Gluten Free Dairy Free Pancakes

pancakesPancakes are a traditional food for Fat Tuesday. People used up the eggs, flour, and sugars that they wouldn’t be eating during the Lenten Season. I love pancakes for any meal. They can be so versatile. I’ve used leftover pancakes to make sandwiches for lunch, or you could do breakfast for dinner.  This gluten free dairy free pancake recipe is pretty basic, but below the recipe I’ll have some suggested additions you could use to fancy them up a bit.

This recipe is actually my husband’s but he said I could post it. He can follow a recipe with the best of them, but this is the first he’s adapted himself. It was fun watching him learn by trial and error on it.  He will occasionally spoil me and make me breakfast, as he is a morning person and I am not.  I love those mornings!  He likes a classic pancake with some real maple syrup. Here’s his recipe.

1 1/3 cups all purpose gluten free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup of dairy free milk (we use coconut)
2 tbs coconut oil, melted, plus more to grease the pan
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Combine the dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl.  Whisk together the wet ingredients in separate bowl, until fully combined and some air incorporated (this will make the pancakes fluffier). Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. After this is when you would gently stir in any additions from below. Grease a large pan, on medium heat.  When the pan is hot use about ⅓ cup of batter per pancake.  Flip when dry around the edges and bubbles are throughout the edges, about 5-7 minutes. Cook another 4-5 minutes on second side. Serve with real maple syrup.

Variations:

Blueberry: 1 cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen
Apple Cinnamon: 1 cup diced apple and 1 1/2 Tbs of cinnamon
Cherry Pie: 1 cup cherries and 1 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
chocolate chip: 1 cup of dairy free chocolate chips
Orange Cranberry: 2 Tbs orange zest, 1 cup of dried cranberries that have been soaked in water for 15 minutes

The possibilities are endless!

Lemon Garlic Salmon Cakes

A while back I tried Kelly Bejelly’s  salmon cake recipe and really enjoyed it.   It has become one of our staples.  I’ve tried playing with it and have come up with my own version using a favorite flavor combination.  Lemon and garlic are like peanut butter and jelly in my book, they were made for each other.  Since my family follows the Catholic tradition of no meat except fish on Fridays, this is going to come in handy a lot. Using my handy Kitchen Aide stand mixer makes this quick to whip up, but you could easily do it by hand as well.

salmon-cakes

2 cans of Salmon
3 cloves of garlic
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1 Tbs dried parsley
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp dried lemon granules
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 Tbs coconut flour
3 Tbs lemon juice
4 eggs
3-4 tbs coconut oil for frying

In a large bowl combine salmon, celery, garlic, and spices.

Add in the coconut flour and mix until fully incorporated.

Stir in the eggs and lemon juice.

At this point your mixture should be about the moisture level of ground beef. If it’s too wet add some coconut flour, if too dry add a little water. Be careful because it doesn’t take much.

Melt your coconut oil on medium high heat in a large frying pan.

Form your salmon mixture into patties about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

Fry until browned, about 3 minutes a side.

Makes about 16 small patties, which is approximately 4 servings. We enjoy this with lacto-fermented pickles and a large salad.

Sweet And Spicy Pumpkin Soup

sns soup

 It has been bitter cold this winter and I wanted a creamy soup. This recipe contains spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves that make you feel warm and comfy, as well as cayenne and ginger which are said to help with circulation. Put those spices in a rich, soothing base of sweet pumpkin and savory broth and you have the perfect winter soup. I’ve also made it using butternut squash. You can use it as a main course served with crackers for a lighter meal, or as a side dish. It would go great with a roasted chicken.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup

3 cups broth
4 cups pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tbs ghee
1 1/2 Tbs cinnamon
1/8 to 1/2 tsp cayenne, to taste
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp  ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice

Blend all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or using a immersion blender until smooth. Heat on medium in large pot until simmering, stirring occasionally.

Inflammation Causes And Solutions

inflammation causes and solutions

For what inflammation is and its effects on the body, see this previous post.

Causes

Inflammation can be caused by many things, luckily most of them are within our control. It’s important to be aware of the many causes in order to avoid them and the diseases they would trigger.

Dietary sources of inflammation are everywhere in our society. Sugar, processed foods, trans-fats, alcohol, genetically modified foods, refined grains, and MSG are all causes. An intolerance to certain foods will also cause inflammation.

Poor sleep habits lead to inflammation.  Not getting enough shut-eye, or having poor quality sleep can be triggers. Those who get less than 6 hours a night were found to have elevated markers for inflammation.

Damage to the intestines caused by poor diet, food allergies, or antibiotics allows partially digested particles of food into the blood stream.  The immune system attacks these particles because they are not where they belong.  This is often referred to as “leaky gut” and causes inflammation as well as other problems.

