How Sugar-Strict Should You Be?

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about her ‘crazy’ sister-in-law who won’t let her kids (or the visiting kids) have a soda.  My colleague thought this was a little over the top and that there was nothing wrong with having a soda now and then.  While I confess that I have on occasion let my son have a soda, usually at a birthday party or other celebration hosted by others, I did have an answer for her and came to the defense of the unseen crazy sister-in-law (takes one to know one, right?).

The Sister-in-law’s defense your honor is a matter of the bar.  Not the legal bar exam to become a lawyer, but the bar which is a standard or expectation to which we, or the foods we put in our mouths, all must rise.  When someone raises the bar then they are increasing the expectations.

 

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When someone drinks a soda their expectations for what is considered sweet just got thrown at the ceiling. Splat!  Will it fall on someone’s head like a wet wad of toilet paper from the school bathroom ceiling?  Yes.  It will fall on the heads of parents everywhere who are trying to keep reduce the amount of sugar their kids consume…. and perhaps struggling with their own sugar consumption as well.

Consider this – most people would agree that fruit is sweet.  Kids even like it, or they used to.  I am amazed by how many kids come over to ‘hang out’ (my son is now too old to play) who refuse a piece of fruit.  They don’t like fruit.  Now, surely there are people with fruit preferences and allergies or a particular fruit that just doesn’t a-peel (harhar)….. but I have to stop myself from saying, “What do you mean you don’t like fruit?  What’s not to like about fruit?  What DO you like?”

Candy, soda, sugar – then throw in some chips
Gimme candy, soda, sugar – right past my numbed out lips

When you drink a can of soda that has
39 g (about 10 tsp) of sugar in a 12 ounce can of cola;
23 g (almost 6 tsp) in an 8 ounce serving of minute maid orange juice;
the 23g in an 8 ounce serving of snapple lemon iced tea;
the 33g (over 8 tsp) in a 20 ounce bottle of vitaminwater….. isn’t that supposed to taste kind of like water?

Then don’t you think the following will seem a little less than sweet to your palate?:
9 g of sugar (about 2 tsp) in a serving of pineapple;
7 g (less than 2 tsp)in aserving of strawberries
17g (a bit more than 4 tsp) in 1 large banana
11g (almost 3 tsp) in a cup of apple slices

With or without scientific evidence, we all know that comparisons affect what we eat.  You get used to Starbuck’s coffee and then some other coffees start to taste a bit weak.  You eat lots of salty chips and you will probably find yourself reaching for the salt shaker more often when eating potatoes or eggs or other bland salt vehicles.  It’s the old Ka-Pow theory of the Sis Sisters – as we increase the amount of sugar (or salt for that matter) we feel constitutes the description ‘sweet’, a little less just doesn’t register as sweet anymore.  And sweet is oh so powerful….. it attracts more flies than vinegar after all and it is what little girls are made of along with spice and everything nice.  Or perhaps big girls like sweets so much because we never felt as sweet as we were supposed to be….. okay, I’m coming back, that’s another post entirely.

Back to kids and sugar.  By the time most kids finish the load of candy in their Easter basket there will be some other occasion to inundate them with candy.  In fact they’ll probably be given some at school next week, or at a meeting or gathering of some sort – along with some soda or juice to drink… or water with flavor (chemical crap) in it.  Is it any wonder that they are not interested in fruit?

So how strict should you be with your kid about sugar?  It’s a heck of an uphill battle, but preserving their ability to taste the sweetness in real food will shape what they choose to eat.  Sometimes you just have to draw the line somewhere…. I definitely draw the line at soda.  I do not provide soda for my son and his friends.  Perhaps someday he will go hog wild and drink a bunch of soda…. but he will know just how horrifically, un-naturally sweet it is, and hopefully the rebellion won’t last so long as to re-set his sugar bar.  Unfortunately it doesn’t take much of a miss to bump that pole up a little higher!

