Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dairy free? For healing, you might not have to give up every form of dairy. What can you eat?

First let me say right off the bat that i looooooooove the taste of dairy products, especially cheese.  In fact, my grandfather owned a cheese factory.  Unfortunately, I have all kinds of reactions to dairy products, so I mostly avoid them.  However, I am learning that there are some forms of dairy that I can eat with no or modified symptoms.

There are a lot of reasons why many of us are avoiding milk products.  Here are the most important for healing:

Inflammation--  Cow's milk can be highly inflammatory, so if you have an inflammatory disease you'll want to avoid it.  See the green box below for a list of diseases caused by inflammation.

Lactose Intolerance--  About 70% of the world population is lactose intolerant.  Lactose intolerance occurs in individuals who do not produce enough of the enzyme lactase.  The body uses lactase to break down the lactose in milk.  When lactase is lacking, undigested lactose passes through the stomach into the intestines where it begins to ferment.  The signs of lactose intolerance usually begin about 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy products.  These include bloating, pain or cramps in the lower belly, gurgling or rumbling sounds, gas, loose stools, diarrhea or throwing up.  These symptoms can be mild or severe, depending on how much lactase your body makes.

Allergies to Casein --  One of the most common allergies, especially in children is an Alpha S1 Casein allergy.  2-7% of infants are allergic to Casein.  These allergies tend to start very early in life and do not normally come on in adulthood.  Casein allergies are due to a reaction to a protein in milk which the body's immune system mistakenly targets, triggering the release of histamines.  Symptoms include 1) swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, face or throat  2) hives, rash or itchy skin  3)  nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing or wheezing.  Unfortunately, casein is most present in cheese since it is present in the curds that are formed when the whey is separated to form the cheese.  The harder the cheese, the more casein.

Whey Allergies--  Only 20% of folks with milk allergies are allergic to whey, while 80% have problems that occur due to casein.  Whey allergies cause the most clinical problems.  As with allergies to casein, whey allergies create excessive mucous forming.  High mucous levels leads to blocked airways, runny or stuffy noses and thick throats.  Whey proteins are altered by high heat, so people with whey allergies may be able to tolerate evaporated, boiled or sterilized milk and milk powder.

So does this mean all dairy products are out?  

You can eat grass-fed omega-3 eggs--  I'm only including eggs here because it seems that so often people lump eggs in with milk products when you say the word "dairy".  Eggs have nothing to do with milk allergies.  And in fact, the right eggs are actually anti-inflammatory.  By the right eggs, I mean, eggs from free-range grass-fed chickens, also sometimes called "pasture raised".  Eggs from grass-fed chickens are high in omega-3s which are anti-inflammation.  Eggs from factory chickens are not.  Plus if you are working at healing, you definitely want to avoid all the added hormones and antibiotics in factory raised chickens.

You can eat grass-fed omega-3 butter--  Many people who cannot tolerate the proteins in casein and whey products are okay with butter because much of the milk proteins have been removed. Even better, grass fed pasture-raised cows produce butter that is high in omega-3s.  If you are avoiding inflammation causing foods, you can easily add grass-fed butter to your diet.  However, if you have dairy allergies, watch your body after you consume grass-fed butter and see how you react.

Try ghee if you have reactions to butter--Many people that have allergies to butter are able to tolerate ghee.  Unless a person is extremely sensitive, they should be fine with ghee.  Ghee is melted butter with the solids skimmed away.  You can find ghee at Whole Foods and most health food stores, if your local supermarket does not carry it.

Try goat and sheep's milk--  The chemical structure of goat milk is more similar to human breast milk so it is easier for many people to tolerate.  It turns out that the fat molecules in goat milk are significantly smaller than the fat molecules in cow milk which makes them much easier to digest.  Goat milk also contains less lactose, so if you are lactose intolerant, you may be able to handle goat milk but not cow milk.  Also, goat milk has about 89% less casein than cows milk.  Not everyone can tolerate goat and sheep's milk, however.  A study in Spain found that 26% of those allergic to cow's milk were also allergic to goat and sheep milk.  As for inflammation, a study on rats has shown that goat milk has anti-inflammation properties.

Sheep milk has about the same amount of lactose as cow milk, so if you're lactose intolerant, it is not your solution.  However, even people who are severely lactose intolerant should be able to tolerate sheep's milk yogurt since the lactose it contains will have been converted to lactic acid.

You can easily find goat milk, yogurt, cheeses and ice creams.,,and all are delicious.  The French and Italians make wonderful goat and sheep cheeses and American cheese-makers are starting to develop some sophisticated and delicious choices, too.  Of course, we've all had regular goat cheese, but did you know that feta cheese is often made from goat milk?  (Check the package label before you buy to make sure--some manufacturers use cow milk.)  True Italian pecorinos are made from sheep milk (again check the label because American substitutions are made from cow milk,)  If you can find dairy products made from raw goat or cheese milk, all the better (see below.)

