Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Creative Cranberries

Oops!  In a rush shopping job, I bought my cranberries at Costco and when it came time to unpack my groceries at home I realized that the bags was a giant 2 pounds!  That's a lot of cranberries.

In case you also have a few cranberries too many, here are a few delightful holiday recipes for cranberries.

For all you persimmon lovers out there, here is a pretty cranberry relish sauce made with our favorite autumn fruit, Fuyu persimmons...

Cranberry Sauce with Fuyu Persimmons

3 ½ cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons juice from mandarin or clementine
Zest from one mandarin or clementine
½ cup Sucanat or coconut sugar
3 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Bring cranberries, wine, juice, zest, sugar, salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add more sugar, to taste (up to about 2 1/2 tablespoons). Stir in persimmons.
Refrigerate.  Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Make cranberries up to four days in advance. Add persimmons before serving.

And if you want to try a delicious twist, why not play on the sharp flavors in cranberries by adding sour cream and horseradish?  Not only great with Thanksgiving dinner, this version makes a fantastic accompaniment to leftover turkey sandwiches.  

Cranberry Sour Cream Sauce

2 cups raw cranberries
1 small or ½ large onion
½ cup coconut nectar
¾ cup sour cream with live cultures (buy at your local health food store or Whole Foods) or Homemade Sour Cream  
2 tablespoons horseradish

Blender— Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until just combined. 
Freeze— Put the mixture in a freezer-proof container and freeze overnight.
Thaw and serve--  Thaw the cranberry sauce in the refrigerator and serve.  

And finally, here's a healing adaptation for Cranberry Nut Bread that we think you're going to love...

Cranberry Einkorn Nut Bread

2 cups Einkorn flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup coconut sugar (also known as palm sugar or coconut crystals)
Grated rind from 1 orange
2 tablespoons melted butter from pasture-raised cows
1/3 cup coconut nectar
¾ cup orange juice
1 egg, well beaten
1 ¾ cup chopped cranberries
¾ cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spary a 9 x 5 loaf pan with coconut oil.

Dry ingredients—In a mixing bowl, combine together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, coconut sugar and grated rind. 
Wet ingredients--  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the butter, coconut nectar, orange juice and egg.  Stir ingredients together until just combined.   
Nuts and fruits--  Stir in cranberries and pecans. 
Bake—Pour ingredients into baking pan and bake in the oven for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool and serve.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kale for the holidays.

Here's a pretty salad you can serve to guests this holiday season.  It's brimming with health and packed with healing phytonutrients.  Plus a salad like this is full of the prebiotics that the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system love to munch on.  Keeping your gut microbiome happy and healthy helps control obesity and diabetes, protects against auto-immune diseases and supports the immune system (to name only a few of the many benefits).

It just so happens that kale is one of the best prebiotic foods around.   Your gut bacteria loves kale.  And here's the good news, when it's served up in a delicious, seasonal and colorful salad like this, so does everybody else!

Holiday Salad with Kale and Persimmons 

¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches Dino Kale
12 ounces Brussels sprouts
½ cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese (optional)
1 pomegranate
2 Fuyu persimmons

Combine lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend and set aside to allow flavors to combine.

Remove center stem from kale leaves and thinly slice the leaves. Trim the Brussels sprouts to remove the base and any discolored outer leaves, and grate or thinly slice the sprouts. Mix kale and Brussels sprouts in a large serving bowl.

To remove the seeds from the pomegranate, score 4 lines from top to bottom to quarter the pomegranate and tear it open into quarters. Hold each quarter over a bowl, seeds facing down and tap the skin with a wooden spoon, squeezing a little to release the seeds. Slice the Fuyu persimmons into bite-sized pieces.

Toast almonds in ½ cup of the oil in a skillet on medium high heat, stirring frequently until golden about two minutes. Remove from heat, transfer nuts to a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.

Slowly whisk the remaining olive oil into the lemon juice mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add dressing and cheese (optional) to the salad and toss to coat.  Add fruit and toss lightly. Garnish with the almonds.  (Or for a more festive individual salad, plate the greens and then garnish with the fruit and almonds.)

Monday, November 23, 2015

How do you improve on roast turkey? Add bacon, of course...

Anything's better with bacon, right?

Yesterday I attended a Thanksgiving potluck and was asked to roast a turkey. Thanks to my mother and Vincent Price, my turkeys always turn out moist and flavorful, and yesterdays was no exception.

There are two reasons why my holiday turkey is consistently delicious.  The first, and biggest, is that I always use a fresh organic, free-ranging turkey.  There's just no comparison.  Of course, pasture-raised animals are high in those all-important anti-inflammation omega-3's and that alone is the best reason to eat them.  But not only that, you can taste the difference, too.