Chronic bacterial, viral or yeast infections, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, stress, hormonal imbalances,  environmental toxins, allergens, and some medications are other causes.

Solutions

Avoiding the foods that cause inflammation and adding anti-inflammatory food to our diet can be a big boost to our health. Ginger, turmeric, green tea, tart cherries, omega-3 from nuts and fish, fiber and vitamin E in dark leafy greens, beets, garlic, onions, and some all fight inflammation.

Using probiotics either in supplements or fermented foods can help heal damage to the intestines, blocking a cause of inflammation.  Bone broths can also help with this.

Lifestyle changes such as adding regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and making time to de-stress are important in fighting inflammation. Adding a vitamin D supplement has also been shown to help.

Inflammation is a big factor in how we feel. By avoiding triggers and using some of the simple solutions in this article you can take charge of your health.

Sources

Grzanka, Alicja, Edyta Machura, Mazur Bogdan, Maciej Misiilek, Jerzy Jochem, Jacek Kasperski, and Alicja Kasperska-Zajac. “Relationship between vitamin D status and the inflammatory state in patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria.” 112.2 (2014): n. page. Web. 7 Feb. 2014. <http://www.journal-inflammation.com/content/11/1/2>.

 Marquis, David. “How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health.” Mercola. N.p., 07 Mar 2013. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.asp&xgt;>.

 Hyman, Mark. “Is Your Body Burning Up With Hidden Inflammation?.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 27 Aug 2009. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-body-burning-up-w_b_269717.html>.

Mitchell, Traci D. “9 Foods That Cause Inflammation.” Get Fit Chicago. N.p., 09 Sep 2013. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.chicagonow.com/get-fit-chicago/2013/09/9-foods-that-cause-inflammation/>

 Klein, Sarah. “Inflammatory Foods: 9 Of The Worst Picks For Inflammation.” Huffington Post. N.p., 21 Mar 2013. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/inflammatory-foods-worst-inflammation_n_2838643.html>.

 Macmillan, Amanda. “14 Foods That Fight Inflammation.”Health . N.p.. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html>.

Paddock, Catherine. “Poor Sleep Tied To Inflammation, A Risk Factor For Heart Disease, Stroke.” Medical News Today. 10 Feb 2014.

Nordqvist, Christian. “What Is Inflammation? What Causes Inflammation?.” Medical News Today. N.p., 12 Dec 2012. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php>.

Inflammation What it is And What it Does to You

inflammation

Inflammation is a response of the immune and cardiovascular system to some form of trauma.  The trauma could be physical, such as stubbing your toe, or chemical, such as an allergen. Inflammation is actually an important part of the healing process, but it becomes a problem when the body’s response is inappropriate in strength, length of time, or location.

Chronic Inflammation is inflammation that has gone on for months or years.  It leads to tissue damage and eventually necrosis, or tissue death. This often happens without  the person having any clue that inflammation is to blame.

There is a simple blood test that can reveal your levels of inflammation. The C-reactive protein test measures the level of the protein that rises as inflammation occurs.  Addressing this problem could be a lifesaver. In a study of elderly patients who were otherwise healthy, those with high levels of the C-reactive protein were 260 times more likely to die within 4 years. People rarely think to have this test until they are rather ill and damage has already been done.

Many diseases have inflammation as a root cause, and almost all modern diseases can count it as a factor. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, migraines, gum diseases, thyroid problems, dementia, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, the list goes on and on. Even autism and obesity have been linked to inflammation.

What often happens is that people end up on multiple medications (often with nasty side effects).  The underlying cause of inflammation is rarely addressed, but their symptoms are put under some semblance of control. Despite the person feeling normal, the damage to their body rages on.

Up Next: Inflammation: Causes and Solutions.

Sources:

Nordqvist, Christian. “What Is Inflammation? What Causes Inflammation?.” Medical News Tosay. N.p., 12 Dec 2012. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php>.

Marquis, David. “How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health.” Mercola. N.p., 07 Mar 2013. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.asp&xgt;>.

Hyman, Mark. “Is Your Body Burning Up With Hidden Inflammation?.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 27 Aug 2009. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-body-burning-up-w_b_269717.html>.

“Doctor speaks on health effects of chronic inflammation.”News Medical. N.p., 17 Feb 2011. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.news-medical.net/news/20110217/Doctor-speaks-on-health-effects-of-chronic-inflammation.asp&xgt;>.

How to Sauté Greens

Leafy Greens are great for you. If you don’t have much experience with cooking, don’t let them intimidate you. A simple sauté is an easy way to cook them. In this post I’m going to show you how to sauté swiss chard. You are going to need one bunch of chard, 1/4 cup of cooking oil (sesame, sunflower, or coconut are good choices), salt, a long knife,  a frying pan, and a pair of tongs or utensil to flip/stir your greens. I also throw in a clove of garlic using my garlic press, but that is an optional step.

swiss chard

First rinse off your greens to remove any dirt that may have tried to hitch a ride.