Mind you – we are all about Baby Steps even when it comes to kids and sugar – and perhaps especially when it comes to kids and sugar.  Work it down and work it out a bit at a time, hopefully with their agreement for lasting effects.

 

 

 

Fruit Glorious Fruit!

Was that the name of the musical or just one of the songs?  I don’t remember ;-)

At any rate we are coming up on yet another wonderful holiday which has been transformed from a celebration of renewal, life and goodness into yet another opportunity to stuff candy in all colors of the rainbow and all textures imaginable into our gullets.  Okay, that’s a little harsh, we will stuff other things into our gullets as well…. personally I’m hoping for some asparagus.

But can our children truly appreciate the deeper meanings of the day and the time with friends and family while glazed over with sugar inside and out?  Well maybe they can, but I certainly can’t and it makes me hyperventilate just thinking about it!  Whew.  Caught my breath, clearly it’s time to stop ranting and share something meaningful here.

Like fruit!  Fruit is meaningful and wonderful and full of life and juice (usually).  It grows on trees, bushes, canes, vines… and in baskets!  You’ve seen fruit baskets right?  Incredible how the different varieties can grow from the same basket.  And baskets fit in perfectly with Easter!  So am I suggesting that you give your children fruit baskets for Easter?  Ha!  Even I am not that much of a nave fool.  I am however going to suggest that you make a fruit dessert.  Why not?  And if you really wanted to, you could substitute some of the candy for interesting or exotic fruits in the basket and I wouldn’t tell a soul.

I found all manner of suggestions – all of which are fast and easy – with presenting fruit in a fancy dessert-like way.  I decided to find a way to make a dairy free fruit dip / cream that could be used with any fruit to make it fancier.  That recipe follows and then the list.  In addition, Little Sis has some creamy, dairy free fruit zipper-upper in her nectarine pie.  Check that one out as well!

Mine is sweet orange sunflower dip

1 cup raw sunflower seeds soaked for at least 6 hours in 2 cups of water
zest from 1/2 – 1 orange.  Zest is a little tart, so if you are wary, start with 1/2 and add more if you want
juice from 1 orange (was a bit less than 1/4 cup if you have juice in the frig)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in food processor and run it for a few minutes until well combined.  Scrape down the sides a few times to catch the errant seeds.

Serve with fruit.  My 13 year old enjoyed this and didn’t do his usual, can I have some dessert after eating it, so it did the trick!

 

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So here is a list of fancy sounding, delicious looking and easy fruit desserts that you might serve up on Easter, or on any day!  I am intrigued by the idea of just broiling some fruit (like pineapple or mango) and it’s ready to go.  You might put a little ice cream with it, but you might not, and if you did, at least there would be more fruit and less dessert on the plate, right?

Saucy & Sweet Grilled Pineapple:

Citrus Salad with Lemongrass Syrup

Easy Glazed Banana

Tropical Fruit Salad with Creamy Lime Sauce

Mixed Berry Salad with Mint

Citrus Infused Strawberries

Cocoa-Nut Bananas

Broiled Mango

Chocolate & Banana

Carmelized Bananas

Almond Cream with Strawberries

Enjoy and have a rejuvenating and wonderful celebration of the return of spring and the power of goodness and love.

 

Almost Spring Dried Fruit Cake (GF)

Soon you will have lots more fruit to choose from and you will not be interested in dried fruit (although mixed with nuts, seeds and low sugar cereal it is always a good snack)….. but perhaps you have quite a bit in your pantry and are hankering for a fruity baked  good while you wait for the new fruit to come in.  Well you can hanker less now.  You know, like a little less hankering a lot more baking?

My family LOVES this recipe which I shamelessly lifted and only slightly adapted from our good friend at Wuppenif….. She lives in a much colder clime and has a longer wait for summer fruit than we do.  It might cheer her up to know that we are all enjoying her delicious cake ;-)  You will enjoy her blog which includes GF cooking and baking with a woodstove and enjoying the great outdoors in Canada.