The second reason: bacon.  I always use my mother's favorite recipe which actually came originally from an old Vincent Price cookbook.  This is a fantastic recipe and includes a few small extra steps that really add flavor to the turkey itself and ultimately, the gravy which gets made from the pan drippings.  Once you learn how to make gravy, it only takes a few extra minutes to whisk it up and doing so adds so much deliciousness and crowd satisfaction to the meal!

In 1965, the actor Vincent Price and his wife Mary made a beautiful cookbook called A Treasury of Great Recipes which was recently re-released and is currently available on

In case you're not sure who Vincent Price was ... famous as one of the original horror movie stars, he was known for his creepy laugh which was later featured in the Michael Jackson Thriller video:

Anyway, his Turkey Wayside Inn recipe includes a generous rubbing of the turkey in butter as well as a topping of several strips of bacon.  What's not to love about that?! Here's our version of his recipe with a few slight anti-inflammation adaptations:

Turkey Wayside Inn

Note: It used to be that the turkey was done when the turkey breast reached 175 degrees.  Newer thinking has it at 165 degrees. Experience has taught me that the bigger the bird, the faster it cooks.  I think this may have something to do with the larger bones conducting more heat faster.  Even very large turkeys cook for me in about 4 hours or so.  When I first began roasting turkeys for a large gathering, this would mess up my timing as I would use charts that would have the roasting time increase with the bird's size.  I would plan to be pulling the turkey out of the oven in 6 hours only to have it be ready two hours before we were ready to sit down and eat!

Use the best ingredients you can.  Pay the extra dollars for that pasture-raised turkey and nitrate-free organic bacon.  Use fresh herbs or the most pungent dried herbs available.  Use sea salt (not table salt) and buy fresh organic vegetables and butter and cream from pasture-raised cows.  This will all pay off in the final taste and quality of your meal.  It also provides optimum healing power. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Season--  Rub the inside of a ready to cook 12 lb. turkey with 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper.  (Increase quantities for a larger bird.)

Stuff and truss-- Stuff the body and neck cavity with your favorite stuffing recipe.  Truss the legs and wings close to the body.

Fatten up-- Rub the turkey's skin with 1/2 cup of butter and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a little pepper.  Place breast up in a shallow roasting pan and arrange 2 slices of bacon over the breast. (Note: I find that using an old fashioned enameled roasting pan rather than the store-bought aluminum disposable pans makes for tastier pan drippings and better "scraps" (you know those wonderful caramelized bits that stick to the bottom of the pan that make the gravy taste magnificent?)  Place 2 slices of antibiotic, hormone and nitrate-free bacon on top of the turkey breast.

Flavor up-- Add to the roasting pan: 2 cups water, 1 onion stuck with 3 cloves, 1 stalk celery, 2 carrots, 2 bay leaves, 5 sprigs fresh parsley and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.

Roast-- Cook the turkey in the oven 10-20 minutes per lb. (3 1/2 - 4 hours) or until rich and evenly brown, basting every 30 minutes with the drippings in the pan.

And finally, I have found over the years that this gravy recipe usually gets raves:

Madeira Cream Sauce

Make stock-- While cooking the turkey, make a stock using the neck and, if you prefer, the giblets.  (Add an onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and black pepper and salt to the water to boil and then simmer for several hours.  Cook down until you have several cups of  highly flavored broth. Pour the broth through a sieve.

Skim and deglaze--  Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and skim the fat from the turkey drippings.  Add 1 cup Madeira wine to the pan and deglaze over high heat.  Add the stock  and raise the heat to high.

Thicken-- Add 3/4 cup heavy organic or raw organic cream.  Immediately add 4 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in 1/4 cup of cold water.

Simmer for 5 minutes or until the gravy is thickened.  Add additional arrowroot if necessary.

Adjust seasonings--  Add sea salt and white pepper as needed.   You may also finely chop fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme to sprinkle over the gravy (remember there is a lot of healing power in herbs).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Better Than Caramel Apples!

Chilled Apple Slices with Peanut Butter Shell (gluten-free and sugar-free)

If you live in apple country, you're probably experiencing the same anxiety I feel as I see the apples dropping wasted to the ground.  Unfortunately, the fear of biting into a worm keeps most kids from biting into a homegrown apple.  

Here's a great apple snack that let's you slice up your homegrown apples (and slice out any unwanted spots or pests).  It takes advantage of the natural sweetness of fresh local apples and pairs it with the saltiness of peanut butter.

