Thursday, November 22, 2018

Gluten free Vegan stuffing with Cranberries, Quinoa and Kale

Not your typical stuffing, this recipe was inspired by reading several other vegan recipes but ultimately governed by what we had in the cabinets and fridge, and both Craig and I were pleased with the result. 

If you've been reading my blogs you know I've been gluten free since 2008. I have been experimenting with gluten free beads and sampling bakers since then and am recently very pleased with The Gluten Free Explorer (found at Natural Grocers), and their breadcrumbs are in this recipe. But the quinoa is a nice touch, it gives it a fluffier result I think, and having both gives it balance.

The fruit is new for me but I like it! I love cranberries and how great to put them in stuffing! The apples stayed crisp and also add so much flavor. The celery and kale are a great combo, giving the color of this dish a spectacular look for the holidays! 

Let's get to it!
(All veg organic and chopped fine)

2 cups cooked tricolor quinoa
2 cups Gluten Free Explorer Breadcrumbs
1 red onion
1 bundle of celery, leaves included
1 cup chopped kale
1 bag cranberries
1 apple
1.5 cup veggie stock
Olive oil spray
Juice from half a lemon
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 T. Dried Rosemary
1 T. Dried Thyme
1/2 t. Salt

You can save prep time and cook the quinoa ahead of time - night prior is fine, store in fridge.

Preheat oven to 350° and spray an 11x14" pan.

Spray a large cooking pan and heat oil, add chopped garlic and onion and cook until translucent. Add celery and kale, along with rosemary and thyme, and cook 5 more minutes. Add veggie stock and simmer 3 more minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, mix quinoa, breadcrumbs, nuts, seeds and salt.


Add sauteed vegetables to mixing bowl, along with cranberries and finely cubed apple with skin. Stir until combined and pour into the baking dish.

Bake 30-40 minutes at 350°. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Gluten Free Sourdough bread adventure

Throughout my decade of being gluten free, I had never heard this before, but recently at a friends house, I heard a rumor that the gluten in bread breaks down in the process of fermentation with sourdough. The study that this rumor has seemingly sprouted from was done on just 15 subjects in Italy. I won't get into how the wheat in the US is far different from the wheat in Europe, but suffice it to say, it's not the same. 

At first, this rumor was exciting. Could I actually have bread again? I was sure willing to try! So I took a chunk of my friends long-aged sourdough starter, fed it for a few days (that's the fun part!), and made some sourdough bread!

Much to my dismay, the answer is no, I can not, but it sure was an exciting thought!

I've been GF long enough to know the immediate physical sensations when I'm going to have a reaction, and I don't press my luck. I had a small piece of this DELICIOUS bread and gave it away, knowing full well that if it stayed in my house, I'd break down and eat, and swell up like a balloon. It's not just the inflammation that bugs me, it's the pain that goes with it. So no, it's not worth it. But damn it was good!

Onward in trying to find a solution for GF sourdough!!  When I first went GF I did a lot of baking, and prior to going GF I LOVED to bake! But as everyone who's been on this adventure says, GF isn't the same. The GF breads are dense, full of eggs (which have their own unique uncomfortable reaction for me), and use multiple types of expensive flour and gum. Yuck. So it's been a while since a I've baked a loaf of white bread and I was up for a new experiment! 

But I'm a scientist at heart, and baking is a true science. And I like to research and tinker! So I started with two gluten free blends - a rice flour starter and a coconut flour "starter," along with a whole wheat flour blend to compare it to because I've never started a "starter" from scratch with a sourdough and I wanted to see what the rice and coconut flours did in comparison to the traditional whole wheat. I fed them day after day and by day 3 they all started smelling sour, the wheat and rice flour starters began bubbling, the coconut one not yet. 

Perhaps I should point out - the importance of sourdough is that the sour fermenting starter is meant to be used in place of instant active yeast. Yet the recipe my friend gave me and many of the recipes I've found online have both the starter and the active yeast. I wanted to find an old school solution with minimal ingredients and no yeast. 

