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Posts tagged ‘recipes’

Lately, my son has gotten tired of the same-ol’ beans and cereal day in and day out. I don’t blame him. That’s nearly all he has eaten for 2 solid years. Add to that the fact that he seems moderately allergic to beans, as well as the facts that we are a vegetarian family, and that he is allergic to eggs and dairy and nuts, and, well, you have a problem.

That is, a protein problem. Granted, grains like quinoa and amaranth are complete proteins, as is hemp, which he drinks every day (but not a lot, because it’s expensive). But he doesn’t get quinoa and amaranth every day. And I don’t want to give him the same foods every day, because that will just make him more susceptible to sensitivities to them.

So I’ve been working on new ways to fix his food. Of course, cooking a batch of cream of rice or amaranth or millet cereal in the morning and adding several cubes of pre-cooked and frozen beans is very simple and easy, but I always knew I would eventually have to start actually cooking and baking for him. Well, the time has come.

The first grain to get changed into something other than cereal was Teff. I invented a recipe for teff pancakes. I’m sharing that recipe on my eczema blog.

We also decided, after much deliberation, to add a little meat to his diet. Right now, that looks like chicken once a week added to shredded yuca (cassava). I am also sharing that recipe on my eczema blog.

However, there are several recipes that I have found that he likes. I love the simplicity of some of  them!

This Baked Amaranth Cracker/Flatbread is made from the grain, not amaranth flour, and is very simple to make. I mean, very simple. I added a little basil to the mix, since he can’t have the topping (I’ve never tried pumpkin seeds, but I’m really afraid to). I still need to come up with some kind of topping for them. That is hard, since nuts and avocado are all out, and those make the best creamy vegan sauces. But he will eat these, and he likes them. I served it with some slices of cucumber, and he enjoyed the meal very much.

This GF Biscuit recipe was a real hit. Since he can’t have eggs or egg replacer, I used quarter mashed banana, because I only made a half a recipe. You can use 1/2 a banana plus 1/8 tsp of extra baking powder for egg in baking, but I didn’t think 1/16 of baking powder was really necessary! I wanted to use a little less starch, so I replaced 1/4 of the starch with sorghum flour (doubling the sorghum called for). They turned out better than the last batch did (where I put in too much banana and otherwise followed the recipe, and now have more whole grains in them. I also threw in a scant tablespoon each of chia seeds and hemp protein for extra protein, and he didn’t even notice. Chia seeds are a complete protein and really a powerhouse. Research them sometime. I am very excited to discover that my local WinCo carries them! Manny will eat chia seeds by the spoonful (2 or 3 baby spoonfuls), and they have very little flavor. I think they actually improved the texture as well (since they tend to gel, kind of like flax seeds).

When you can’t have wheat or corn, tortillas become almost impossible. Rice tortillas leave much to be desired, as do most GF tortillas you can buy. But these millet tortillas are so easy, especially if you have a tortilla press. I do, but it’s in storage, so I improvised with a flat-bottomed skillet. It worked almost as well. Unfortunately, Manny only liked the first two, and then he didn’t want more. If there was something I could dip them in or roll inside of them… maybe beans? I’ll have to experiment. But he’s not very good at eating stuff with toppings… he just licks off the topping! We might make them once in a while for ourselves, though, and they are perfect for those who can’t have gluten or corn!

And for dessert, well, this Blueberry Crumb Cake was the bomb! My husband said he couldn’t tell it was gluten free! I used the banana/baking powder trick in place of eggs, and it rose beautifully. I made two batches: one as a cake, and one as muffins (which of course cooked in about half the time as the cake). It’s good with and without the topping. This site also has many GF cooking and baking tips (it’s where I learned about the banana-instead-of-egg idea). I highly recommend browsing it if you are on a GF diet. Many of the recipes are vegan (because the author cannot tolerate casein), though some do include meat (usually with vegetarian variations). She makes GF look so easy! Indeed, this cake was my first attempt at GF baking without a boxed recipe (Betty Crocker has about 3 GF mixes that you can buy at most grocery stores, and I made a couple at a friend’s house once), and I really expected it to flop. Instead, it turned out lovely, and my son had a delicious cake for his birthday, and muffins for dessert once a week since!