The hard coating makes it a great finger food snack. Be prepared to make to make seconds and thirds, as these healthy snacks disappear quickly.

This snack is so good, that, for those without an apple tree, rush to your farmers' market or apple stand and stock up while local apples are at their delicious peak.

Apple Slices with Peanut  Butter Hard Shell
Gluten-free and Sugar-free

100 grams Cocoa Butter
1/2  cup very chunky peanut butter
4 apples, sliced into wedges
Salt to taste

Melt the cocoa butter and peanut butter over in a double boiler over medium heat.  Stir occasionally to mix.  When thoroughly melted and blended, remove from heat and allow to cool  until it reaches the consistency of warm peanut butter.  Place apples into the sauce and stir to coat all sides.  Remove slices and place on a tray covered with wax paper or parchment paper.  Refrigerate until the coating hardens.  Serve.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting get a gluten-free anti-inflammation make-over

I am a big fan of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.  Her food is delicious and I love how much she takes pleasure in the shopping, preparing, eating and sharing of food.  Ina just seems to have a beat on finding great American favorites and making them their very best. In fact, I just love everything about her.

However, we’re all about healthy eating here, preventing disease and managing inflammation.  Sometimes, Ina uses ingredients that are on our “avoid” list.  That does not stop us from using her delicious recipes and giving them a healing makeover. .  Like these tasty chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting--we love Ina’s version, but we’ve adapted it to make it healthier.  As always, our goal in making over any recipe is to create something that resembles the original as closely as possible.  We think we’ve got a pretty good approximation here.

We’ve used gluten-free flour, replaced the sugar with our favorite low-glycemic sweeteners and swapped out the inflammatory cow’s milk sour cream and buttermilk for yogurt.  In our version, we use home-made kefir from raw cow’s milk, but you can substitute goat, coconut or almond yogurt.  All these options are anti-inflammation.  By the way, there’s butter in the frosting, but many of the inflammatory agents are removed in making butter, which is mostly only milk fat, so go ahead and enjoy.  Just make sure you are using butter from pasture-raised cows so you get all the inflammation reducing omega-3s.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

16 tablespoons (or 2 sticks) unsalted organic butter from pasture-raised cows at room temperature*
1 cup coconut crystals
2 tablespoons powdered stevia (Trader Joe's powdered stevia)
2 extra-large eggs plus 1 egg yolk from pasture-raised chickens at room temperature*
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup yogurt (use organic goats milk or homemade yogurt from raw milk)**
1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 cup canned heavy coconut milk
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cup gluten-free multi-purpose flour by King Arthur
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup organic peanut butter smooth
5 tablespoons organic butter from pasture-raised cows at room temperature
3/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon stevia
1/4 cup coconut crystals
2 tablespoons yogurt (use organic goats milk or homemade yogurt from raw milk)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
chopped peanuts

1)  Make the cupcakes:  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle blade, cream the butter, coconut crystals and steva.  Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture is creamy.  In a separate bowl stir together the yogurt, almond milk, coconut milk and coffee.  In one more bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, xanthan, baking soda and sea salt.  On low speed, add the yogurt mixture and flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl beginning with the yogurt mixture.  Mix only until blended scraping sides with a rubber spatula to check that entire mixture is blended.

Divide the mixture between cupcake pans (using a standard rounded ice cream scoop filled full to the top but not overflowing).  Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for ten minutes and remove from pans.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

2)  Make the frosting:  In the bowl of a mixer, use a paddle blade to combine the peanut butter and butter.  Add in the vanilla, stevia, coconut crystals, yogurt and salt. Turn beater to high and whip for a minute until mixture is fluffy and creamy.

3) Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle chopped peanuts on top.

*pasture raised is higher in omega-3s which increases the anti-inflammatory properties
**these are anti-inflammatory dairy options

Friday, June 19, 2015

They're back! Farmer's Market Tomatoes

Small organic tomatoes I purchased yesterday.  

Yesterday I arrived at my local Tahoe City farmer's market just as it was closing.  I was delighted to see the first of the summer tomatoes were in.  They were small, but as it turned out later, tasty.  I grabbed a bagful and began planning dinner.

In a few weeks we'll have these! (Photo from last year's market.)  
And these!  (Also from last year.)