Wuppenif made this cake for Christmas, so you know it is special – and both of us make it GF.  I’m sure you could substitute whole wheat flour though if you are not so inclined….. or declined!

icing?  Who needs icing - moist and sweet with fruit, you don't need icing on this one.

icing? Who needs icing – moist and sweet with fruit, you don’t need icing on this one.

Dried Fruit Cake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups dried fruit (I used raisins, cherries, and cranberries – use whatever you have / works for your tribe!)
75 ml brandy (I used red wine)
Juice from one orange
Zest from one orange
25 ml lemon juice
Splash hot water (use your own judgement; the idea is to provide enough liquid for the fruit to swell nicely)
1 cup Bob’s red mill GF baking mix
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour/meal (mine is from making almond milk – may be a little different, could also use coconut flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp guar or xanthan gum
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp salt
7/8 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup nuts (she used slivered almonds, I used pecans in small bits)
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil (she used butter), melted
3 Tbsp molasses
1/4 cup water (I used almond)

Method

Preliminaries – preheat oven to 350 F
Assemble and soak the dried fruit in a bowl with the wine, zest, juice and water; allow to soak for a minimum of an hour, but the longer the better (I only managed about 45 minutes and it was fine)
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
Melt coconut oil / butter, mix with molasses and water or milk
Combine wet and dry mixtures and add in fruit and nuts for a final stir
Pour into greased cake tin (I prefer a bundt pan)

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Bake for approx. 40 – 50 min

 

Let cool for a bit and then enjoy!

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Wuppenif has prettier pictures as well….. so you might want to check them out.  Personally, I’m going to go make the real thing and gaze only briefly at it before eating :-)

May thoughts of spring and summer warm your thoughts while tasty leftovers of the winter season warm your belly.

 

Think Outside the Oil – lower fat salad dressings

What could be healthier than salad right?  All those crisp raw veggies!  Sunshine in a bowl.  Sunshine with some potato salad and macaroni salad drenched in mayo and shredded cheese and fat & chemical laden salad dressing…. ooops!  What happened to my nice healthy salad?  It’s still in there….. waiting to be rescued from the oil spill that is luckily not endangering any wildlife in your kitchen!

Easy enough to avoid the potato salad and macaroni salad and cheese, but what about the dressing?  Truly the solution to the chemical soup that passes for salad dressing in the grocery store is to make your own.  It can be very simple! (and there are links to a few we’ve already published below).  Little Sis likes avocado and a sprinkling of rice vinegar.  Mix around a little and the avocado flavorfully moisten all those nice crisp veggies.  The secret lies in the avocado which is full of healthy oily creaminess.

So try some easy homemade salad dressings that satisfy you and your salad without the oil spill.

Anything that can maintain a little thick and creamy can be used with some vinegar, and/or salt, and/or a little sweet and some oil if you like, to make salad dressing.  Today I made a dressing with leftover cooked sweet potato.  Sounds crazy I know, but cooked sweet potato (without the skin) is creamy and thick.

Balsamic Sweet Potato Dressing
1/2 cup sweet potato
1/4 tsp marjoram
2 – 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp oil
3 – 5 Tbsp water
1 tsp maple syrup

Combine all in blender or smoosh / stir / blend by hand.  This was a small batch because I wanted to try it first, so it is a little messy in the blender since there is so little of it, but if you like it, make a larger batch next time.   Try the smaller amount of ingredients first and then taste and add.  The water is there to thin, so add bit by bit to your desired dressing thickness, so again, start low and add as you see fit.

sweet potato dressing

Nice and thick.

I am going to try this again with no oil.  Why not?

Sorry, my picture of this dressing on the salad did not turn out and I had already eaten it.  I was hungry.

I am trying to adapt to my new ‘smart’ phone which is smarter than me.  I no longer look like a Luddite, but looks can be deceiving!