Try raw milk yogurt, kefir  and cheese products-- If you have lactose intolerance, the living lactobacillus cultures in raw milk yogurts, kefirs and cheeses actually help break down the lactose in these products, making them much more digestible than pasteurized milk products.  When milk is pasteurized it is heated to 160 degrees, a process which kills all the live bacterias which generally die off by about 120 degrees.  Also, grass-fed pasture-raised cows produce milk that has its own lactase in it (which is actually produced by the live bacterias in the milk) so whenever possible try to get your raw milk from pasture-raised cows.

Unfortunately, there are no large dairies commercially producing raw yogurts, so you will probably have to make your own, unless you have a local dairy that you can buy it from.  There are, however, raw kefirs available.  Many of these have sugar added though and if you're fighting inflammation, you want to avoid sugar.  French cheese-makers (and now some American cheese-makers, too) work with raw milk.  In fact, in France, pasteurised cheese is mostly only produced for export to American markets. You can find raw milk cheese at many gourmet food stores, Whole Foods, and local health food stores.  Unfortunately, some states, like Nevada, ban the sales of all raw milk products.  For the best of all possibilities, try yogurts, kefirs and cheeses made from raw goat and sheep's milk.

Test for yourself--  The only way you'll find out which of these product you can tolerate is if you test them out.  Try them in small amounts and proceed slowly, perhaps trying one product each week.  If you have other food allergies, be sure to keep your diet clean of all allergens while you test or you'll never know for sure if it was the dairy that caused a reaction.

(By the way, while you are testing, you may find yourself with some symptoms.  If you have facial puffiness, itchy eyes or sinus symptoms, a little Benadryl Gel gently patted around the eyes, nose and brow bone can help you feel better.)

Goat milk yogurt served with fresh figs, walnuts and drizzled with Coconut Nectar. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Polenta, Shiitaki and Shrimp--A Meal for an Autumn Evening

After months of eating salads, Farmer's Market veggies and meats fresh off the grill, autumn weather is turning our thoughts to more substantial fare.  I don't know why this happens every year, but along about now, I start thinking of stews, crock pots, roasts and grains.

Creamy polenta makes for perfect fall fixings.   Here we've paired it with shiitake sauteed with shallots, shrimp and some cooked super greens on the side.  Gotta have the super greens!

Polenta with Shiitake, Shrimp and Greens

Although this recipe may look like a lot of ingredients, it actually cooks up in 30 minutes  Assemble and chop all the ingredients before you start and then put on the polenta to cook.  While it is cooking, make the mushrooms, greens and then the shrimp.  

For the polenta:

6 c water
1 t salt
2 c polenta (I used Bob's Red Mill)
3 T butter
3 T goat cheese (goat and sheep's milk yogurts and cheeses are not inflammatory like cow milk products)

In a large saucepan bring the water and salt to boil.  Slowly stir in the polenta and drop the heat to simmer.  Continue cooking stirring regularly until polenta is thickened, about 30 minutes.  Add in butter and goat cheese.

For the shiitake:

1 generous shallot chopped fine
2 T olive oil
3 oz shiitake sliced
5 oz other sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
fresh thyme

Heat the olive oil over a medium high burner and saute' the shallot until softened.  Add the mushrooms and continue to saute' until all mushrooms are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add thyme pulled from several sprigs to add color and flavor.

For the shrimp:

2 garlic cloves chopped fine
3 T butter (always use grass-fed because the added omega-3's are anti-inflammatory)
4 T chardonnay
2 T lemon juice
16 medium shrimp shells removed

Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic clove and cook for a minute or two.  Add the shrimp, chardonnay and lemon juice and continue to saute until shrimp are pink.

For the greens:

6-8 cups of super greens (spinach, kale, chard or any other super green)
1 cup of water
2 T olive oil
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Bring the water to boil in a large frying pan.  Add the greens and cook until greens are limp and softened.  Drain.  Toss greens with olive oil, salt and pepper.

To serve:  

Plate the polenta and top each serving with some mushrooms and shrimp.  Place the greens on the side. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Healthy, Yummy French Toast Cooked with the Kind of Bread our Ancestors Ate

We've been cooking up a storm with einkorn flour.  This naturally low-gluten, ancient grain wheat flour becomes almost no-gluten when it is cooked into bread loaves using a natural sourdough starter.

It turns out that many people who have problems with the higher gluten content in regular wheat flour are able to tolerate einkorn flour easily.*

Although at first, the bread loaves made with einkorn flour and sourdough starter seemed dense and heavy, we are all growing very attached to them.  They are satisfying and filling and we find ourselves craving them.