Lastly, there are these delicious GF Molasses Cookies. Manny wasn’t terribly fond of them, and I think it was mostly because of the ginger (which he can’t seem to tolerate in the quantity that is in the cookies). They turned out perfectly, though, and I took a dozen to a friend whose son has a lot of allergies. The whole family tried them, and she informed me they are better than store-bought cookies. I totally agree. Granted, they aren’t super healthy. I mean, 3/4 cup of shortening (palm oil, not hydrogenated oils) is quite a bit of fat. Maybe I could cut it down by increasing the applesauce. But I usually like to do a recipe the way it says the first time–especially baked goods. Then experiment later. I think Manny would like them better without the ginger. He loves molasses, after all.

I tried split pea soup on him, but he seemed to react to the peas. I had suspected that he would, being legume and all. But he enjoyed it a lot. I think I could make a veggie soup with quinoa using the same seasonings I used in the pea soup (garlic, sweet basil, marjoram, bay leaf, salt). I’ve been avoiding onions, because touching them and then rubbing his face made him break out. Whether that was an allergic reaction, or simply sensitive skin, I don’t know. But for now, I don’t feed them to him directly. Though he did eat some carrots I had cooked in a stock made of scraps of veggies used to make dinner (I put 3 baby carrots in the stock for variety), and he loved them, as well as the bits of zucchini my husband didn’t eat from his salad. They were cooked with onion, and he seems fine with it. So maybe he is okay. I’m going to play it by ear at this point!

What simple GF recipes do you use? I’d love for you to share them!

Have you noticed that food prices have been going up? Even with all the bulk buying that I do, it seems that it is getting harder and harder to stay within my budget. Some months I have to supplement a few dollars of my personal money to get us through the month–or ask my husband for a little of his.

There are certain meals that are rather popular in our family, but some of those are a little pricier than others. For instance, we all like scrambled tofu on sweet potatoes, but sweet potatoes are not cheap. I almost always buy them for my son, who is on such a limited diet that I get him whatever he can eat even if it’s not exactly cheap (and since he’s little, he doesn’t require large quantities, thank goodness!), but for the rest of us, I change things around.

So instead of tofu over sweet potatoes, I’ll cook some cornmeal the night before and put it into a glass bread pan. In the morning, I slice and bake. Voila! Baked cornmeal!

Another favorite meal is seasoned oven fries dipped in sunflower seed sour cream mixed with avocado. When avocados get too expensive, I use tomatoes and cilantro instead (if my daughter liked spicy hot, I’d throw in a serrano pepper, but she doesn’t yet). When I run out of red potatoes (the best kind for oven fries) and money is short, I cook a pot of savory oatmeal. That is, I use a powdered chicken or beef style powdered broth to make it savory, then pour the plain sour cream over it, and add some onion rings. These onion rings are sauted in little oil with a couple dashes of salt and a quirt of lemon juice. My daughter does not like onions, but she loves this style, because the lemon juice takes the oniony taste right out. She calls them worms. That makes a rather tasty and nutritious breakfast that sticks a little longer than the oatmeal/milk/fruit breakfast that most Americans eat. Of course, we still eat some fruit if we have it, just not in the oatmeal.

When I get tired of regular lentils, I grab some spices and change the flavor. Add curry powder, cumin, tumeric, and ginger powder to the fresh onions and garlic and celery that I would normally put in a pot of lentils, and suddenly they are Indian style lentils! I like to put some extra cayenne pepper on mine, especially on a cold day (of which Oregon has had a lot this summer). Serve over rice. I especially like to do this with red lentils, though it will work for just about any kind of lentil.

When I decide I can’t afford to buy tofu and I’m too busy or lazy to make it (right now I have a good excuse–my tofu mold is an hour’s drive away and I don’t have a car), I make a soy souffle. This I serve over millet or quinoa or buckwheat or whatever whole grain I feel like cooking up (those 3 are our favorites for eating with souffle, though I suppose you could use rice or Bulgar wheat too).