Chicken Penne Pasta with Sage Wine Sauce and Summer Tomatoes (Low Gluten)

1 large organic chicken breast with skin and bones
1-2 T olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 T butter from grass fed cows (anti-inflammatory when it's from grass fed cows)
2 T chopped shallots
2 T einkorn flour (low gluten)
1/3 c white wine
2 c chicken broth or more
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 8 oz. pkg. quinoa penne pasta (gluten-free--I used Ancient Harvest brand)
2 c chopped fresh summer tomatoes
1 T fresh sage minced
2 green onions sliced

1)  Roast the chicken:  Place the chicken on a baking dish, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the sea salt and cracked black pepper.  Roast in the oven at 350 degrees until just done, about 35 minutes.  When chicken is done, remove the chicken from the bone and cut into bite-sized pieces.

2)  Make the sauce:  In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add in the shallots sauteing gently for a minute or two until the shallots are softening.  Stir in the einkorn flour and keep stirring for a minute while the mixture thickens.  Add in the wine and keep stirring.  Add in the chicken broth and keep stirring for several minutes.  If mixture is too thick, add additional broth.  Season with the white pepper, sea salt and dried sage.

3) Make the pasta:  Follow package directions to make the penne.  When penne is cooked, drain and pour into a serving bowl.  Stir in the chicken and the sauce.  Top with the tomatoes, fresh sage and green onions.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pork and Beans gets a Makeover

BBQ... America loves it.  And what's our favorite side dish?  Why pork and beans, of course.

Many of us eat pork and beans right out of the can, or perhaps even a gussied-up canned version. And that's probably exactly what you get, even in many restaurants.  Let's face it, even though we may like them, canned pork and beans has some ingredients that are, well, not the best for our health.

But pork and beans does contain at least one ultra-healthy food-- beans--which makes it a potentially healthy dish.  We thought it would be worth tweaking this beloved American favorite to up the health factor and lower the processed food factor.  Out with the bad and in the with the great tasting, good-for-your body, inflammation-fighting, healthy stuff.

Actually, it's not the can that's the enemy.  In fact, for convenience, this recipe remake starts with canned white beans*. The enemy is the preservatives, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates and pesticides you find in the ready-made canned pork and beans.  So here's our cleaned up version, and by the way, it tastes great.

*If you're a purist and have the time, you could certainly start totally from scratch and make your white beans from dry beans.

Pork and Beans

2 16 ounce cans organic white beans (or make your own from dry beans)
1 T Dijon
1/4 t turmeric
1 t apple cider vinegar
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 c homemade ketchup see here
2 T coconut palm sugar
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 small-medium organic onion chopped medium fine
1/2 organic green bell pepper chopped fine
6 slices nitrate and antibiotic free uncured bacon  (or, if  you can used uncured organic turkey bacon with no nitrates, but it real pork bacon tastes better!)

Rinse the beans thoroughly, drain them and put them in a dutch oven or pyrex dish.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the bacon, to the beans and mix together.  If you want your beans to be extra saucy, add more catsup and worcestershire.  Place the bacon strips over the beans in a basketweave pattern (see photo).  Bake the beans at 400 degrees for an hour.  If the bacon looks like it needs a little more browning, put the oven on broil and leave the pan in for another 5 minutes.  Do not overcook or the beans will become dry.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Saffron and Squirrels

I've become a squirrel.  From where I sit at my computer, I look out my upstairs window into the branches of a mature pine tree filled with charming Sierra squirrels.  I watch all late summer and fall as they work busily, collecting their winter stash and hiding this treasures throughout my garden, digging in my beds and pots, uprooting my summer annuals in order to stuff in their little hoards.  I always wonder if they'll ever really remember to come back later to collect up whatever it is they've cached away.

And so it is with me, the squirrel.  I've discovered forgotten treasure.  

This week I've been cleaning the top shelf in my spice cabinet.  Yes, I have actually devoted the entire cabinet next to my stove to spices.  They are all on graduated racks and alphabetized.  I admit this sounds a little crazy, but I'm not obsessively organized anywhere else in my life,  I'm just a cook. After all, your cooking is only as good as your ingredients and if you can't find what you need, you might as well not have it.  

So I keep my spices perfectly tidy.  At least, all except the top shelf.  Up there, where I can't reach or see, is where I stow my hoard...apparently.

In my cleaning I reached back into the dark corners of the shelf and retrieved out a long ignored large plastic jar with a screw top lid.  Oops, was my immediate thought the moment I saw it. 

My sister travelled to Egypt a few years ago and brought me back a collection of wonderful fresh spices including lots of beautiful saffron.  She generously brought me a quantity of saffron that seemed like an impossible luxury. An indulgent large baggy full.  I remember at the time thinking how wonderful it will be to lavish it heavily into soups, stews and everyday meals. But somehow this treasure got stuffed into the back of the cabinet where it has remained ever since. I'm ashamed--what kind of a cook does this?

I found five bags of saffron just like this one!