I can't help but think of these einkorn loaves as peasant bread.  They have that hearty, country texture. It wasn't until just a century or so ago that the use of yeast leavening in bread baking became common. Up until then, most bread was leavening with natural sourdough cultures.  This loaf is merely taking us back to our baking roots, using ancient grains that were first cultivated by man 10,000 years ago along with the natural leavening method used for thousands of years.

Einkorn flour bread baked with a sourdough starter.  It's dense and heavy, but we find ourselves craving more!

This week we've been using our einkorn sourdough loaves to make a delicious French toast.  It's easy to make.  Just use a fork to beat an egg on a dinner plate.  Pour in about 2 T of almond milk and shake in about 1/4 t of stevia and a pinch or so of cinnamon.  Slice off a few slices of bread and let them soak for a minute or so in the mixture.  You can then fry the French toast up over medium heat in some melted grass fed butter or coconut oil.  Remove the toast from the pan when it is golden and just barely crisping on the outside.  Yum!!

Top with no-sugar jam or drizzle with Coconut Nectar for a delicious sugar-free, dairy-free, low-gluten breakfast.

If you've never tried French toast cooked in coconut oil, give it a shot.  It's really delicious and kids beg for it.  (Pancakes also taste wonderful cooked in coconut oil.)

Just curious...

Will you have to have it again tomorrow morning?  I know I will.  I'm already thinking about it!

For our easy no mess directions on making einkorn bread, see here.
For directions to make homemade einkorn sourdough starter, see here.
For further information on the benefits of einkorn flour, see here.
For some interesting information on natural leavening vs. yeast leavening, see here.  

* We do not recommend this bread for Celiacs.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Easy Einkhorn Wheat Bread--The Really Low Gluten Alternative

First of all, let me just say right off the bat that Einkhorn wheat is not suggested for use by those with Celiac disease.

However, if you are avoiding gluten for other reasons, such as anti-inflammation or eczema healing, you may be very happy to know that many people with gluten intolerances do just fine with a little einkorn flour in their diets.  Using organic einkorn flour with a true sourdough leavening process (no yeast) produces a bread loaf that has a low gluten content.  In fact, with the right starter, your loaf could fall well below FDA guidelines for gluten free!  (See here for more information about using einkorn flour for low gluten cooking.)

To get the lowest gluten content use a true sourdough leavening process, not yeast.

Delicious, nutritious, low gluten, high protein einkorn sourdough bread.  

Why not just buy a loaf of gluten-free bread at the supermarket?  Gluten-free loaves are mostly made with tapioca starch, potato starch, white rice flour, and other starches.  The starches in these loaves get released as sugars into the blood stream very quickly which is not a good thing if you are overweight, diabetic or have an imbalance in your gut flora (candida).  On the other hand, einkorn flour is high in protein and much lower in carbohydrate than regular wheat bread.  It is a nutritious, blood sugar stabilizing choice.

Let's face it.  We all have busy lives and baking bread may seem like an overwhelming task.  However, if your choice is between never having a sandwich again and baking your own bread, you may feel motivated to make this easy no-fuss, no-mess einkorn bread.  Yes, there are a lot of hours involved, but there's almost no work.  With a little planning and this easy bake method, you can fit bread baking into your life.

If you're a working mom or dad, or anyone with a busy schedule, here's a way you can make this work.  Start your prep work the night before.  Just mix the ingredients up while you cook dinner.  Then let them raise overnight.  The next morning, the very first thing after you get up, gently press the dough down into a dutch oven, let it rise for one hour and bake it for 40 minutes while you're getting yourself ready for work.  Take the loaf out of the oven and out the door you go!

Total prep time:  10 hours,   Actual effort time:  12 minutes!!!

Easy Living Low Gluten Einkorn Wheat Bread 

1 cup of sourdough starter (you can beg, borrow or steal some starter from someone you know, order it online from here, or follow our directions to make your own einkorn flour version here.
5 cups einkorn flour
1 cup and 3 T warm water
1 t salt

Mix ingredients together and knead for 60 seconds until dough starts to smooth out a little bit,
cover tightly with plastic wrap and let raise overnight while you sleep, or for about 8-12 hours.

If your house is cooler than 70 degrees, you may want to provide your dough with a warmer environment in order to activate the leavening.  You can place your tightly wrapped dough on the bottom shelf of your oven and turn the oven light on.  This should raise the temperature of your oven well into the 70's.


The next morning, or when you have a good rise from your dough, gently press the dough down and put it in a dutch oven that you have sprayed with olive oil.  Make a slash or two in the top layer of dough with a knife so the bread can rise a little more in baking.  Put the lid on, place it in the unheated oven again on the low rack with the light on and allow it to rise again--about 1 hour.

