Magical Green Sauce


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This is pretty magical sauce.  I’ve been spreading it on most things that I’ve eaten for the past three days.  It’s so bright and flavourful that it really wakes up your meal!

It has cilantro in it.  I know, I know….a lot of you have a hateful relationship with cilantro.  I, in fact, just had a heated debate with a co-worker about the culinary usefulness of cilantro the other day.  I realize that if you are on the anti-cilantro train, it’s hard to convince you otherwise!  But seriously this sauce wasn’t overwhelmingly “cilantro-y” at all.  In fact it just tastes green and has a nice acidic flavour to it.  If you’re on the fence about cilantro, give this a whirl, you may be surprised.

In my local food box the other day I happened to end up with two big bunches of organic cilantro.  What to do with it?  Well I ended up freezing a bunch of it in ice cube trays with a bit of water….but the rest of it I used in making this sauce.  Now I wish I hadn’t froze it, then I could make MORE sauce!

I’ve been slathering it on my salads and veggie patties.  The original recipe I based this off was for it to top a Southwestern Chopped Salad from The Garden Grazer.  Looked tasty!

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Ingredients:

1 cup of cilantro leaves, washed, steams removed

Juice of 1/2 lime or about 2 tbsp (more to taste)

1/2 cup of soaked cashews + 2 tbsp water OR 1/2 avocado

1/4 cup olive or grape seed oil

2 tbsp maple syrup or honey

1 tbsp white or red wine vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Add ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

2. Taste and adjust ingredients to suit your taste.

Use as salad dressing, on sandwiches, burgers or sauce.

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A view of celiac disease with rose coloured glasses. Happy celiac awareness month!

A view of celiac disease with rose coloured glasses. Happy Celiac Awareness Month!

Since the end of April marks two years since my husband’s diagnosis with celiac disease, and we’ve been reflecting on that a lot lately, I figured a blog post was in order.  Some days it can be easy to fall into self-pity thoughts but actually all of our reflections lately have been positive ones! So here is a my view from two years into it…with rose coloured glasses!

This is what I would have said to ourselves back then, with a new diagnosis of celiac disease…

Two years

You have no idea how much better you will feel.  Seriously. You will notice some immediate changes within a couple weeks but many other symptoms are going to take longer.  Some take well over a year to improve.  Be patient, your body will heal itself, become stronger and change for the better.

There is a lifestyle treatment that is actually effective!  Your gut healing is completely within your control instead of having to rely on medications, doctors or interventions. Be thankful it’s something you can do something about…considering all the other diseases out there.

Mental health issues are a huge symptom of untreated celiac disease.  Depression, anxiety, irritability, sleep patterns, concentration and mental clarity can and likely will improve!  But again, it does take time.

You’re going to find improvement in symptoms you didn’t think were related to glutenNight time leg cramps?  Acid reflux?

You are not going to miss gluten.  Really.  As much as you think your life is not going to be the same with croissants, you will adapt to your new eating pattern in no time.  Plus considering how prevalent this way of eating is, you can find substitutes for many food products if you really miss something…like bagels or English muffins.  Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking they are healthy.

You’ll gain lots of new cooking and baking skills and try many different foods that you probably won’t have otherwise!  Millet, sorghum, amaranth?  Embrace it.

You are going to live your life with more intention.  You are going to eat more simply, be more organized and plan your meals better.  That means….less stress, more nutritious foods, less junk food or fast food.  Ultimately eating well = feeling well.

Having a disease really gives you a change of life perspective.  Life and health cannot be taken for granted.  Embrace life and all it has to offer!

Any drawbacks? 

I asked my husband if he regrets or misses anything since his diagnosis.  After thinking about it for a minute he said…

“Gluten free beer is expensive. And I miss perogies”.

(Good Ukrainian boy).

But the first thing he actually blurted out when I asked him that question?

“That didn’t get diagnosed SOONER!”

Happy celiac awareness month!

For more information on celiac disease please check out:

The Canadian Celiac Association

Shelley Case

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award

I am honored to be nominated for this fun and cute award by Bekah of A Vegan with a Plan (check her out here)! I enjoy scrolling through her fun and engaging recipes with a vegan flare!  Like….Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl Cheesecake {gluten free, vegan}….you had me a peanut butter fudge swirl.