We like to eat eggplant sliced and breaded with pasta, but I only buy it once or twice a month. Pasta alone does not satisfy my husband–he needs more protein. So I found a delicious recipe for Italian white beans. My slow cooker is about 10 feet away from my tofu mold, so I just cook the white beans in my pressure cooker, add extra water and all the other ingredients, and cook on low for about half an hour or until my husband gets home. He is picky about white beans, but loves this style. I use dried tomatoes I get in a bin at the grocery store instead of the ones canned in oil, because they’re cheaper, so I find that soaking them in hot water for a while while the beans cook helps (and I can add the water to the beans too). I also use manzanilla olives instead of the olives they call for (because that’s usually what I have on hand, other than regular black olives, which would add nothing to the flavor!). Rice pasta (since I’m trying to avoid wheat) with a cheap pasta sauce doctored a little (usually extra onions and dried basil, maybe some mushrooms or olives if I feel like it) and these beans makes a complete meal.

In my quest to find a substitute for wheat bread, I discovered this tasty recipe for 100% rye bread. I use carob powder instead of espresso powder, but other than that, I follow the recipe to a T. It looks like a lot of work, but actually, you only have to stir it for about 3 minutes, then turn it into an oiled mixing bowl and let it rise twice before transferring it to a greased bread pan to rise again, then bake it. It actually rises quite nicely, and the flavor is, well, if you like rye bread, you’ll love this! It holds together well enough to work for sandwiches, and it rises enough to not be too heavy (for me, anyhow). Sure, it’s not gluten free, but I don’t seem to be bothered by gluten. Just wheat. Hasn’t stopped me from eating it entirely, but I do best if I eat it no more than once a week (of course, if I stopped eating it completely, I’d probably do even better, but I’m doing well enough to be content for the moment). I buy organic rye flour in the 10-pound bag, so it’s actually really good bread. And even though rye flour is not as cheap as wheat, homemade rye bread is cheaper than a good loaf of whole wheat–or rye bread, for that matter!

Well, I think the souffle we’re having for tomorrow’s breakfast has cooled enough. That means I need to get off, go brush my teeth, and hit the sack. I hope you enjoyed my musings, and hopefully you’ve gotten some ideas on how you can save money when the end of the month hits again in a few weeks and there seems to be more month than food-budget money. If you’re in the habit of buying cheap food in bulk, you’ll be sure to make it!

I know it has almost nothing to do with this post, but it's just too cute!

By douglasleemiller on Flickr

It’s the end of the year, and time to think about New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t been one to make a lot of resolutions; some year I don’t even bother to make any at all. But this week I read a couple of blogs that made me think about setting goals for next year. Caroline at The Modest Mom blog talked about several goals she has for the new year. Sarah at Sarah’s Hearts Home reviewed the goals she made last year and shared how she had had succeeded–or not. So I have been inspired to make a list of things I would like to accomplish this next year, and I want to share it with you. (Note about the picture: I wanted a picture, and I just couldn’t resist this one! You should click on it and read the caption under it!)

First Month’s Goals

These are things I would like to focus on during the first month of the year–my top priorities:

Work on obedience with the kids. This will mean keeping them with me more and following through when I issue commands to be sure that they are executed. Gislaine specifically needs to learn to deal with disappointments and to willingly obey the first time, quickly and cheerfully. To accomplish this, I plan on helping her by practicing proper responses to problematic situations, to help her learn how to react instead of just letting her react however she wants.

Make and keep the home more organized. I have gotten a good start on it–I promise to update the office decluttering project soon, but so far it’s coming along.

Go to the gym or walk at least 4 days a week. Just basically more exercise, and that’s how I plan to make it happen.

Spend more time in personal devotions. The next goal is the key to this one; when I can’t get up early, I want to learn how to take time during the day to connect to God.

Go to bed before 10:00 every night.

Have more consistent morning worship. I guess I always thought of this as the husband’s job, and it is so hard to stop my day once it is started… But my husband leaves home just as the kids are waking up most days, so having him lead out in morning worship most days is not practical. I’m not exactly sure how I am going to do this, but I am going to pray about it and then just do something–even if it’s just a song, a prayer, and reading a Bible story. This is very important.