 

Homey Honey Mustard Dressing
1/2 c plain yogurt of your favorite type (I had some actual dairy and used it because Mr. Bigg Sis doesn’t like honey mustard)
1 Tbsp & 2 tsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp & 2 tsp dijon mustard (or try a different mustard!)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional but a nice tang – stronger flavor)
pinch of salt

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Mix all ingredients together.  Pour it on your salad ;-)

Other homemade salad dressing ideas…..
A few from me
A
nother from Little Sis
One from our buddy Annie at An Unrefined Vegan

Tasty Dairy-Free Pasta Toppers

Some of you are excited at the thought of a replacement for these things and some of you are probably wondering “What’s the problem with dairy?”  In our case, due to some intestinal problems, our MD thought that my husband should avoid all inflammatory foods, i.e. foods that cause inflammation, which include dairy.  For many people, myself included, dairy is difficult to digest leading to bloating, gas and pain.  And on top of that, dairy is very fattening.  In addition, some people are trying to reduce their animal fat intake because there are experts who say this is better for your heart and cancer prevention.  (Of course there are MANY opinions on health and wellness in regards to diet…. just some food for thought as you make choices for you and your family).

I suppose one could purchase vegan cheese products from the grocery store, but frankly they are expensive and I don’t like their ingredient lists much better than the ingredient lists of other processed cheeses and foods.  So Little Sis and I blend, borrow, steal and amend the ideas of others with our own to try and reclaim the wonderful taste and texture of added parmesan, mozzarella or ricotta.

I am very pleased with these 2 additions to the DF arsenal.  My son has never liked parmesan on his pasta (clearly there was a switch in the hospital, but other than this we like him and didn’t complain to the authorities), but my husband whose GI troubles led us to do away with the dastardly dairy, and I both always LOVED a little pasta with our parmesan.

So I offer you my version of DF parmesan (which is high in iron because of the presence of sesame seeds) and a ricotta-ish substance that can be used plain or with tomato sauce.  This one is an adaptation of Little Sis’ creamy orzo ‘nofredo’ sauce.  This deliciousness has the advantage of using pureed cauliflower, no really – it’s fabulous – and the more veggies, the better!

Moo-less, Flavor-full Parmesan sprinkles
-adapted from Angela Liddon’s vegan parmesan cheez

1/2 c sunflower seeds
3/4 c sesame seeds (I used raw rather than toasted)
1/4 c nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in blender
Blend until powdery – don’t go too long or the sunflower seeds will start to turn into sunflower butter!
Place on top of pasta….. or other things as well!  I think the sunflower seeds give it a heartier flavor and the ratio of the other ingredients in mine is a little different from Ms. Liddon’s – but check that out as well!  You might prefer it.

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Teat-free Ricotta.   Okay, that’s gross – Zippy Dairy Free Ricotta
- adapted from Little Sis’ Nofredo Orzo with Chickpeas and Kale

1 c walnuts
2 T olive oil
2 T nutritional yeast flakes (opt.)
1 – 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (I accidentally put in 2 rather than 1 and I really liked the zip – try one and see what you think)
1/4 c water
1 t salt
1.5  cup roasted cauliflower pieces
fresh ground pepper

Place all in the food processor and process.
This comes out thicker than the nofredo sauce and is more like a ricotta or cottage cheese.    If you want to make it thinner – add some water or non-dairy, unsweetened milk.

We mixed of this some plain with pasta but then I added a dollop to my pasta with a tomato sauce. …. LAAAAAA Sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!  It really knocked my socks off.  I think this begs to be put into some kind of layered lasagna type thing.  It was very tasty.

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Veggie-licious Snacks

It all comes to down to space right?  Although some stomachs are bigger than othesr, and I’m talking on the inside, not the outside… there is a limited amount of space in a stomach for food.   The more of that space you fill with vegetables, the less space there is for more objectionable, less nutritious items.  This is not to say that only vegetables are healthy, but you pretty much can’t do better.  And you KNOW it is much easier to fill in the holes for carbohydrates and protein, I doubt you’ll go too low in either category if you eat more vegetables.