So I got really excited when my search finally lead me to this post:

The writer has somehow squeaked out an older (since modified) recipe of a GF bread-slinger in SFO. I'm impressed - usually sought-after bakers don't give out their recipes. It does call for xanthan gum, but it doesn't call for yeast.  So I started here. 

My changes to her recipe:
sub oat for millet
1 cup water
.6 cup soy milk
used rice flour starter

It definitely didn't look like the first wheat test... it looks like concrete! It smells good though, is very tacky. and I can't quite get to "pancake batter consistency" as she states in the recipe. 

Unfortunately I couldn't get it to rise - I left it out overnight (24+hrs), even. So much to my chagrin, I added yeast, then set in oven for 2 hours at 170* to see if it would rise. Nope.  

I then baked it at 425 for 30, tested it, baked it 10 more, and it had tacky gooey center with a crusty outside and tastes really close to sourdough! I'd call this a first SUCCESS! 

I also want to say with all the discarding of starters I was pleased to find some solutions to avoid the waste. Such as sourdough pancakes and sourdough pizza.

I never got to making anything with the coconut flour - it didn't sour up, and after a couple weeks in the fridge, it spoiled (moldy brown water on the top). The Whole Wheat starter actually did the same, and had hairy mold in it as well. So moving forward, I'll be keeping the original King Arthur flour starter my friend gave me to make loaves for friends and events, and the Bob's Red Mill rice flour that seems to be holding up nicely, and I plan to try this loaf without the yeast next time since it didn't rise with it anyway! I will continue to add to this post as I tinker! 

GF Sourdough links 
As I said - I did my research... below are the links I read through to find the one I used. My web searching tip - drop below the first page return of search results. Sometimes the true gems are on page 3 (or further).  
Frankly, I should have started here - I looked at so many links I had to build this list just to keep my head straight around what I was going to try and what I'd looked at over 3 days of searching. Yes, I'm that kind of researcher. 😂

  The champions of baking provide a sourdough starter recipe with their ancient grain blend, but can't find a recipe for the bread to go with it. 

  This girls story is awesome. I may have to fly to San Francisco just to try it. Since it doesn't seem like I can order it online. And I hear SFO sourdough is as special as NY bagels. 

  OMG someone posted BreadSrsly's recipe?? (See above, that's what I started with.)

  Starter, boule, sandwhich and baguette recipes and short ingredient lists - great info on here, and you order the starter from them. 

  Definitely experts, they've got an ebook and sell starter kits, and thankfully this link starts out with the recipe at the top. But a few questionable items on the ingredient list for me. 

  Without the xanthan gum, cream of tartar and sugar, this would be a regular sourdough recipe. I'm not into either of those ingredients, but the bread looks fluffy enough. 

  Boule and simple ingredients (no eggs), but she uses xanthan gum as well and the recipe is a NOVEL. Granted, Sourdough needs explanation, but I wanted to try this because the bread looks amazing but couldn't bring myself to read the whole thing. 

  Egg free also, but uses xanthan gum, and yeast a little more complicated on ingredients.

  Eggs, sugar

   6 eggs, arrowroot powder

  3 flours, 2 starches, sugar, and psyllium husk. But GREAT photos and it looks like a really good bread. May have to try despite the lengthy and questionable ingredient list. (I wasn't familiar with psyllium, can't find it in my store, and upon further research, it's a laxative. No thanks.)

  This one fooled me because the title mentions coconut - it's not GF unfortunately, and has some very complicated ingredients. 

  Self appointed bread geek. A woman after my own heart. Love her lengthy intro even. This girl has done her homework. But sadly, her recipe is secured in a book I need to buy... 

  ...OR do I? Just when I think I've found someone that hacked the expert I keep reading and no, she just posts her photo and success. Fooled again. But she does include a GREAT sourdough pancake recipe! 

  This is a great coconut flour starter recipe but then no sourdough bread recipe to follow. 

  This is exactly what I'm talking about when I mention sifting through ads and banners and junk and text and more text and no bread recipe.  