This cast iron dutch oven from Le Creuset works perfectly.
Remove the dough from the oven and turn the oven on to 475 degrees.  When the oven is hot, put the covered dutch oven back into the oven and bake for 40 minutes.  After 20 minutes remove the lid.  When the bread is baked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Be sure to slather that first slice out of the oven with grass fed butter and eat it while it's warm! Grass fed butter is high in omega-3s which are strong inflammation fighters (regular butter is not).  So enjoy a little organic grass fed butter in your daily life!

This method of cooking was inspired by an article in the New York Times explaining the no knead method adapted from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery.    

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Peel for You! Healing eczema with tangerine peel.

As I mentioned in a recent posting, we're working on developing a nutritional healing report for eczema at  Already we've come up with all sorts of amazing information on how to heal and prevent eczema.  Our information is mostly coming from our NASA developed deep Net search engine that scours the internet finding all kinds of mostly unknown information that is published in obscure places in university studies, hospital studies, government studies, doctor and dietitian studies, etc.  It's very exciting!

However, one of the interesting things we're also doing is working with a Chinese Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor (TCM) to development supplemental information on Eastern healing with foods.  For eczema, one food that was recommended was pearl barley.  I've already written about barley, here.  Plus, I've put together a wonderful pin board of some great barley recipes, here.

Now I'm doing the same for tangerine peel, another healing ingredient recommended in TCM for healing and preventing eczema.

Dried Tangerine Peel

In China, dried tangerine has been used as a cooking and healing ingredient for thousands of years.  It has a subtle flavor and lovely fragrance that helps to create the complex flavors Chinese cooking is known for.  In China, it is used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Tangerines are in season from October to April.  You can make your own dried tangerine peel simply by peeling a tangerine and letting the peel air dry in the sun for several days.  Once dried, it can be stored for several years in an airtight container along with your other herbs and spices.  Over time the peel will turn dark but that does not adversely affect the taste or potency.

Store dried tangerine in an air-tight container.

Sooooo, how do you get tangerine peel into your diet?  You can use fresh grated tangerine peel when tangerines are in season or dried peel that you have saved when they're not.  For fresh peel, use a fine grater and then fine chop with a large chef's knife.  For dried peel, take a large chef's knife and chop as fine as you can manage.  (By the way, I tried to do this in the food processor with little success.  I also tried a mortar and pestle which  really didn't produce results either.  The quickest easiest approach is the large chef's knife by hand.)

A classic chef's knife.

Add the grated or chopped peel to soups, homemade breads, jams, fruity desserts and any other foods you think it might be compatible with.  Add it to meals as frequently as you can.

In salads--   One easy way to use tangerine peel is in any homemade vinaigrette.  The following recipe is for a tangerine salad with a tangerine-juice-based dressing, but you could just sprinkle a little peel into any basic vinaigrette recipe, too.

Fresh, tangy and delicious!

Tangerine Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette

For vinaigrette:
1/4 t finely chopped minced dried tangerine peel
fresh grated peel from 1 tangerine
2 T tangerine juice
1 T white wine vinegar
1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 t honey or more to taste
1/4 t fresh ground medium coarse pepper
1/4 t sea salt
1 t Italian herb mix
1/2 t freeze dried red onion or chopped fresh shallot
1 T flax oil
2 T olive oil

Stir together all ingredients except oil.  Drizzle in oil slowly while whisking vigorously.

For salad:
lettuce or baby kale
2 tangerines peeled and sliced
2 avocados  peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 cucumber peeled and sliced

Arrange tangerines, avocados and cucumbers on lettuce.  Dress with vinaigrette.

By the way, I love fresh chopped shallots in vinaigrettes.  However, for those times when I'm out of shallots, I use this freeze dried red onion product as a substitute:

Works great when you don't have fresh shallots!

And for breakfast--   At NutritionScienceRx, we're all hooked on morning super green smoothies...

Super Green Smoothie with Tangerine Peel

Perhaps the easiest, healthiest way to get tangerine peel into your diet is to add it to your morning green  smoothie.  I've found that you can add a piece of fresh peel about the size of a quarter to your Super Green Smoothie without disturbing the taste.  Go ahead and throw in the rest of the fresh tangerine.  It's delicious!  Here's our favorite Super Green Smoothie recipe.

Add tangerine peel about the size of a quarter per smoothie serving.

And with chicken--   My kids have always loved any recipe that involves pounded chicken breasts.  I know that just hearing the word "pounded" seems overwhelming, but this is actually a quick and easy way to prepare chicken.  Once the chicken has been pounded, it cooks in minutes.  Then you can remove the breasts, deglaze the pan with wine, stock, lemon juice or in this case tangerine juice, stir in a little butter and you have a dish that really knocks everyone out.  I often add capers to pounded chicken breasts, but in this case I used shallots to compliment the tangerine flavor.

Pounded Chicken Breasts in Tangerine Sauce

3 T olive oil
2 organic chicken breasts pounded
3 T flour
sea salt and white pepper
1 chopped shallot
grated peel from one tangerine
1/3 cup tangerine juice
1 cup organic chicken broth
2 T grass fed butter

To pound the breasts, put them in a plastic supermarket bag and pound them with a meat pounder until they are tenderized on both sides and flattened to about 1/2" thick.  Put the flour, salt and white pepper on a dinner plate and mix well.  Put the olive oil in a frying pan and heat on medium high.  Dredge the chicken breasts in the mixture and put them the heated frying pan.  Cook the breasts, watching carefully, until they are starting to get golden and are just barely cooked through.  Remove the breasts from the pan and add the shallots.  Watch closely and stir regularly.  When shallots are softened add tangerine juice and chicken stock.  Cook the juice down to about 1/2 cup.  Turn the heat off and add the butter, stirring gently until just melted.  Spoon the sauce immediately over the chicken breasts and serve.

For a pin board loaded with delicious and healthy eczema healing tangerine recipes, see here.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Everybody Needs a Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Now and Then...

If you are working to heal with foods, you may be on a gluten, dairy and sugar-free diet.  Some people have no problem restricting themselves like this.  However, there are those of us that go into extreme mourning at the thought of giving up birthday cake permanently.  What to do if you're one of those persons?

If you're working to reduce inflammation in your body, you may find, as some of us do, that you can mostly avoid sugar, gluten and dairy and keep yourself healthy.

So that brings us to an important question...can you have a cookie once in a while?

At NutritionScienceRx, we're working to find adaptations for your favorite foods that help you stay in your healing lifestyle.  We want you to enjoy your life and find pleasure in your meals.  If that means eating cookies, pasta, pizza and cake, then we are working hard to help you find healthy ways to do so.

Well, what if that cookie tasted much like a chocolate chip Toll House cookie, but it was low gluten and low sugar...   

We've come up with an adaptation to the American favorite, Toll House cookie recipe that tastes fabulous, but is not destructive to your healthy diet.  Our recipe uses einkorn flour.  Cooking with eikorn wheat flour is a good example of this mostly cutting back lifestyle.  Einkorn is much lower in gluten than regular wheat flour and many people who don't do well with gluten seem to be fine with it.  The only way you'll know for sure whether it's for you is if you try some and watch your body for inflammation symptoms.

Einkorn ancient wheat flour--higher protein and lower gluten than modern flour.
Just what is einkorn?  Einkorn is an ancient wheat grain.  Modern wheat has been hybridized over the years and bred with other grass strains.  The genetic changes this has created in modern wheat have significantly increased the gluten content.*  Unlike modern wheat, however, einkorn flour has remained lower in gluten content because it was never hybridized.  Einkorn flour also has a much higher protein content so it is much less likely to spike your insulin meaning it helps you keep diabetes and weight gain under control.  

Of course, if you're fighting inflammation, it's not just the wheat flour that's a challenge with cookies, it's also the sugar.  In this recipe, we've used coconut sugar and stevia as a substitute for regular sugar.
Coconut Crystals (also sometimes called coconut sugar or palm sugar)
Coconut crystals are made from the sap from coconut trees that has been concentrated into a thick syrup and then dried and toasted. Coconut crystals (also sometimes called coconut sugar or palm sugar) have a texture and taste very much like brown sugar.  In order to stretch out their sweetening power, we like to mix coconut sugar with stevia, a natural herb which the body does not treat like a sugar.  This keeps the overall "sugar" content of a recipe down as well as the insulin rise.

As for dairy vs. no dairy, this recipe uses butter, but we've found that grass fed organic butter is anti-inflammation because of its high omega-3 content.  So even if you're avoiding dairy, you might want to consider adding grass fed butter into your regular diet.  Yippee!!  Butter is good for you!  (In moderation, of course.)

So, here's our recipe for low-gluten, low-sugar Toll House cookies.  Just a heads up...the cookies are much darker than the Toll House recipe and they aren't exactly the same taste and texture, but they really are extremely yummy.  And let's face it, compared to the alternative of no Toll House cookies, any Toll House cookies are a really great option!

Toll House recipe with einkorn flour.  As good as the original.  

Einkorn Low Gluten, Low Sugar Toll House Cookies 

1 1/2 c einkorn flour
1 cup almond meal (Trader Joe's sells this)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c or 2 sticks grass fed organic butter, brought just to room temperature
1/2 c coconut crystals
2 T stevia
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips--Enjoy Life brand has less sugar than other choices**
2 cups chopped nuts such as walnuts or pecans

Stir together in a bowl the flour, almond meal, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of a mixmaster with a beater blade, add the butter, coconut crystals, stevia and vanilla.  Beat until combined. Add in the two eggs and continue beating until combined.  Add in the flour mixture slowly with the paddle going at slow speed.  .When mixture is fully combined, add in the chips and nuts.  Do not overbeat.
Use a 1 1/2 inch releasing scoop to drop dough onto a silpat covered cookie sheet.  Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 8- 9 minutes. Do not overcook or they will get very dark.  These cookies are naturally darker than Toll House because of the dark brown color of the coconut crystals.  Put cookies on a rack to cool.  These cookies freeze very well and can be eaten frozen for a delicious treat.

* By the way, einkorn's low gluten content can be even more decreased in baking bread if one uses sourdough culture which devours gluten in the leavening process.

**Reduce the quantity of chips to reduce the sugar content of the cookies.  Or you can make your own sugar free chocolate chips by melting unsweetened chocolate in a 2-1 ratio to Coconut Nectar.  Let the chocolate harden in the refrigerator and then chop into chunks.

For more information on einkorn wheat, go here.

By the way, if you find that the gluten in einkorn flour bothers you, there are other delicious grain free cookie recipes on this web-site under gluten-free.  We also have a cookbook coming out shortly called "Grain-free, Sugar-Free Baking and Treats" and it has many delicious tasty recipes for cookies and deserts.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Einkorn Sour Dough Starter for Low Gluten Bread Making

If you're eating for your health, you may be working to keep the inflammation levels in your body as low as possible.  As you may know, gluten consumption can cause dangerous disease-creating levels of inflammation in the body.

 Here are some facts about how you can lower the gluten content in wheat bread:
  1. Ancient wheat has lower gluten than modern wheat.  Einkorn is one of the oldest wheat forms available on the planet today.
  2. Lower chromosome wheat has lower gluten than modern wheat.  Einkorn has 12 chromosomes and modern wheat has 48 chromosomes.
  3. Organic wheat has lower gluten than chemically fertilized and pest controlled wheats.
  4. Using a traditional sourdough starter, rather than yeast, significantly lowers the gluten content in bread.  ( By sourdough we mean lacto fermentation and not the "sourdough" taste additives you sometimes find in commercial breads that are actually leavened with yeast.)  In some cases the gluten content can be lowered to the point that the bread is actually considered gluten-free according to FDA standards which is that there be 20 parts per million of gluten in a food or less.   
In the past weeks I've been working extensively with organic einkorn ancient wheat flour as a lower gluten alternative for baking and experimenting with sourdough starters.  It's been challenging to develop a proper sourdough starter and I thought I'd pass on some tips I've discovered (mostly with help from Doug Baehr at Uncommon Kitchen in Tahoe City).  

Use any flour--   First, let me just say that you can use any good sourdough starter to bake your einkorn four bread.  You do not have to use a starter made with einkorn flour.  A good rye or regular wheat flour based starter will work fine to begin with.  Once you have it active, you can feed it with einkhorn flour.

Buy ready made--   If you don't wish to make your own starter, you might try asking for a small bit from a local baker to get you started.  Or you can order one online.   Cultures for Health might be a good place to start.  

Allow some time--   If you make your own starter, it takes days to get it up and going.  Set aside the time and be patient with the process.  

Taste improves with time--  A more mature starter will be tastier than a brand new one.  By the tenth baking, your loaves should have a much more developed flavor.  

You must feed your starter--  Keeping a starter active requires regular attention and care.  Twelve hours before you use your starter you must feed it so that the cultures are activated and ready for your baking  If you are baking daily or regularly, you will need to do daily maintenance on your starter.

In the course of my experimentation in baking bread with einkorn flour, I've had good luck with a sourdough starter I was gifted with.  I've also made a successful loaf using kefir as a starter (although the kefir starter creates a bread with a slight but distinctively cheesy taste and smell).  However, I had the desire to learn how to make an einkorn flour sourdough starter.

I am finding that the stages that would normally take about 6 hours of starter development are taking about 24 hours in my kitchen.  Is this because Einkorn flour develops more slowly than wheat flour or is it because the temperature in my kitchen is rather cool?  I don't know the answer to that.  I live in the mountains and the air is relatively cool here year round.  Even during the mild months of the year my kitchen is often cool and in the winter it is kept around 65 degrees in the daytime and 60 at night.

In either case, you will have to carefully watch your starter for signs that it is becoming active.  When it is active and fermenting, it will soften, grow and smell sour.  In my proofing stages, my starter has not yet bubbled, but some starters do.  

Here's how to create your einkorn flour starter:

Day One:  Mix together 1/2 cup of einkorn flour and 3 tablespoons of warm water until it forms a silly putty textured ball.  Place the ball on a plate and cover it with a glass jar turned upset down.  Allow it to create it's magic for the next 5 days.  Do not be alarmed if it turns brown and hard on the exterior or even if it develops mold.

Use a sharpie to label the jar and its contents along with today's date.  This is especially important if you are making up more than one starter.

Day Five:  Remove the crusty exterior and any mold carefully saving only the clean activated interior (about 1-2 tablespoons).  Add 1/4 cup einkorn flour and 1 1/2 tablespoons warm water to the start and stir.  Allow it to remain out on the counter until bubbling or growing activity can be detected.

When 6-24 hours have passed since adding the new flour and water, examine the starter for signs of fermentation, softening and growth.  When you see these, throw away half of the starter and add 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons of water to the start.  Stir and repeat the process of watching for activity.

After another 6-24  hours have passed repeat the process of discarding part of the starter and feeding it, but this time add 1/2 cup flour and 3 T warm water.

After the next 6-24 hours add 1 cup and 6 T and then at the next feed 2 cups and 12 T.  This will give you a nice quantity of active starter and it is time to start baking.

Einkorn starter with fresh water and flour just added.

Einkorn starter after hours of fermentation.  Ready for use.

Note:  You can speed up the proofing process by putting your starter in your oven on the bottom shelf with the oven light turned off.  This should bring the temperature up to somewhere in the 70's.  Your starter should be able to fully proof in a matter of several hours in the oven.

Once your starter is humming along, you can feed it, wait for it to show signs of activation and then put it in the refrigerator for safekeeping.  Be sure to feed and grow it within at least 12 hours before any baking.  This way it will be activated and ready to work its magical leavening and gluten consuming power on your bread.

The good news is that baking bread with einkorn flour is much less work and fewer steps than baking with regular flour.  Once you get your starter up and ready, your baking process will be fairly easy.   

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Barley Chronicles

I've never really thought much about barley before.  Have you?  Isn't barley just that stuff you get in beef soup?

Aaah, but it turns out that barley is so much more than that, Sensei*.  At NutritionScienceRx, we are currently researching foods that are healing for eczema.  We have a Chinese Traditional Medicine doctor working with us and she recommends pearl barley for eczema and other skin conditions.

I was thinking about barley the other day as I drove home from Sonoma County to Lake Tahoe.  As it happened, I stopped at a roadside ranch market where they stock Bob's Red Mill and...what  do you know, but there was a package of pearl barley, right there on the shelf in front of me.

When I got it home, I first prepared it simply.  I  brought 3 cups of organic chicken broth to a boil, added the peal barley, lowered the heat and cooked it for almost an hour.  When it was cooked, it was... surprisingly, absolutely, yummy!  One of my friends dropped by and we ate it warm in a bowl with melted grass fed butter oozing over the top.  We both decided it was the ultimate comfort food for autumn.  It's hearty and filling, warm and buttery and just delicious.

I put the rest of the cooked peal barley in a plastic container and put it in the fridge where I have been pulling it out for snacks, sides and salads.  It will last for a week like this.  

The next night I served it as a side dish with dinner, just as before, warm with melting butter.  My husband just raved about it.  Wow, who knew that pearl barley would taste so good.

I started to do a little online researching into cooking with barley.  One of the things I noticed when I searched for barley recipes was that most of the salads had relatively low rankings of 3 1/2 stars.  This is unusual for just about any food.  Almost every ingredient has at least a few recipes with 5 star rankings.  It was puzzling because these salads had great ingredients listed.  And as I've discovered, barley itself tastes so good to start out with.  I wondered what was going wrong.

In working with barley, I notice that it is like a sponge and soaks in ingredients.  I find that it takes some strong flavors to counter that tendency.  For this reason, I chose a very strong balsamic, Dijon and shallot vinaigrette for the first recipe.  The second recipe's vinaigrette has a higher ratio of acid to oil than usual and that is why I believe it is successful.   Anyway, enough of food chemistry.  On to the the actual food...

Smoked Salmon and Barley Salad

2 t Dijon mustard
3 T walnut oil
1 T Balsamic vinegar
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t heaping Herbs de Provence
1 T finely chopped fresh shallot
1 1/4 cups barley that has been cooked in organic chicken broth
4 oz smoked wild salmon  (must be wild or it won't have the important omega-3s)
2 T capers
1 cup chopped celery

super green lettuce mix

Whisk together Dijon, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, Herbs de Provence and shallot to make a vinaigrette.  Stir in all other ingredients.  Serve on a bed of super greens.

Note:  Walnut oil and wild salmon are rich in omega-3s which are anti-inflammatory and therefore helpful in healing eczema.  Super greens, celery, shallots and capers are also all anti-inflammatory.  

If you prefer a more subtle pearl barley salad recipe, try this one which is adapted from the one on the Bob's Red Mill bag.  I've made a number of changes to it, one of which was adding tangerine peel which is another ingredient recommended for healing eczema in Chinese Traditional Medicine.

Adapted Bob's Red Mill Pearl Barley Salad (with Tangerine)

1 cup pearl barley
3 cups organic chicken stock
1 can garbanzo beans rinsed thoroughly
1 cup cashews
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
2 t dried mint
peel from 1 tangerine grated and chopped fine
2 T olive oil
1 T flax oil
2 T tangerine juice
1 T lemon juice
1/4 t sea salt
generous ground black pepper to taste

lettuce leaves
optional:  goat cheese

Heat the chicken stock to boil and add the cup of barley. Reduce heat and simmer about an hour or until tender. Cool.  Add barley, beans, cashews, carrot, parsley mint and tangerine rind to a bowl.  Mix the rest of the ingredients to make a vinaigrette.  Combine all ingredients and serve on lettuce leaves.  If you eat dairy, you might add a little goat cheese for extra pizzaz.

Note:  Just about every ingredient in this recipe is either anti-inflammatory (inflammation is a cause of eczema), high in omega-3s (also good for decreasing inflammation) or an ingredient that is specifically good for healing eczema.  Cow milk products are inflammatory, however, goat milk is significantly less inflammatory.

By the way, I've custom selected a group of delicious sounding barley recipes from around the internet.  Click to visit my Barley pin board.

*Actually Sensei is the Japanese word for master teacher.  In Chinese the word is similar, Xiansheng, and has the same meaning.

Super Green Smoothie--the Morning Inflammation Fighter

We're fighting inflammation by drinking a Super Green Smoothie each morning for breakfast.  At NutriGuide, we're all doing it.  This, by the way, folks, is the true breakfast of champions!

Inflammation is linked to so many diseases these days (see box below for a list of specific diseases). Our favorite smoothie foods, super greens, green herbs, fresh veggies and fruits, are all high powered inflammation fighters.  

By the way, one thing we've noticed is that when foods are really good for you, your body craves them and loves the taste of them.  Such is the case with the Super Green Smoothie.  Of course, it will never taste as good as a cupcake.  However, after a few days, you'll find that your smoothie gives you a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction.  If it seems strange to you to drink a green smoothie for breakfast, we urge you to just try it for a few days.  You'll love it.

Actually, what you'll love most is the clear thinking brain power, the glowing skin, the looser clothing and the extra plus energy.  

Smoothies are easy to make.  People who own one, swear by a Vitamix, but you can use a food processor or a blender if that's what you happen to have already.  Our daily smoothie recipes vary from day to day, but we try to always include some of the following:

A small head of lettuce (Romaine or any other leafy green.  You can buy bags of several heads of organic Romaine at Costco and many local supermarkets.)

Super Greens--Select from kale, chard, spinach, mizuna, arugula, amaranth, quinoa or any other fabulous super greens you can get your hands on.  Toss in a couple of generous handfuls.

Leafy Green Herbs--We like parsley, flat leafed parsley and cilantro.  Here, one small handful will do.

Celery and Cucumber-- Add about 1-2 cups of each.  If the cucumber is waxed, cut the skin off. 

An apple--Leave on the peel, but cut the apple in half and remove the core and seeds.

A lemon--Remove all the seeds and most of the peel.  Put the rest into the smoothie, pulp, juice and all.  

Filtered Water--Add 1-2 cups to help your food processor or blender create a liquid.  

This is the basic recipe for a delicious smoothie.  This will make about 3 smoothies.  You can drink one now and put the other two into the fridge, tightly covered, one for each of the next two days.  

We often add our favorite fruits to our smoothies.  In fact, we've found two fruits that really improve the taste.  Be sure to add these to your first smoothies as they will make them more tasty while you are a newcomer to the smoothie habit.  We like to add half a banana to each morning's drink plus about 4 big fat grapes.  Also, if you like cilantro, be sure to add it the first time out.  We think it makes the smoothie taste better. 

Half a banana and a scoop of protein powder each day.

One last important add-in might be a scoop of protein powder.  If you are diabetic or under weight, be sure to add this.  It will help you make it through to lunch.  Most people will be able to have just the smoothie for breakfast.  In fact, this can be a wonderful weight loss or maintenance trick, if that's your goal.  

Once you've processed your basics in your food processor or blender, you might want to finish today's smoothie off in a smaller blender such as a Bullet.  We usually store the extra smoothies in the fridge without the fresh fruits and protein powder, adding them and blending just before drinking.  Add the extra fruits and protein powder and blend for half a minute or so to create a smoother texture.  The Bullet has lots of special cups with lids that can be used to drink your smoothie and to store the leftovers for tomorrow and the next day.  It cleans up quickly, too. 

Yum, yum.  Drink up!  It's really good for you.