Although the eat more veggies philosophy will serve anyone who wants to be healthier well, it becomes problematic in relation to ‘snacks’.  My son will come home from school inquiring about snack food and my list of fruits and vegetables / dips / bread with a healthy topping is followed by his question, “after that can I have a ‘snack?”  Snack has become synonymous with treat… which in his mind is something he’s not supposed to have often.  Ah – that old beast – Forbidden non-fruit, right?

Again, and we have discussed this previously in our Baby Steps series, I rely on Pre-Emptive Produce, i.e. – fill up on veggies first!  Requiring a healthy snack prior to a smaller helping of whatever you allow as a less than healthiest snack choice in your home still means more veggies and less crap.  It works for me as well.  An orange, an apple, a carrot dipped in almond butter, some leftover roasted sweet potato, all make me able to remember that I don’t need to eat some of the more tempting items in my pantry.  So with the seasons of more plentiful produce upon us…. I promise they really are upon us, if a little delayed this year… here are some suggestions for veggie-licious snacks beyond the carrot and celery stick.

Sweet & Spicy carrots:
Cut 2 large carrots into chunks, microwave for 60 – 90 second or to desired tenderness

Mix together 1 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger and a pinch of salt P1010627 Mix with carrots.
Make a double or triple batch and store in  the frig in little containers that can be grabbed – like a ‘snack’! P1010630 Pickly- cucumbers:
Slice 1 large or 2 med – small cucumbers into a glass container.
Add 1 Tbsp sugar & 1 Tbsp white vinegar
Cover with water
Add pepper if desired
Let sit for 4-5 hours – taste and add more vinegar / sugar / pepper if you like
Little Sis has some more complicated but delicious pickley cucumber goodness here.

Coleslaw cups
:
Coleslaw is very adaptable. Folks who don’t like (or don’t eat) mayo, can use alternate recipes and you can make it a little sweet without going crazy on the sugar!   Little Sis has a great cole slaw recipe here.

Roasted or baked potatoes
- this is a great alternative to chips. And if you can afford small, colored potatoes, then even better!  A mixture of potatoes and sweet potatoes is very nice and can be achieved in a 375 – 425 oven for 20 – 40 minutes depending on how small you cut the pieces.  But if you are making them for a snack it can go on while you are eating or doing something else right?  I just make extra when we have them for dinner – toss them in the frig and they are there to be easily heated up and scarfed down as a delicious snack!

Cauliflower crunch
:
Coat florets in olive oil then sprinkle paprika and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (turning once).  I usually roast things at 375.

Frozen Grapes & Kiwi:
As simple as it sounds.  Place grapes and bite-sized chunks of peeled kiwi on a parchment lined baking sheet in the freezer.  When hard, place in smaller containers and keep in the freezer.  Healthy, tasty frozen snack!

Crispy Asparagus:
dip asparagus in egg white and bread with either whole wheat panko, or Italian breadcrumbs and bake til crispy.  I would think this would work with green beans as well – and again 375 would be a good place to start – but watch them closely the first time!

Unusual fruits and veggies:
Novelty can be good or bad – depending on the person, but it is at least special or different.  Try serving fresh pineapple for dessert one night.  It goes on sale and can be a lot cheaper than ice cream (if you buy good or non-dairy ice cream in particular).  Sugar snap peas make a great snack that many kids like because they are sweet and crunchy.  Offer something different!

And of course there is the option of dipping various crispy fruits and veggies into:
hummus
salad dressing
nut butter
yogurt (yogurt mixed with a little cinnamon and sweetener, or onion soup mix – read the label!!!)
Nutty Lunch Dip

So change the snack paradigm in your house.  A snack is sustenance to carry you through to the next meal, or through a workout / physical trial.  It can also be a treat…. surely some of these will fill both bills for the snackers in your house.  And if they still have to have a little somethin’ somethin’ that is not at the top of your list of acceptable, they can have less of it on top of their healthy snack.