  This one looks like a great recipe, the pictures show a very light fluffy looking bread

Author's note: 
One thing this journey of finding the perfect GF SD recipe showed me was that there are hundreds of earnest women out there making a living on blogging. It's impressive, and inspiring, and much appreciated. And I'm sure it's rewarding, but it leads me to want to ask them if it's sustainable, financially supportive, and something they want to do forever. Craig and I spent 4 years attempting to make a living at writing travel guides for people with disabilities and its was none of those things - sustainable, financially supportive, and long term. Neither was the non profit work we did for 7 years after that. Nor the photography work I did. 

So I'm so grateful that we've finally found our "tribe" and aligned with a company that does the work for us when it comes to recipe books and coaching - and all we need to do is share our story and talk about health. If you are looking for a residual income that pays you even when you're not working, check out The Freedom Revolution and join our mission of inspiring healthy living around the world. Our team is always seeking health minded women who want to inspire. Reach out

Friday, August 31, 2018

Cat's Claw for... everything health!

I have been amateurely studying the benefits of herbs on health for over 25 years now and I've recently been adding Cats Claw into my regime, along with what I always and forever will take - whole food concentrates & plant based protein (Juice Plus- non negotiable). In addition to that I rotate in a few things for my thyroid, inflammation, and gut health (selenium, magnesium, D, homeopathy, CBD) and in recent months, thanks to what I've been reading from The Medical Medium, Cats Claw is one of them.

I've really noticed my body craves it now, if I skip it, I feel my physical being seeking it out. I travel a lot, more so this month, and I think that's why- it's extra immune support, which we need when we are on the road even more.
This infographic from Dr. Axe sums it all up perfectly. Learn more here.

I'm a firm believer that plants heal, and this her specifically is one of the ancient ones, used in Peru since the early days of herbal healing.

If you are clearing out heavy metals, flushing toxins, healing your gut, reducing inflammation, or just wanting to try something other than echinacea for immune support give Cats Claw a whirl! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Living clean and pure

Recently I went to an educational talk with Dr. Tamara Sachs, a long time general practitioner who is very passionate about living healthy, and a National Marketing Director with the Juice Plus Company.  Her talk was "Living on a Toxic Planet," and while it's depressing to think that we are indeed surrounded by toxins, her talk reminded me that the way I've been living, and the choices I make, mostly keep my body safe from those toxins.  From choosing to live in the mountains of Colorado twenty years ago, to reading every label of every item I buy, it may take a little more effort, but the way my body feels and the longevity that results from living a pure clean life is worth it.

For nearly three decades I have been very proactive about what I put in and on by body; lotions, hair products, household cleaners, and food - all of the labels of the items I buy, I read. If you're curious as to why, read my article on Read the Label. It's important to be sure of what you're using, and my general rule is that if it doesn't come from plants, I don't use it. Furthermore, if I can't pronounce it, I find out what it is, and if it doesn't come from plants, I use it. I make my own skin-healing salve, our floor cleaner, and fabric softener. One of my core values is that plants heal, and I have countless personal testimonials of how plants have healed my body inside and out, so I have dedicated my life to educating others on this both formally and individually. This is one of the core reasons I joined the Juice Plus company in 2014. Our bodies need more plants, and our systems know exactly what to do with plants. It was a match made in heaven.

So when Dr. Sachs shared her website with us, I thought it was important to share. Her Detox Fact Sheet is so comprehensive, and I love having it on hand now to share with people.

If you think your body is suffering - whether it's with pain or immune function - check out Dr. Sachs' list and start making some changes one by one. Your body will thank you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Eating healthy while on the road

Traveling gives me such joy- to be out exploring the world and it's many cultures, people, vistas- makes my heart sing. But as someone who has struggled for over a decade with food sensitivities, weight fluctuation due to a thyroid condition, and committed to eating a healthy, plant-based diet, traveling can indeed be a challenge.

Whether there is a language barrier or not, often what I'm looking for simply isn't on the menu - vine ripe, organic, plant-based food.