How often in life do we save our best and ultimately never get to use it.  I feel just like that great old auntie who dies never using her wedding china because she was always saving it for "good".  Don't we deserve the best in our everyday lives? 

Well, I may be late to the party, but I sure won't let my self miss it.  I'm cooking with saffron now!  

So here is my recipe for...

Saffron Shrimp and Chickpea Soup

olive oil
2 sweet onions chopped
2 cups celery chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 32 oz box organic chicken broth
several pinches of saffron as affordable (the more the better!)
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried oregano
1/4 t fennel seeds
1/4 t celery seeds
1/4 t turmeric
1/4 t ground coriander
generous freshly ground quality sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
new potatoes  about 10 small potatoes cut in halves or quarters
4 big handfuls of kale
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 lb frozen shelled shrimp

Get out a soup pot and pour several tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom, bringing the heat to medium.  Saute the onions and celery until translucent.  Add the broth, garlic, saffron, thyme, oregano, fennel celery turmeric, coriander, salt, pepper and potatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add the kale and garbanzo beans and cook for another 10 minutes.  When the potatoes are tender, add the shrimp and cook until pink and done.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What are you going to put your hummus on?

Unfortunately, if your diet is paleo, low carb, gluten-free or anti-inflammation, you might be finding it difficult to find good cracker options.

Problem solved.  This is a really good homemade cracker.  But most importantly, it has something that a lot of "paleo" and gluten-free crackers don't.  It's been carefully crafted to have special healing factors.  We've added two seed meals, one spice and three herbs that are highly anti-inflammatory.

Fresh rosemary!

And yet, did I say, that this is a really good homemade cracker?  Really, really good?

Inflammation is at the root of many of the diseases plaguing us modern folk (see the blue box below for a list of diseases linked to inflammation).  Plus, who wants to live an inflamed life anyway?  Puffy, overweight, brain-fogged, tired and unhealthy?  Not for us!
By the way, eczema is an inflammatory disease.   If you're working to heal eczema, you'll want to see the EatRx Healing Guide to Eczema.  In addition to everything you could possibly ever want to know about eczema (and a bunch of stuff your doctor simply does not have time to explain to you), it has our anti-inflammation diet plus our list of Top 40 Anti-inflammatory foods and our list of Top 40 Anti-eczema foods. These are lists created by our Deep Web search engine, RxExplorer, which has been creating a cutting-edge library of information on phytonutrients.  
Anyway, if you have fresh herbs, all the better.  I used fresh rosemary and oregano, but dried thyme, only because I live in the mountains and the weather just hasn't been quite warm enough yet to get my thyme up and happy.  My rosemary plant came indoors for the winter.  Poor thing, I pinch so much anti-inflammation rosemary off each week that it has a hard time keeping up with the demand.

One last thought...if you eat paleo or low carb, you may sometimes miss that full belly carb feel. These crackers are a way to fill up your tummy and get that feeling without piling up the carb count. They are low carb but they taste and feel like carbs, sort of low carb carbs, if you get my meaning.

Sunflower, Pepita and Rosemary Crackers

On a gluten-free diet, where are you going to put that hummus? Right here on a crispy delicious rosemary and seed cracker. We've optimized this recipe with anti-inflammatory herbs, cracked black pepper and anti-eczema seeds.

dry ingredients:
1 c almond meal
1/4-1/3 c coconut flour*
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c pepita pumpkin seeds
2 t arrowroot
1 t freshly ground sea salt**
1 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper**
1 T  fresh rosemary chopped fine
1/2 t dried thyme or 1 t fresh chopped fine
1/2 t dried oregano or 1 t fresh chopped fine

wet ingredients:
3 T olive oil
2 eggs from pasture-raised chickens whisked

Grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Add all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil and eggs and stir all ingredients together.

Place the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out with a rolling pin to about 1/8" thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper, and using a pizza-cutting wheel, cut the dough into cracker shapes. Move the parchment paper with crackers intact onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 16-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

*We find that the amount of absorbency varies from brand to brand with coconut flour. Start with the lower amount and add more if your dough is too sticky.

**Tip:  Do grind your own high quality sea salt and black pepper.  This is what gives the crackers their pizazz!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Sugar-free Remake for Ketchup

If you're careful about your health, you may be watching your sugar intake. Of course, that does not mean that you would prefer to eat boring foods.

We've worked hard to develop healing recipes that are also delicious tasting. And when it comes to American staples, we are always working on developing gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy free versions that taste as closely as possible to the original.

We're especially concerned about kids on restricted diets, like kids with diabetes or kids with eczema. We want them to feel like they have normal lives. Everybody should be able to eat a hamburger with the rest of the crowd.