Not get online until the important housework is done

Watch the seminar. This looks interesting. If I really like it, I may blog about it later.

Wow! That seems like a lot of things to do in January. But some of them are not too involves (like bedtime) and some I have already started (like being more organized), so we wlll see how it goes. I’ll have to post an update at the end of January to let you know how I’m doing–and to help myself see where I need to focus more.

Second Month’s Goals

Come February I would like to add the following items to my 2011 goals:

Structure the kids’ days more so I can keep them with me more. This means that instead of saying, “Go play,” I will try to come up with an activity they can do near me. This will require some creativity and probably some sacrifice on my part, but I know it can be done.

Spend more time playing with the kids. This is one way of binding their hearts to mine. I haven’t done it enough lately.

Get my monthly and semi-annual cleaning on track. This means all the lists of things that need to be done on a not-so-regular basis will get incorporated into my iPod’s to-do list program. That way things will come up on my daily to-do list so I can remember to do them. This will include things like washing windows, dusting baseboards, cleaning the light diffusing bowls, etc. I have lists already made up, but I need to get them where I will actually see them.

Blog more consistently, at the same time limiting my time online. I want to post 3-4 times a week at least, but I need to focus on what I am doing online and avoid surfing and wasting time. I need to plan my posts, too, so that I can be more efficient with my time online.

Eat more vegetables. I like veggies, but they get expensive and sometimes I just forget to eat them. So I’m making it a goal to try to get more of them in my diet–to just be more consistent about making sure they are on the table to eat every day.

Goals for the Rest of the Year

The rest of my list is more of a want-to-do, or else a seasonal activity that isn’t something I could start in the winter. So once I get the above under control, or when summer comes, I want to keep these things in mind:

Try at least 2 new recipes every month. I have gotten into a rut of just fixing the same ol’ stuff all the time. I need to put in some variety once in a while. But I’m not going to stress about it in January; my monthly menu is already made up.

Plant and maintain a small garden. I got gardened out as a kid (my mom once had a 1,000 square foot garden!), but I really want to have some home-grown delights. And hubby has spent so much time and effort on getting rid of the blackberries that overran the garden area…

Spend more time outside on nice days. The previous goal should help this one. And now that I have an iPod, I could go out and sit under a tree and write blogs while the children play nearby. But that won’t be happening for a few months yet!

Knit Gislaine a sweater and everyone some socks. I learned to knit before learning any other related craft. But now it seems so slow compared to crocheting or sewing. But I love homemade wool socks and found some expensive wool at the Goodwill for cheap, so I really should do it. I even found good free patterns online, and my mom gave me a whole set of needles, so I have no legitimate excuses.

Do the bulk of my sewing in the winter when it’s too cold to be outside. Last summer I spent too much time sewing and got burned out by winter, when it’s too cold to be outside. I don’t want that to be the start of a trend. Which means I need to start figuring out what I need to make for next summer soon.

So there is my list. I will review the first two items over the next two months, and then the whole thing at the end if the year.

So what are your resolutions/goals for the new year? I’d love to hear them. If you have blogged about them, be sure to post the link in your comment.

The other day we got a Highlights High Five magazine in the mail. Inside there were instructions for making a “curly crown.” I decided to let Gislaine do as much of the work as she was capable of doing. That meant all I did was fold the paper and show here where to cut, draw stars for her to color (since we’re out of stickers at the moment), and later do the final fitting. She did everything else. Here’s the result:

Gislaine made it all by herself

I know I haven’t been posting much here lately. Last month was supposed to be tofu month, but all I did was refer you to the post I did on making tofu–never posted any recipes. Sorry! I’m taking a little break from blogging for the most part and trying to get my eBay business figured out. Yes, a friend of mine got me started selling stuff on eBay. I need to get things organized and budget my time so that it doesn’t consume me.