So if you're new to this way of life and type of eating, you may say "oh screw it," when you're on the road.  But if you're wise to why you're eating this way - for mind, body and spirit - then you may notice that you're more tired, touchy, emotional, sore, restless, and overall just not yourself. Or you may even suffer from physical symptoms, which are perhaps the root of why you're eating this way (IBS, gas, bloating, pain, inflammation, etc.)

The day that I shifted my thinking from deprivation, ("I can't eat that because..." and feeling deprived of the joys of life) to optimization and the value of high vibration eating and living, things shifted for me. I was ok with asking a lot of questions - versus being embarrassed or feeling like I was putting people out, I was ok with educating the person in front of me - afterall, they're in the service industry, and they want to serve (well, most of them), and I was ok with committing to what serves my body well.

Over the last ten years I've both succeeded and failed at eating healthy on the road, and here are some of my tricks to staying committed to my health while traveling:

1. Juice Plus
This may sound like a plug, but it's not. The day I committed to making this product part of my life forever is a groundbreaking decision for me. For a nearly decade I had struggled with food intolerances, auto-immune symptoms, and general mal-nutrition, and those have all but disappeared after 4 years on this product. Now when I travel, I take extra, and take comfort in knowing I'm getting the nutrients from the equivalent of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in my system every day. I don't get sick while I travel because my immune system is supported, and I don't worry if I don't get all of the fruits and vegetables I know I need each day. Also, if I do have a flare up of inflammation, the Juice Plus Complete powder and an extra dose of the Juice Plus capsules help reduce that almost immediately.

2. Healthy Snacks
Because a plant-based diet doesn't burns off quickly, I always have snacks for between meals. Whether that's nuts, a healthy bar, fruit, or Juice Plus Complete powder, I'm always prepared so I don't get too hungry, hypo-glycemic, fatigued or dizzy, or eat the wrong thing because I'm not focused as a result.

3. Ask questions
Don't be afraid to ask. I was truly shocked to find out that nearly everywhere we went in Ireland - small pubs and cafes included - had gluten free bread. I honestly wouldn't have even asked I don't think, but someone told us early on that it was a staple there now, I asked every time and was pleasantly surprised. As well as finding out what you need to know, I've found that the more you ask, the more the world changes a little for the better - supply and demand. If alternatives to dairy and gluten are needed for more and more people (IE nearly 20% of Italy is now gluten intolerant), the more they will be provided.

4. Stay committed 
If you've made a decision to eat healthy, then honor that. You're doing so for your health, your longevity, or another really good reason, and compromising that for laziness or embarrassment isn't worth it.
   a. Educate the people you're with right away. Let them know your dietary restrictions and needs and let them help you stay accountable to that. I know for me, when someone else is helping me stay on track, I have a much better success rate. So welcome the help. You deserve it.
   b. Don't waiver. For me, when I start going down the road of cheating on my commitments, it's a slippery slope. I have a lot of dietary requirements - no gluten, no dairy, no alcohol, no sugar, no meat - and it can be overwhelming and frustrating at times to stick to all of that. But the pain I feel as a result isn't worth it, and shifting my mindset to "Food Heals," and "Feed the Body what it needs, not what the brain thinks it wants," helps me stay on track. So long as I don't feel like I'm depriving myself by not having soda and doughnuts (and yes, I used to feel that way), and I remind myself that those kinds of foods bring disease and discomfort, I don't crave them.

5. Come prepared 
Know the region that you're traveling to in advance. Know what staples are there for you that you can ask for. Do the research ahead of time - whether it's just the next state over or half way around the world, prepare. We are so lucky that we have the technology to do this kind of pre-travel homework these days, and while we may not feel like we have the time to, make the time to. You'll thank yourself later. Read up on local blogs and reviews, research local chefs with the same healthy mindset, and ask the locals when you get there. We are currently in Trinidad and Tobago, and the locals are really friendly, the local food is really good! I'm pleasantly surprised to find that I am feeling so good and finding it really easy to eat healthy.

I hope this helps you stay on track! You've got this!

Stay well. You deserve to feel good, and eat better!