So, here's our recipe for ketchup. We think you'll find it tastes pretty much like the real thing but without the sugar, preservatives and chemicals.  And, by the way, we've tossed in a number of anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to up the healing factor for everyone.

Homemade Sugar-free Ketchup

6 oz tomato paste organic
15 oz can tomato sauce organic
15 oz can filled with  water
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
1/3 c onion chopped
1 T Coconut Nectar
1 t stevia
1 T ginger chopped fine
1/8 t fennel seeds
1/8 t celery seeds
1/8 t coriander ground
dash cloves
1 t sea salt
1/2 t ground pepper to taste

Bring all the ingredients to a slow simmer in pot.  Continue to simmer for 20 minutes. When the onions and ginger are softened, run the ketchup through a blender or food processor to puree. Keep the ketchup in the refrigerator.  If ketchup is too thick, add a little water for proper consistency.

Okay--so that's your version for kids and it pretty well mimics store-bought ketchup brands.  If you want a spicier version, add 2 T lemon juice, an additional 2 t pepper and 4 tiny pinches of cayenne to the recipe. Let's see if that livens up your evening!  (I actually split the batch in half and bottled up each of the two versions, one regular and one "lively".)  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Gluten-free zucchini pancakes that are more than yummy... they help you fight eczema, too.

I love zucchini pancakes but I'm learning to look at food as medicine.  There's so much more going on in that innocent squash than most of us ever stop and think about.

Zucchini and Phytonutrients--  Recently, our brand new phytonutrient data library at EatRx has been coming together and we think it's kinda mind-blowing!  We are developing the world's largest biochemical and molecular library. We've just completed a major input and search for phytonutrient information which, up until now, has been scattered throughout the web and in partial collections in ethno botanical reference books around the world.

We've collected massive amounts of phytonutrient data,  We now have detailed information on over 2400 plants, such as zucchini (these plants are all edible or can be used for other healing purposes).  We know which among over 7500 phytonutrients they each contain, and what the activities of those phytonutrients are. Examples of nutrient activities are thing like anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-hypertensive, etc. There are over 1000 catalogued activities and most phytonutrients have between 50 and 100 different activities, many of which are healing for the human body.  It's a real WOW.

How this helps you fight eczema--  This new library is allowing us to do some really exciting things. One of those, is that we've created a list of eczema healing foods. In our new eczema report, we've listed the Top 40 Foods that contain phytonutrients with anti-eczema properties.  Zucchini is a food from that Top 40 list.  (If you're interested in learning about our eczema report, available now,  click here.)  There are some surprising foods in this Top 40 list but the number one food is the biggest surprise of all--my lips are sealed...if you want to know, go see the report.

For all you gardeners, here's a new way to look at those monster zucchini crops you end up with each've got yourself a powerful eczema healer.  Who knew?

By the way, we also have developed a list of the Top 40 Anti-Inflammation Foods. Every food on this list has between 19 and 37 phytonutrients with anti-inflammation activities. This is not the list you're used to seeing. You won't see pomegranate, acai berries and kale. This list is built on science, fact and complex computer algorithms. No nutritionist or doctor could build it, even with a powerful computer and a big staff. It has literally taken years of work to develop RxExplorer, the EatRx Deep Web search engine, which is capable of collecting, sorting and matching data on this level.
The Top 40 Anti-Inflammation list is making me completely change the way I look at cooking. Since inflammation is the source of most of the world's diseases, it's really something everyone should see. Our anti-inflammation report will be available in a few weeks.
Now, about those pancakes--  I've always really loved zucchini pancakes.  They taste great and they are easy to make. I like that they work for breakfast, but are also great for any meal.  And, of course, now I love how healing they really are.

For breakfast, just top them up with some sugar-free jam, smashed berries or homemade applesauce. You can also make a raspberry sauce by pureeing fresh raspberries, running them through a strainer and then sweetening them with a little stevia or Coconut Nectar.

Zucchini pancakes are also delicious savory for lunch or dinner. For lunch, they can be the main show with a salad on the side.  For dinner, they make a great side dish.

2 zucchini grated
3 eggs whisked
1-3 T coconut flour (as needed to soak up extra liquid)
sea salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 dried thyme
1/4 dried marjoram
coconut oil

Optional: fine chopped onions or shallots (nice with savory pancakes you might serve for lunch or dinner)

Note:  You can allow the grated zucchini to sit for a while in a bowl or colander and then drain away the extra liquid that collects.  But, if you're making these for breakfast and time is short, just add in coconut flour until the liquid is mostly absorbed.  Start with 1 T and add more as needed.  You may find that if you are cooking the pancakes in batches, you need to add more flour between batches.