Eat the fruit….. Feel the love

Would you like seconds?  There’s plenty! Please help yourself!  I’m so glad you like it.  I made it just for you!  I remember you liked this last time you were here….. Oh I knew you were coming so I baked a cake :-)

It’s love we want to give them.  Isn’t it?  Of course we also want them to enjoy and be satisfied….. and be quiet and quit telling us they’re hungry, or to stop being cranky….. or I want ME to be less cranky (Little Sis knows about hungry me and cranky)…. but some of providing food for loved ones (including ourselves) is loving them.

How to walk the line between loving them with food / pleasing them with food / and wanting their food to promote health?

It ain’t easy.  And it’s very complicated because it’s not just about them, or just about us, it’s about us and them, living together, getting along, living in our convenience/sugar/fat/salt-full society, knowing of each others’ care and hopefully living a healthful long life.

Of course there is no guarantee that our ministrations of healthy food will keep them healthy, but there is great evidence that it helps.  We know that eating high vegetable, high fiber is good for you.  We’ve all seen the scary stories about how meat is processed (McDonald’s is finally putting an end to their use of ammonium hydroxide treated pink slime in their meat products)…. and LOTS of research finds a link between good health and increased intake of vegetables; AND lots of research is showing the detrimental effects of processed foods.  As the World Health Organization reveals new (lower) recommendations for added sugar intake, the world is waking up to sugar’s role in the increasing amounts of chronic disease in the world.  WHO’s recommendation is less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day (which is less than a can of coke).

When you think about giving people food / feeding people, we want them to be happy, pleased, satisfied, etc. because we want them.  We want time with them – pleasant time with them.

So here’s a new way to look at loving them with food.  Love them with healthy food, but give them time as well.  Healthy food doesn’t have to mean hours spent in the kitchen, although if they help you it will be time together in the kitchen!  Try some simple, real food.  If you have some fruit in the house and there is no junk food, and you sit down with your kids for a snack, they might eat it.  They might try it – hunger is pretty good at opening the mind.  Encourage everyone to try the fruit and feel the love.

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That’s my new motto, “Try the fruit…. Feel the love.”  “Try the vegetable….. Feel the love.”  “Try the Real Food…. Feel the love.  “Share some time….. Feel the love.”

Feel and taste and smell the goodness of that simple package of delicious nutrients.  Nothing added, nothing needed.  Just good.  Kind of like family and friends.  Just being together is nourishment.  Maybe the food is a bonus, an excuse, a centerpiece, a schedule…. but it’s the together part that matters in the long run.   Healthy food shared is much more fun than unhealthy food all alone.

The together part is what comes into play when we are faced with impossible challenges and unimaginable loss.  Our friend Annie who blogs at An Unrefined Vegan faced such a time when her brother Charles was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  She shares what she learned about walking that difficult journey with a loved one in an e-book titled :
A Terminal Illness Primer for Caregivers: Lessons from My Brother’s End-of-Life Journey

Annie loves her brother and shared her care by sharing her time and her ability to go to bat for him, in love.  She is a wonderful writer and we recommend this book for anyone who is facing a difficult diagnosis as a patient, a caregiver or a healthcare provider.  In addition, all proceeds from the book benefit research into brain cancer.

Time is probably the hardest thing to come by these days and it is one of the best reasons to eat healthfully.  You want your loved ones to be around for as long as possible with a good quality of life.  And there is something about Real Food that slows you down just a little bit.

So what’s the rush?  I know, I know, there is a rush to get it all done, be there on time, etc.  Many of us have come to rely on convenience foods to accommodate our busy schedules.  But convenience foods are not only generally unhealthy, but they often signify that the most important part of nutrition and of love is being stretched and cheated….. time together.  A simple meal of whole grain bread and nut butter, carrots and fruit can be eaten in the car outside the hockey rink or the dance studio together just as easily as waiting in line at McDonald’s.  Making it together beforehand is even better.

And the answer to why they have to eat that instead of McDonald’s?  Because I love you.  Now, let’s be nourished by this food and by this time together.

