wheat next and I can see it turning into more than one post.

I’ll definitely be looking forward to your comments!

Beth

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