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Here are the guidelines for The One Lovely Blog Award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you (mention your nominator in your own award post with a link back to their original award post).
    2. Share 7 things about yourself.
    3. Nominate 15 other bloggers and comment on their blogs (usually on their about page or contact directly if necessary) to let them know.

Here are 7 things about me…

1. I am a dietitian (of course) but I actually specialize in dysphagia management which means people that have trouble swallowing. It’s common issue in elderly people as they age (up to 60% in fact!).  It’s hard to be well nourished if you can’t swallow well.

2. I am not an athletic person (at all) but I do enjoy moving my body.  My favourite activities include hiking, jogging, yoga and biking around my neighbourhood.

3. Crocheting is one of my favourite hobbies to do!  My sister and I enjoy making stuffed animals called amigrumi for our family and friends with babies!  Cows, foxes, whales, dolls….so much crocheting to do but so little time!  This is one Tabitha actually just made!

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4. My favourite foods include peanut butter, cheese, fresh BC fruit and chocolate.

5. I suck as social media.  Facebook I can handle…but twitter?  No idea.  #idontdohashtags  And if someone can tell me how to make a hyperlink instead of linking to something with the http://www part….I’d feel like a more tech savy person. UPDATE!  Thanks to my Dad for showing me how to do that!  *Fist pump*

6. I wish I enjoyed green vegetables more.  There.  I said it.

7. I love to travel!  My favourite places tend to be full of raw untamed nature without a huge amount of people or crowds.  Iceland, New Zealand and the Cook Islands have been my highlights so far.

Here are the blogs that I would like to nominate for this fun award. Check them out, they are all fantastic!

Jessica of Smart Nutrition

Susan of A Little Nutrition

Abbey’s Kitchen

Nsharda of Carrots and Cake

Marianne of French Fries to Flax Seeds

Kellie’s Food to Glow

Lyndsay of Officially Gluten Free

Tabitha’s Gluten Free Dishes

Bianca and Sara of The Friendly Fig

Emma of She Can’t Eat What?

Kristine of Thank Heavens

Gluten Free Jess

Nicole Osinga

Book Review: Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook

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Photo Credit: Robert Rose Inc

We are thrilled and excited to be completing our first cookbook review!  It is a big mile stone for us here on our blog.  What better way to start things off than with a book that sets my (Amy’s) heart a flutter….Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook: 281 delicious whole grain recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury.

Considering my reality of having a husband with celiac disease and personally feeling significant symptom improvement when eating gluten free, I was quite curious to read this book!  My first impression was excitement when I realized that this was EXACTLY what I was looking for – a gluten free cookbook that actually uses whole grain flours! I didn’t know that was possible!!!

If you are in the world of gluten free living, you know the realities of what a “typical” gluten free muffin looks like.

If you are not in that world, allow me to enlighten you.  A gluten free muffin traditionally consists of a lot of rice based flours (most of which is white/processed), add a good bit of pure starch in there to lighten things up, lots of oil to make it palatable and then a dash of xanthan gum to help it all stick together (what is xanthan gum made of anyway?)  The result?  You get a “muffin-like” product that tastes a little funky, it turns stale within a day and is nutritionally questionable considering the amount of refined flours that go into it.  I’ve been attempting to experiment with using more whole grains but I get frustrated and discouraged when my recipes fail!  Those specialty flours are expensive!

IMG_0219Rice based gluten free muffin – Photo and recipe credit deliciousdietitianduo

Lunches and suppers in a typical gluten free world?  It’s usually a whole lot of rice based bread, steamed brown rice, rice based pasta, quinoa and potatoes.  Not so stimulating.

As a dietitian I believe in the importance of eating a VARIETY of foods, including grains, and focusing on foods as close to nature as possible.  The less we process food, the more nutritious they are for our bodies!

When I got this cookbook in the mail I immediate cracked it open to the baking section.  Every recipe I saw got me more and more excited….these recipe all are made primarily with whole grain flours (xanthan gum isn’t even mentioned)!  The cooking sections are equally interesting featuring twists on common recipes and ethnic dishes.  A variety of flours and grains are used to make “normal” everyday recipes into nourishing food for those needing a gluten free diet!  Honestly, these recipes are even so appealing that someone able to eat wheat would be intrigued to diversity their cooking and baking.  Simple, nourishing and easy – it truly is an everyday cookbook.

color (4)Banana Quinoa Muffins – Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook, photo credit – Deliciousdietitianduo

The cookbook also features a fantastic reference section at the beginning of the book which offers historical background, characteristics, storage and cooking methods of a variety of gluten free grains and seeds.  It is engaging and motivates the reader to courageously try different grains.