GF Blender Banana Bread

My husband is a banana bread fiend.  I used to roll out 2 loaves every 10 days or so.

Eat one, freeze one.  Thaw one, eat one.  Empty bag, eat none.

It went kinda like that.  In addition, having a loaf of banana bread in the freezer is a marvelous thing for unexpected gatherings, gifts or condolences.  At any rate – I had about the easiest recipe in the world straight from the Vita Mix recipe book.  Mix up the wet and banana in the blender – mix the dry in a bowl and about an hour later your house is filled with wonderful smells and folks hanging around in the kitchen.  Alas – those were our gluten-full days!  The banana bread went the way of so many things we used to eat.

I have been hesitant to just substitute GF baking mix for everything because it is very expensive and because it is mostly chickpea flour (which I don’t want to OD on), and has things like potato starch and tapioca starch in it which is basically sugar, so I’ve resisted.  However, the pile of browning bananas on my counter were begging me to turn them into something other than a smoothie, so I revisited the banana bread with the same method I used in my GF chocolate chip cookies: Mix about half the called for flour as GF baking mix, the other half as GF flours and still use the baking powder or soda in the original amount.  I’m liking this new approach, and my husband is LOVING his GF banana bread.

I promise I’ll get off the GF baking track soon, but it is so lovely to indulge in an old favorite that’s so much healthier than what I can buy at the store!  So I made this recipe gluten free and vegan.  Enjoy!

GF Blender Banana Bread
1 flax egg
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup milk – I used homemade almond milk
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon (or sub 1/2 tsp lemon extract)
1 cup GF baking mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour (you could probably sub other GF flours for these 2)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Mix your flax egg if using (1 Tbsp freshly ground flax meal to 3 Tbsp cold water, stir and let sit)
While egg is setting…
Pre-heat oven to 350
Lightly grease a loaf pan (I used coconut oil)
Mix the last 6 ingredients in a bowl
Put the first 6 ingredients in the blender.
Blend the wet on low until chunks are gone

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Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated
Pour into loaf pan
Bake at 350 for 45 – 55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for a bit before slicing or it will crumble and smush.

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Looking pretty good.  I was delighted with the texture – despite the cracks on top it was quite moist.

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Delicious and banana-y, banany?
Have you successfully adapted an old favorite to a new way of eating?
Has anyone come up with healthy french fries yet?
Just kidding – we consider roasted potatoes fit that bill, but I’m open to other ideas ;-).

My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie (and it’s GF!!)

Oh my oh my how I love cookies.  I have been drooling over the chocolate chip cookies that Little Sis kindly gave to her neighbor (who kindly plowed her drive)…. but they have wheat flour and I can’t see torturing one member of the family by making chocolate chip cookies that he can’t eat.  So I decided to give a GF choc chip another try.  I also decided to indulge by in part using Bob’s Red Mill GF flour / baking mix.  It makes up for the use of potato starch with garbanzo bean flour, so it has fiber and protein in it, but, as the name suggests – no gluten.

These cookies were chewy and since they are a little sweeter than my usual home baked goods, I could use these to thank neighbors and friends as well.  I was dubious enough of the outcome that I did not take any pictures of the process… but I quickly just snapped a picture of the last 2 cookies.  A few have been frozen away for lunches, but don’t tell, because they might not all make it into my son’s lunchbox!  I try to freeze some of whatever treat gets made so that A) it can easily be stuffed into a lunch box over the next several weeks, and B) there isn’t a big pile of it sitting around asking to be eaten!!

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Okay, so one is a little broken – but I don’t cry over broken cookies…. they are just a hint from the universe to remember to share!