 

chopped chard

Now we are going to prep the greens. Cut off and discard an inch to inch and a half of the end of your stems. Start chopping the stems up into small pieces, about a quarter of an inch but no need to be overly precise. Once you get to the green leafy parts cut them into strips approximately an inch and a half wide. Do two perpendicular cuts to cut your strips into thirds.

Next heat your 1/4 cup of oil up in the pan. Once it’s been warming for a minute or two add your chopped chard.  Top that with a generous amount of salt.

 

add garlic to greensThis next step is optional, so if you don’t like garlic go ahead and omit it.  Peel a garlic clove and put it in your garlic press.  Scrape the crushed garlic into the pan.  If you don’t have a garlic press you can mince, or really finely chop, the garlic. I love my garlic press because it makes the process much faster and garlic much smaller.

Frequently flip and stir the greens or the bottom pieces of chard will turn into char.

 

sauteed grrens finished

When it is wilted and the stems have lost their crunch it’s done.  Serve immediately.  In my personal opinion if you let greens get luke warm they feel slimy and much less appetizing.

You can use this method for other greens, the only variation will be how you prepare them. Baby spinach only needs rinsed and it’s ready to cook.  Be aware that spinach reduces in volume more than chard so you’ll need more of it to make a serving. Kale has a very fibrous stem, so you’ll want to rip the greens off of the main central vein. Then rip it into pieces and continue as with the chard.

Now you know how to sauté greens.  What other methods of cooking them do you use?  Are there any other tutorials you would find useful?

 

Spiced Nut Butter Dip

 

ezaKlC1391744400Need something easy and quick to whip up as a snack for a group?  Mix up this peanut butter based dip, slice up some apples, and you’re good to go.  You could also try using graham crackers for dipping, or it could be great used as filling between two cookies. Yum. For those who are going paleo just use another nut butter, or sun butter for the nut free. If you use an unsalted nut butter you should add a pinch of salt. I brought this to a church social and it was a hit.  You probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already!

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
3/4 cup milk of choice (I used coconut)
1 cup raw honey
2 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

8 or so apples sliced for dipping
Add half the milk to the peanut butter and mix till combined.  Add in the other half and repeat.  Then add in the rest of the ingredients (minus the apples) and keep mixing until combined.  If its too thick slowly add more milk until its the desired consistency.

Why to Eat Your Greens

 Canned spinach. No matter how many cartoon characters gained super strength from it, you’d be hard pressed to get me to eat it. Luckily for me, that’s not the only (nor is it the best) way to get some greens in your diet. Leafy greens are really really good for you, and there are so many different ways to eat them.

 

What am I referring to when I talk about leafy greens? They are exactly what it sounds like; any green leaf vegetable can fit in this category. The darker green they are the better for you they tend to be. So while iceberg may be a starting point, it doesn’t really have much nutritional value. Let’s try to move on up to kale, beet greens, collards, chard… the list goes on. In the past couple years I’ve tried and enjoyed many, but there are more left for me to experiment with. Hopefully by the time you are finished reading this article, you will be inspired to try a new variety yourself.

Leafy Greens are one of the most, if not the most, nutrient dense foods. In other words there are a lot of nutrients per calorie; we get more bang for our buck. Since they tend to be high in fiber they take up stomach real estate so you don’t feel like you need that second portion of whatever. That makes them great for those you are trying to lose weight. For those who are trying to stretch their grocery budget they are also perfect because per pound they cost less then your meat while being better for you than trying to fill up on starches. Greens contain many many vitamins and minerals, more than I could describe in this post. Below I’ll list some of them, and let you know which kind has the most of that particular nutrient. That way if you are looking to add a specific one to your diet you’ll have a starting point. If you try one and don’t like it, go ahead and try it cooked a different way, a different variety, or a totally different plant all together. For example, my favorite way to eat kale is baked as a chip, but swiss chard I prefer sauteed.

One other thing before I get started on the nutrient list. Some of the vitamins in greens are fat-soluble. In order for your body to properly absorb them you need to eat them with a healthy fat. Try an olive oil based dressing on your green salad, or use plenty of butter or an oil such as sesame or sunflower to saute them in. Go ahead and get creative with your combinations.

     »Magnesium:
Although it’s needed in over 300 chemical reactions in the body, millions of            people are magnesium deficient. It is used for bone density, energy production,        and brain function. Low magnesium has been linked to depression, inflammation,      constipation, and many other issues. Spinach is the green with the highest                  magnesium content but beet greens and swiss chard aren’t too far behind.

     » Calcium :
         The most well known benefit of calcium is strong bones and teeth. It is also used in            muscle function, maintaining the heart’s rhythm, acid/alkaline balance, the release of                  neurotransmitters, and many other things. A single serving of collard greens contains over        26% of your daily suggested value of calcium.