After this inspiration I made a serious shopping list, headed out to the local bulk foods store and bought myself $50 worth of different gluten free flours that I have always curiously eyed in the grocery store but never took the time to figure out how to use them.  Things like amaranth, millet, teff, quinoa and buckwheat flour.

color (2)Amaranth Apricot Bread – Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook

All of the recipes that I have tried so far have been a success.  These have included Banana Quinoa Muffins, Amaranth Apricot Bread and Ethiopian Injera. (Stay tuned for blog posts)  I love how the recipes seem to celebrate the individual characteristics and flavours of the grains instead of masking them or trying to make it taste like wheat.

Next up?  For breakfast: No-Cook Maple Buckwheat Porridge and Salted Caramel Banana Waffles. For lunch: Waldorf Steel-Cut Oats Salad and Wheat-Free Thins. For supper: Trinidadian Fish Stew with Millet and Quinoa Tortillas. For dessert: Teff Shortbread and Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Pie Crust.  Whoa!

Thanks Camilla Saulsbury, I’ve officially diversified the GF grain inventory in my pantry.  No longer will my amaranth, millet and steel cut oats sit idle.

Disclaimer – This cookbook was provided to me free of charge to review for the blog. All opinions and photos are my own. 

Is gluten free eating healthy for everyone?

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There’s gluten free this and gluten free that in the grocery store….cookies, breads, muffins, pasta, cereals, cakes….is it any better for you?

That’s a valid question that a lot of people wonder about.  Generally hot nutrition topics are met with a variety of emotions in the public ranging from fanatical advocates to those aggressively opposed…everywhere you look on the internet will tell you something different!

What do dietitians think?  We base our opinions on facts.  So let’s look at some!

1. First of all, some people legitimately NEED to avoid gluten because they have

a) celiac disease

b) wheat allergy

c) an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten

Gluten itself isn’t a bad thing for the rest of the population.

2.  What is exactly is gluten and how do they make something “gluten free”?

Gluten itself is a protein that is found in different grains including wheat, rye, triticale, barley and their derivatives (like barley malt flavouring, soy sauce, etc). When they make a gluten free product such as bread, they are substituting different gluten free grains for the typical wheat ingredients. Usually things like rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, etc.  More processed versions of these flours need to be used to make a palatable and less dense imitation baked product…making it less nutritious.

Also problematic is that conventional wheat flour is fortified with vitamins and minerals as a population health approach to prevent disease.  While some gluten free flours can be purchased fortified, mostly they are not.  Therefore I always encourage those eating gluten free to see foods like GF bread, pasta, cereal as a SUBSTITUTE not a STAPLE. They are a fantastic convenience to have around but should not make up a large part of the diet.

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3. There are a lot of naturally gluten free foods!  Everyone eats them and they are highly nutritious! These include vegetables, fruits, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, meat, milk and milk alternatives, quinoa and gluten free grains like whole grain rice, wild rice, millet and corn.

4. As dietitians we teach people to be intuitive eaters. Eat a greasy meal or a bunch of sugar and how do you feel? Probably pretty crappy. Some people eat gluten containing foods and feel crappy too. Why is this? Research is linking the types of carbohydrates in gluten containing foods (as well as certain fruits, vegetables, beans and milk products) with irritable bowel symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation and stomach pain.  Other body symptoms include a “foggy mind”, headache, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, leg or arm numbness, dermatitis (eczema or skin rash), depression, and anemia.  The reason for those symptoms is still a topic of debate but may have an inflammatory cause in some people.

I used to be a skeptical dietitian about how gluten could make you feel “bad” until my husband was diagnosed with celiac disease last year and we needed to cut gluten out of our household. I began to notice how much better my stomach was feeling, how much clearer my mind was and other symptoms that I didn’t even know I had started to improve!  It was such a dramatic change that I went to get screened for celiac disease (negatively)…and my symptoms have resolved since removing gluten from my diet again.  Therefore I fit the criteria for non-celiac gluten sensitivity. 

Meaning – if you have symptoms while eating gluten that resolve when you remove it from your diet AND you screen negative for celiac disease, it’s called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).    The symptoms are very similar however there is no intestinal damage or malabsorption in NCGS as seen with celiac.