My Best GF chocolate chip cookies  - vegan as well!!
- adapted from I.S. at Yahoo Voices

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF baking mix
½ c almond meal (or dried and pulverized leftover almond milk mash – that’s what I use)
½ c brown rice flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp guar gum
½ c unrefined sugar
½ tsp salt
½ c pure maple syrup
½ Tbsp blackstrap molasses
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup organic neutral flavored oil
½ – 2/3 c non-dairy chocolate chips
½ c roughly chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix the dry except chips and nuts
In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined.
Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chips & pecans, and stir until combined
Place ½ Tbsp scoops on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, rotating halfway through until browning just a tad on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack before removing from tray.
As Little Sis always says….. and she comes from a very bright family I hear – Eat that chocolate cookie while it is still warm!!

Looking for some other Gluten Free treats?
Chickpea/Chocolate Cookies
Almond Joy Brownies
2 Ingredient Yum (Fudge)
Cranberry Apple Pecan Crunch
Nut Butter Bliss Balls
Sweet Potato Crust Apple Pie / Cobbler

Potatoes and Peasant Food

Potatoes get a bad rap, but truly they are victims in this turn of event.  They can’t help it that we tend to slather them with fat and/or dunk them in hot grease and eat the least healthy versions of them (big and white) in large quantities.  While potatoes are high in carbohydrates, there is fiber in the skin, so if you eat small potatoes, you get more skin (fiber and nutrients) and less starchy insides.  And if you eat colored potatoes you are also getting carotenoids and flavonoids which are nutritious and act as anti-oxidants.

Unfortunately, the little colored potatoes are more costly than the big white ones… but they are worth investigating.  You might be very surprised at how much more flavorful a small colored potato is than a big white one.  Makes it easier to skip the sour cream, butter, cheddar cheese, bacon….. oh my.  I used to like that kind of thing on a baked potato – but your family just might like these with a touch of healthy oil and spices.

The pretty little buggers can be boiled, or roasted, or baked just like any other potato.  One of my favorite ways to prepare them is a double cook: baked, boiled or even microwaved, and then sliced and sauteed with some onion, possibly some greens and if you want, you can even throw in some scrambled eggs or meat if you eat it.

We always ate this one night on camping or backpacking trips when I was a kid and it was dubbed ‘peasant food.’

Peasant food is another of the quick throw what you have in a skillet for dinner ‘recipes’ that Little Sis and I have come to rely on when planning is lacking or life doesn’t go along with our carefully laid plans.  Okay, so that’s almost everyday, and that is why we have more than one sneaky quick dinner on hand.

In order to make peasant food quickly you have to have already cooked potatoes.  If you are brilliantly organized you might cook some potatoes at the beginning of every week, just to have for emergencies…. or you might be like me and just wash them, slice them and throw them in the microwave to soften them up before sauteing.  It is much easier to slice a cold potato than a hot one, so if microwaving, it is important to slice first.  If baking or boiling for future use, it is not necessary to pre-slice.

After you’ve got some soft potatoes, you are only about 15 minutes away from a meal.

Saute some onion, scallions or leeks if you like them in a Tbsp or 2 of oil.  I used some leftover leeks from a previous dinner

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I’m not giving amounts because as I said, this is a fly-by-the-seat of your stovetop recipe… use what you got, or what you think is reasonable.

When the onion-y type stuff is getting translucent, add your potatoes along with some salt and pepper.  You can also add other spices if you like, I just relied on the flavor of the leeks, salt and pepper to improve the potatoes.

Cook over Medium heat until heated through and you have a little bit of browning action going on.

Throw in a couple of handfuls of any hardy greens you have around…. I used spinach…. you could try kale or swiss chard as well.

Cook until greens are wilted.

Now if you want to add scrambled eggs or chopped meat – I would add beaten eggs after the greens wilt, or meat when you add the potatoes.  We did not add anything but used the potatoes as a side dish.

P1010540-001Check out those gorgeous purple potatoes!!!  Hard to believe they are potatoes.  I may just have to take a stab at growing some of these bad boys this summer because they are really great.

Don’t get rid of potatoes…. just get rid of (or cut down on) french fries, chips and the fatty toppings.  What’s underneath is Food.  Real Food.

P1010541-001 Now excuse me while I go eat these beautiful purple potatoes.  Mmmm.