     » Vitamin K:
          Vitamin K is another vital nutrient that most people don’t get enough of. It is important        for blood clotting, preventing osteoporosis and atherosclerosis, and preventing                        inflammation. Greens are a great source of vitamin K. Kale has the most, with over 10 times      the daily value. Spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, beet greens, swiss chard and turnip      greens also have a lot of this valuable nutrient.

     » Fiber:
          As stated above fiber is important in helping us feel full, but it also has other uses. Fiber      can lower cholesterol, level out swings in blood sugar, and helps with the excretory system.      All greens are high in fiber, but turnip greens may have the most.

     » Vitamin E
          Vitamin E is good for your hair and skin, protects against heart disease, and may even          fight against mental degeneration due to aging. Spinach and swiss chard contain 25 and 22        % of your daily value respectively.

     Greens are nutritional powerhouses. Other helpful things they contain include the B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotenes, folate, betain, lutein, and iron. They are good for your heart, brain, skin, digestion, muscles, nerves, liver, pancreas, eyes, bones, blood…. pretty much every part of your body.

     Next time your in the store make a stop in the produce section and choose a new type of leafy green to try out. The internet is full of creative ways to eat them. Don’t be afraid to give them a second, third or even fourth chance. There are so many different options, don’t give up until you find one you like!

Bacon Harvest Squash

So my husband asked if we could have bacon in our supper tonight, but none of our usual dishes with it sounded like the right fit.  I’ve been wanting something with fall flavors and thought squash would be a good match with it.  After some google searches for inspiration I came up with this recipe.  I knew it was a hit when it elicited the eye roll AND the happy chair dance from husband. I’d include a picture, but we ate it too fast.  I’ll see if I can’t make it photogenic next time!

Ingredients:

2 acorn squash
1/2 lb bacon ( I use beef bacon but I’m sure pork would work)
1 apple
1 rib celery
1/2 c walnuts (pecans or almonds could substitute well)
1/2 c cranberries
1/8 c onion, diced
2 tsp sage
2-3 tsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil depending on gravity of dairy allergies
salt, pepper to taste ( I never end up measuring those…)

Directions:

First cut the squash in half and scoop out guts.  Cook cut side down in 350
degree oven for 30 minutes.  While that is baking, cook bacon until ALMOST
crispy. Dice the celery, onion and apples, chop the walnuts. Remove the
bacon from pan. Saute diced/chopped ingredients in the bacon grease until
they are just softened. Remove squash from oven when the timer beeps right
in the middle of whatever you were doing.  Let it cool before you burn
yourself. :P Scoop out about half the squash and put in mixing bowl. Rip up
the bacon into smallish bite sized peices and add it, the sauteed
ingredients, sage, salt and pepper to the squash.  Mix well. Spoon the stuffing
back into the squash hollows and top each half with a dollop of
butter/ghee/coconut oil.  Bake 15-20 minutes at 350.  Serve it with a side
salad or other side dish and it will Make 4 servings.

Simple Summer Scramble

summer scramble ingredients

My husband, like many, loves bacon.  We limit our pork consumption, so we do beef bacon.  I personally prefer it anyway. It is delicious. I didn’t like pork bacon much growing up, but this stuff is great. We get ours from Creswick Farms.  Since we are on a tight budget lately we only get it once a month, but boy is it worth every cent.  This month husband wanted it in an egg based dish, so I put it in a scrambled egg skillet with tomato and some fresh herbs that were surplus from my Mother-in-law’s garden. It was a very easy and low maintenance meal.  If you add a side salad this could serve three, or 4 if two of them were small children. The measurements are approximate, as I just threw stuff together and eye-balled it. I don’t have those handy looking herb scissors, so I just ripped up the herbs by hand. Make sure you pre-cook the bacon!

Ingredients:
1/2 pound beef bacon, cooked and chopped
7-8 pastured eggs
1/3-1/2 cup snipped fresh herbs (I used a combo of basil, parsley, and oregano)
1 medium sized tomato, diced
1 tbs coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet on medium heat warm your coconut oil to grease your pan.  Break your eggs in a bowl and beat them until the yolks and whites are fully combined. Pour your eggs into your skillet.  After about 4 minutes or so stir your eggs with a spatula scraping the bottom of the pan and breaking the cooked egg up into chunks. When the eggs are half-cooked add your bacon and tomato.  Continue to cook until the eggs are at your desired done-ness, stirring and scraping occasionally.  (My husband likes his eggs runnier than I do, so this is a point of debate for us.) Remove the skillet from the heat.  Mix in your herbs and serve immediately.

summer scramble

Other possible add ins are chives, onion, or spinach.  However it was great just the way it was.  There’s something appealing about a simple dish with just a few flavors that intermingle well.  I hope you enjoy!