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5. If you cut out gluten and start to feel better, get tested. I really can’t over emphasize the importance of getting screened for celiac disease if you notice an improvement in your symptoms on a gluten free diet.  The catch with the testing is that you have to be EATING GLUTEN (a significant amount, equivalent of ~4 slices of bread everyday, for 4-6 weeks) in order to have a positive test result if you have celiac disease.

Being properly screen for and/or diagnosed with celiac disease is important because…

a) It ensures your symptoms are not another medical condition (like inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, allergy or another autoimmune disorder)

b) You get the appropriate follow-up from a gastroenterologist (ensures your nutritional markers, liver enzymes, other blood levels and bone density is normal)

c) Makes you take gluten free eating very seriously.  It makes the difference between avoiding gluten MOST of the time and being as careful as you need to be with cross contamination at home and eating out.  There is no treatment (at this time) for celiac disease other than strictly avoiding gluten for the rest of your life.

d) Minimizes risk of celiac disease complications such as osteoporosis, small bowel cancer and other autoimmune diseases if you are strictly following the diet

e) To make sure you family members get screened!  There is up to a 20% chance a first degree relative also has celiac disease!

f) You get a tax break! (In Canada)

 

Bottom line? Gluten free processed foods, like bread and cake, aren’t any healthier for you than conventional ones unless you need to eliminate gluten from your diet.  If you think you have a gluten issue….talk to your doctor about getting tested! 

 

Amy

Dairy Free Parmesan “Cheese”

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Oh…it’s exists alright!  And you can zip it up in about 1 minute in your food processor!

Ever heard of nutritional yeast?  Yah I know.  I thought the same thing when I first heard the name…sounds odd.  It’s one of those foods that you kind of have to “sneak up on”.  It’s actually quite a popular food product among those eating a vegan diet because it’s a good source of B-vitamins as well as fortified with vitamin B12 (which is only found naturally in animal products).  B12 is important for keeping your blood healthy and strong!  It ensures you have synthesized enough red blood cells to give your body oxygen for it to do it’s thang!

Science lesson aside….what do you DO with it?  First of all, look for it at a health food store or bulk store.  It’s often used as a cheese substitute, often as an ingredient in a recipe to give it a rich and “cheesy” flavour.  It can also be sprinkled over popcorn, melted on top of a savoury dish like pasta, or be used to make some dairy free parmesan cheese!  Great for those with a milk allergy or intolerance.

Ingredients:

– 1 cup raw cashews

– 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

– 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. Blend ingredients together in a food processor until powdery like parmesan cheese.

2. Sprinkle as you would use parmesan!

Note this will not “melt” like it normal parmesan would but still gives a nice flavour 🙂  Enjoy!

Green Tomato Relish

Tabitha: right now we are harvesting our greenhouse plot at the Inuvik Greenhouse and sadly the season wasn’t long or hot enough to produce ripe red tomatoes. Fortunately I stumbled across this recipe for green tomato relish. It’s naturally sweet and has a nice kick from the jalapeños. If you want it less spicy, use less of the peppers. I like how this recipe uses no sugar!

The instructions in the blog post where I got this recipe describes how to make this beautifully. See her descriptions here: http://farmgirlfarerecipes.blogspot.ca/2011/09/farmgirl-susans-no-sugar-green-tomato.html

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Dairy-free sour cream (Vegan, raw)

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Photo credit: http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2014/03/how-to-make-mind-blowing-vegan-sour-cream/

Amy:

I fed this to my hubby and he looked at me with surprise in his eyes and said “wow…I’m actually impressed how close that is to real sour cream!”…and then polished off the entire batch.  It’s delicious, easy and you can make it in your own kitchen in about 5 minutes!

Based from: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/02/05/my-favourite-vegan-chili-with-homemade-sour-cream/

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashews (either raw or roasted and unsalted)

1/4 – 1/2 cup water (if you soak them, you’ll need less)

2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Dash of salt

Directions:

1. Ideally….soak the cashews in water for 4-12 hours in the fridge to soften them up.  Drain. I didn’t soak mine the first time I made this. It still tastes great but the texture won’t be totally smooth.

2. Add all ingredients into your food processor and blend until smooth.  Scrap down the sides a few times.  Adjust the water and lemon juice until it suits your preference!

Enjoy!