Mix together all the ingredients except the coconut oil.   In a large frying pan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  Drop the pancake batter into the pan in spoonfuls of about 3-4" in diameter.

Allow the bottoms to cook and get golden.  Then flip the pancakes to the other side.  When both sides are golden and interiors are cooked through, remove the pancakes and serve.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Church Potluck

Sometimes you're asked to bring a dish to help feed a crowd.  What can you bring that the crowd will enjoy but that is also healthy for everyone?

I like this asparagus vermicelli salad recipe,  It's an updated version of an old favorite.  It's gluten free and there are lots of anti-inflation herbs and onions.

Vermicelli Salad

2 pkg quinoa spaghetti cooked according to package directions, drained and run under cold water to cool and cut into 2" strands
1 large bunch slim asparagus, cooked, drained, run under cold water and cut into 1" pieces
1 bunch green onions sliced very thin
1 1/2 cups flat leaf parsley chopped fine
1 T fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1 cup Cucini Bold Parmesan and Garlic Salad Dressing  (I chose it because it is soy oil free)
1 cup Best Foods Canola mayonnaise or any other soy free mayo (I prefer our homemade flax oil mayonnaise for extra anti-inflation omega-3s)
1/8 t onion salt
1/8 t garlic salt
1 T fresh thyme
2 t dried Italian herbs
4 T fine minced fresh shallot
1 t lemon pepper
1 t sea salt (or more to taste)

Make the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients together.  In a large serving bowl, using tongs, mix the pasta and the vinaigrette together.   Set aside a few tablespoons of parsley and green onions.  Gently add the asparagus, green onions and flat leaf parsley to the spaghetti mixture.  sprinkle the extra green onions and parsley on top.  Grate fresh parmesan over the top.  (If you are dairy free, just skip the cheese.  )

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Roasted Bell Pepper it the yummiest soup?

Bell Peppers Photographed at the Tahoe City Farmer's Market

Roasted red bell pepper soup has always been a favorite of mine.  Just saying..

Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

1 onion chopped
olive oil
3 roasted bell peppers (see Chef Hallie video how to, below)
4 cups chicken broth
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 t dried thyme
1 T balsamic vinegar
gluten-free croutons (I used Aleia's brand.  You can also make your own.)

Put the olive oil in a soup pot and set the heat to medium.  Add the onion and saute until translucent and softened.  Add the roasted bell peppers, the thyme and the chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and balsamic.  Serve with gluten-free croutons.

To make your own gluten-free croutons, saute cut up pieces of gluten-free bread in a little olive oil, sea salt, pepper and Italian herbs.  When croutons are golden and crispy, remove from stove and serve.

You can always stir a little organic cream into this soup if you care to.  I like mine the plain old anti-inflammatory dairy-free way for any regular night at home.  But if I have guests to dinner, I'll splurge on the cream.

Chef Hallie Demonstrates How to Roast Bell Peppers

Saturday, April 18, 2015

About Canola Oil

There's a lot of confusion about canola oil.  Is it healthy or not?

Some oils are definitely health promoting.  Oils such as flax and walnut which are high in omega-3's are powerful inflammation fighters.  We also like butter and ghee from pasture raised cows for their omega-3 benefits.  

Olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and avocado oil are also healthy choices.  

Then there are the unhealthy oils such as corn, soy, cottonseed,sunflower, safflower and mixed vegetable oils.  These are all high in omega-6s and create inflammation in the body.  

Where does canola oil fit in?  Well, some forms of canola are unhealthy and others are okay, although not exceptionally health-promoting.  Canola oil is 21% omega 6 and 11 % omega 3 so although it falls within the accepted ratios (for anti-inflammation, oils should be 2-1 or 1-1), it is not particularly healing like flax oil which is 18% omega 6 and a whopping 57% omega 3.  

However, canola has some benefits for the cook.  We like it for times when a tasteless oil is preferred, such as in mayonnaise.  It's probably best not to use it frequently, but instead, pull it out of the cupboard when you're making a special dish that will benefit from its quiet taste.

Don't just buy any canola oil, however.  Some versions are not good for you.

The only acceptable version of canola is organic expeller pressed canola, but only when used in food preparation without heat.

Heating causes oxidation and oxidation creates inflammation in the body. Expeller pressed oil is removed from its nut or seed source by a screw press machine, without the harsh chemicals used in other methods.  This process can generate heat, however, which causes oxidation, so it is important to buy oil that is cold-pressed, in a temperature controlled environment.  