So January will be tofu month. I promise! And in the mean time, I have a guest post in the works that will be coming out on Thursday, so watch for that. And I’ll try to make a post now and then between now and January. :) Encouragement will make it more likely, so please let me know if you miss my posting here. Thanks!

I picked up this really great book at the Goodwill the other day for $5, and I’ve got to tell you about it. I think it may be the secret behind why I’ve struggled to lose weight in the past, in spite of a fairly good diet.

Eat More, Weigh Less by Dr. Dean Ornish is a simple diet plan that anyone could do. It’s more a change of lifestyle than your typical diet, though. His basic idea is that you cut your dietary fat down from 40% of calories from fat (the typical American diet) to 10% (much lower than the recommended 30%), and increasing your carbohydrates. He does this by cutting out meat (which is pretty much always more than 10%), nuts, and other fatty foods. The idea is that you can eat until you are satisfied (not stuffed), and will actually get fewer calories and thereby lose weight.

Dr. Ornish believes that this radical change in diet (removing meat and cooking without oil) is easier to make than simply cutting down on the amount of fat, as the FDA recommends, because the results are almost instantaneous. For instance, on a typical diet that provides 30% of the recommended calories from fat, you have to eat small portions and often feel hungry when the food is all gone. On his diet (which he calls the Life Choice diet), you are able to until you are satisfied, so you are less likely to reach for some not-so-healthy snack later. In fact, in a study done on some women, some of whom ate his diet and some of whom ate the typical 30%-from-fat, small-portions diet, they found that those who ate the low-fat diet ate about 15% fewer calories and lost twice as much as the other group.

This makes a lot of sense to me. I have heard the typical “calories in must be less than calories spent to lose weight,” but I could not imagine trying to count calories. I remember reading sample diet plans and thinking, “How could I survive on that little food?” Then there was my husband, who could eat as much as he wanted and still not gain—who exercises to gain weight! I realized that the missing ingredient in the whole counting-calorie thing was the metabolism. If you have a fast metabolism, you can (and should) eat more. If it’s slow, you can eat almost nothing and you might even gain weight.

Most diet books don’t address this issue. They just focus on calories in, calories out. But Eat More, weigh Less spends a great deal of time on this issue. In fact, in that same study I just mentioned, “the principle investigator, Dr. David Levitsky, [stated that] your metabolic rate is related to the amount of carbohydrates you consume. . . . When you increase consumption of carbohydrates, your metabolic rate may increase.” That makes a lot of sense.

Plus there’s always the issue of gaining weight back once the “diet” is over. That’s why this book is not a diet that you go on to lose weight, then go off of when you’ve achieved your goal. It’s a comprehensive lifestyle change that you will continue for the rest of your life.

Dr. Ornish suggests that it is easier to make such a drastic change in diet than to make a small change, because the results are so instantaneous. He actually developed this diet not as a weight-loss program but as a heart-disease reversal program. There are many benefits to this kind of a diet, and many of them can be felt within days or weeks. This “quick fix” kind of reaction, Dr. Ornish argues, is just the motivator people need to stick with the diet and make it part of their lifestyle.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “I couldn’t eat a diet that low in fat. It couldn’t possibly taste good.” Well, I haven’t mentioned the best part of the book: it has over 250 recipes, all low in fat or even fat free, made by gourmet chefs. I tried a couple of them last week, and was very pleased. Even my husband liked them! They come up with creative ways to cut the fat without sacrificing flavor. For instance, instead of sautéing onions in oil (which helps seal in the flavor), they use a little vegetable stock. This gives more flavor without the fat. It’s likely on one would even realize that the dishes are fat free “diet food” unless someone mentioned it. They are colorful and delicious. I am looking forward to trying a number of them.

I will say there are things in the book I do not agree with. Things like grazing (eating a little all day long) and meditating (eastern style). But those things don’t detract from the overall message of the book.

There is a lot more in the book, but I’m not going to rewrite the it! You should go and find yourself a copy—even if you just borrow it from the library to read it. But let me tell you, those 250 recipes it contains are worth much more than whatever the price tag might be, so I highly recommend you buy it for yourself!

You can get a copy of the book here: