It's cabinetry installation day at my #foodstudio - my heart is pounding http://t.co/TiXQLYT0df
Despite what people might think, eating a gluten free diet is not limiting at all. In fact you can get more variety eating a gluten free diet than most people do eating their average diet. When people don’t have any limitations, it is ironic, but that is when people tend to eat the same thing day in and day out. When one is restricted to a specific diet either for health reasons (allergies, intolerance’s, sensitivities or digestive problems) – it forces you to become more creative and add more variety to your everyday eating.
On Wednesday night at my “Gourmet and Gluten Free” cooking class, my participants learned just that. By incorporating gluten free foods in your diet you can have more variety, colour and balance then you ever would have dreamed. For example we made these delicious “Everything Cookies” (recipe below) that had just about everything in them – except for gluten! Based on the response – these cookies tasted better than anything they had ever expected. Also included in the menu was a creamy carrot ginger apple soup, a quinoa pilaf salad with cashews and cherries, a tofu vegetable stir fry with buckwheat soba noodles, black bean and yam burgers, a pesto sauce on brown rice penne pasta and guacamole with blue corn chips. As you can see, there is no lack of flavour, variety, colour and texture in this menu. Gluten free grains are also extremely high in protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals and best of all they don’t make you bloated! You don’t have to be intolerant to gluten to have this variety in your diet – just be creative and have fun.
A word on Gluten:
Gluten is the protein in wheat that many people nowadays have difficulty digesting. If someone is gluten intolerant, they are likely to have Celiac Disease. This can be an extremely severe situation for some people as everyday digestion is compromised causing inflammation of the small intestine.
People who suffer from Celiac Disease need to stick to a gluten free diet indefinitely.
If someone is just simply sensitive to gluten containing foods it is important to stick to gluten free foods as much as possible to keep the gut lining nourished and soothed.
Examples of Gluten Free Grains:
Grains & Grain Products
GF Grains: amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn (cornmeal, corn grits), fava, flaxseed, garbanzo bean (chickpea, besan, gram or channa), hominy, hominy grits, kasha (toasted buckwheat), millet, pure uncontaminated oats, quinoa, rice, sago, tapioca
GF flours: bean flours (garbanzo, fava, romano), pure buckwheat flour, buckwheat bran, cornstarch, cornmeal, corn bran, garfava flour (garbanzo + fava bean flours), mesquite flour, quinoa flour, montina flour (made from Indian rice grass), nut flours and nut meals, pea flour, potato flour, potato starch, rice flour (white and brown), sorghum flour, soy (soya) flour, teff (or tef) flour
Breads and baked goods made with GF grains and free of other gluten-containing ingredients
Pastas made from rice, beans, corn, potato, quinoa, soy, wild rice and other GF grains
Cold cereals: puffed corn, amaranth, buckwheat, millet or rice, rice flakes and soy cereals
Hot cereals: hominy grits, soy grits, cream of buckwheat, cream of rice, puffed amaranth, rice flakes, quinoa flakes, soy flakes
Rice: brown, white, basmati, jasmine or wild rice
Grains: buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice, corn, quinoa
Corn or rice tortillas
Everything (but gluten) Cookies
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. almond butter
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup quinoa flakes
¼ cup puffed amaranth
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup currents
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, honey, vanilla, almond butter and tahini.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour wet mixture over dry and stir to blend well.
4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared bake sheets.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Cookies will firm up as they cool.
Makes 20-24 cookies.
Start off the year right. You owe it to yourself to nourish your body with fresh delicious food and your mind with the satisfaction that you can make the choice to be the best YOU this year. Make the right choices now, or else January will pass by to quickly. Then in February… well no one feels like starting anything new in February. Then March comes and you tell yourself you may as well wait until the spring or summer to start eating right or getting in shape or going on a cleanse. Well I am telling you that if you start right now, by the summertime you will already be looking and feeling great!
So the key is to get yourself motivated today. Start up a new exercise program and fill your kitchen full of healthy choices. You may even want to take a COOKING CLASS (see side column for details) or two, get yourself loaded with health supportive and tasty recipes to get you on your way – just email me if that is your plan!
I am also offering a WHOLE FOOD MAKEOVER WORKSHOP series starting next week that should definitely get you on your path to good health and well being. Sometimes you just need a little push in the right direction to get you on your way.
But if you are the type that just wants to do it yourself, then let me at least give you a few tips to get 2009 to YOUR best and most nourishing year ever!
1. Choose fresh and whole foods everyday
2. Choose organic and bio-dynamic foods as often as possible
3. Choose food that is fresh, local and seasonal
4. Choose foods that are colourful, vibrant and that vary in texture, flavour and shapes (this is great for kids too!)
5. Experiment cooking with different grains, legumes, vegetables and spices for variety
6. Limit your consumption of fried, processed, packaged and sugar laden foods
7. Limit your consumption of commercial meat and dairy (instead select naturally raised or organic whenever possible)
8. Start up a new exercise program, even if that means taking a walk around your block!
9. Find alternative methods for relaxation, healing and rejuvenation (massage therapy, aroma therapy, acupuncture, tai chi, yoga and pilates).
10. Have Fun!
Quinoa with Porcini Mushrooms and Dried Cranberries
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 ounce (3/4 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup minced red onion
1 garlic clove
1 stalk celery
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup dried cranberries or currents
½ toasted pinenuts or pecans
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley or thyme
1. Rinse quinoa and place in large pot and dry toast on a low heat for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil with salt. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Combine 1 cup of water with porcini mushrooms in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushrooms soak for 20 minutes. Then drain the mushrooms, reserving the mushrooms and the liquid separately. Roughly chop the mushrooms.
3. Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes. At the last minute add the spinach.
4. Add the reserved mushrooms, the garlic, and the cranberries and sauté until the cranberries are heated through about 2 minutes.
5. Add the pinenuts, quinoa, salt and black pepper to taste, and the mushroom soaking liquid. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve hot.
Balance really is everything when it comes to your blood sugar levels. It is extremely important to make sure you moderate and regulate your sugar intake everyday. As participants learned in tonight’s Sweet and Low Cooking Class, whether you have diabetes, hypoglycemia or just want to stay within a normal range and avoid cravings, it is vital to learn which foods will do the job and keep you in balance!
Here is a quick resource of some daily things you can be doing to keep your levels in check while creating overall, balanced and healthy eating habits!
Tips for Regulating your Blood Sugar Levels on Daily Basis Naturally
Always eat a balanced breakfast, everyday!
Do not go more than 2 hours without food or consume large heavy meals. Eat six to eight small meals throughout the day. Even eating a small snack before bed might help.
Eat a diet high in fiber (whole grains, legumes) and include large amounts of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, squash, spinach and green beans and whole fresh fruits.
Consume beans, brown rice, oats, oat bran, lentils, sweet potatoes, tofu and fruits such as apples, apricots, avocados, banana, lemons.
For protein eat white fish or wild salmon, turkey, lean chicken breast, eggs and goats and sheep’s milk cheeses or sheep’s milk yogurt.
Use natural low glycemic sweeteners such as: brown rice syrup, barley malt, agave nectar, dates, stevia* and maple syrup (in moderation)
Stay away from high fatty foods and fried foods and choose healthy fats and oils instead: (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil or other cold pressed natural oils, raw nuts and seeds)
Remove alcohol, processed foods, sulphured dried fruits, table salt, white sugar, saturated fats, soft drinks and white flour. Also avoid food with artificial colours and preservatives.
Special foods with special properties for blood sugar:
Avocado: contains a sugar that depresses insulin production, which make them an excellent chose for people with hypoglycemia.
Cinnamon: has a lowering affect on blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of insulin secreted. Consume at least 1 teaspoon everyday!
Brewer’s Yeast: (1 Tbsp. twice daily) provides a rich source of the mineral, chromium, which has a glucose tolerance normalizing effect.
Soybeans and other legumes: (1 cup or more daily) Kidney beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and lima beans retard the rate of absorption of carbohydrate into the blood stream.
Onions and garlic: (1/2 a clove twice daily) normalize blood sugar regulation by decreasing the rate of insulin elimination by the liver.
Other blood sugar controlling foods include: berries (especially blueberries), celery, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, sprouts, string beans, parsley, garlic, onions, psyllium, flaxseed, lemons, oat bran, radishes, sauerkraut, sunflower seeds, squash, watercress.
I really do love to cook – but I love teaching people how to cook even more!
My new series of cooking classes have started off great!
A wonderful group of five lively and lovely ladies joined me for a wonderful evening of delicious summer recipes.
Everyone was greeted with a fresh glass of ginger-goji berry lemonade and then sat down to watch a demo of a creamy guacomole being prepared with fresh green garden peas, to be dipped in by organic blue corn chips. This is a delicious and nutritious twist to a traditional guacamole recipe. The peas add some depth, flavour and some good quality protein as well! The bowl was empty within seconds.
We then got into a discussion of the natural and fresh ingredients that were going to be used in the class. Everyone had questions to be answered.
Most questions were stemmed around what the difference is between some conventional ingredients such as soy sauce and sugar and what the natural alternatives were that we would be using in this class.
So I did my fair share of explaining that Tamari is a naturally fermented source of Soy Sauce that does not contain any wheat or additives. The sources of sugar we used in the class were either brown rice syrup, maple syrup or agave nectar, which are all from natural plant or food sources. Which means they contain some vitamins and minerals that would not be found in traditional white sugar. It was also pertinent to mention that brown rice syrup and agave nectar do not spike blood sugar levels as rapidly as processed sugar does.
It is always so great and rewarding to educate people on basic things that they can take home and bring into thier own cooking and daily eating. There are so many questions around food, and I am always more than happy to bridge this gap, and make clear what is confusing.
So the evening carried on with everyone making one of the many recipes that were to be prepared in the class. Everyone got to choose between making either: Tangy Thai Lettuce Wraps, Apple-Fennel salad with a Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette, Quinoa Tabule, Green Beans with Hazelnuts, White Bean Dip with Dill, Citrus Tempeh Skewers or Creamy Lemon Tarts. A tough decision to make, I know!
But everyone chose the recipe that made them eager and excited to prepare .
The recipes turned out fantastic and everyone learned a new technique or two to make things easier for them in the kitchen, whethter it was how slice fennel on a mandoline, processing quick dressings in a blender or vitamix or blanching broccoli to get crisp and tender floret, everyone got something helpful and useful out of the class.
Then after two hours of fun in the kitchen, we all sat down to enjoy the wonderful sampling of all the recipes together, plus there was plenty of leftovers to take home!
After such a great experience, I am really looking forward to my next upcoming summer classes and I hope you can make it to one of them!