What's wrong with regular supermarket canola oil?  Regular canola oil goes through the process of caustic refining, bleaching and degumming, which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety.  Canola is high in omega-3 fatty acids which easily become rancid and foul smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures so it is then deodorized, a process which removes a lot of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids cause inflammation.

Because canola goes rancid easily, keep it in the refrigerator along with your walnut, sesame and flax oils.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's Still Asparagus Season

Still loving asparagus!  There's just about another month left in asparagus season, so be sure to get them while they're at their best.

If you're in California, you can find them at your local farmer's market this time of year.

As always, this recipe is maximized for anti-inflammation healing!

Asparagus with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

1 large shallot minced
2 T sherry vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t Coconut Nectar
1/3 c flax oil  (high in omega-3s)
1/4 c toasted hazelnuts, skinned and chopped
1 hard boiled egg (from a grass-fed chicken to increase omega-3s)
2 lbs of asparagus with coarse bottoms snapped off

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the shallot, vinegar, Dijon, Coconut Nectar and flax oil.  Toast the hazelnuts in a 400 degree oven.  Remove and rub the hazelnuts briskly in a tea towel to remove skins.  Chop the nuts.  Chop the hard boiled egg.  Drop the asparagus into boiling water and cook until just barely done, or crisp/tender.  Remove the asparagus from the heat and place on a platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette and top with chopped eggs and hazelnuts.  Serve the dish warm or at room temperature.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Humming and Rosemary Tea

We're having an early pollen season here in California, because of the drought.  My naturopath tells me her practice is flooded with people struggling with histamine overload.

I was feeling it a bit too, until I drank a cup of rosemary tea the other day and noticed that all my sinus symptoms disappeared right away.

Wow, that was amazing.  How often in life do you experience immediate healing like that?  It got me interested in doing a little research on rosemary and histamines.

Sure enough, rosemary is recommended as a natural anti-histamine. You can drink it in tea as I did. Just bring a pot of fresh clean water to boil, stick a sprig of fresh rosemary in, let it boil for awhile and turn the flame off to let the rosemary steep in the hot water. You can drink 3 cups a day of rosemary tea as needed.  (Avoid rosemary if you are pregnant because it stimulates the uterus.)

Of course, rosemary is also a natural anti-inflammatant, as are all the dark green herbs.  I keep a pot of it growing and move it inside to a sunny window during the winter.  It's become my habit to keep several important herbs growing in pots (in my limited sunny window space) for both culinary and healing purposes.  Now that the weather is nice, these pots will soon be living in my garden.

Oregano, chamomile and peppermint also make great anti-histamine teas.  For maximum healing, don't mix them together, just steep them one at a time and rotate them throughout your week.  And remember you want to use fresh live herbs.

What about the humming, you may be wondering.  Oh, yeah.  In my travels around the web this morning I ran across an article on PubMed showing that humming for an hour a day for four days can cure nasal infection.

The world is a funny place!   I haven't hummed in years.  Maybe that's my problem.  I say up with humming!

Now my only problem is...what to hum?

If like me, you're stymied at the thought of humming, how about a little structure and guidance with a professional coach:

Or you might want to try Puccini's humming chorus from Madama Butterfly....

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Potato Chip Salad with Spring Asparagus

Salad Series for Anti-Inflammation

Inflammation is linked to many of the most serious diseases.  I don't know about you, but I take something like that seriously.  If I can eat foods that promote health, but in delicious and beautiful combinations, then I'm all for it!

Healing and preventing inflammation means upping your fruit and veggie intake.  I try to get at least 5 cups of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.

Also, the more variety, the better.  I aim for a minimum of 9 different varieties each day.  If that seems overwhelming to you, think in terms of salads. It's easy to get 5 or so different fruits and veggies in one simple salad recipe.  If you have a fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, a fruit or veggie at afternoon snack time, two veggie side dishes at dinner and fruit for dessert, you've made your 9.  And if you add another salad at dinner time, you're really boosting your total.*

I didn't always enjoy salad, but now I really do.  I like to add a little something hearty to many of mine. Sometimes I'll fry up homemade croutons in olive oil or use nuts if my salads are meat-free.  It gives you something to chew on and enjoy besides just vegetables.

Another options is potatoes.  Over the years, I've found that adding a little potato helps keep your tummy full between lunch and dinner.  I've added cubed leftover baked potatoes and sauteed them in olive oil, salt and pepper to use as "potato croutons".  I've added boiled new potatoes tossed in olive oil and rosemary.  I've made potato pancakes and used those to top salads.  But until now, I've never tried potato chips.

I think I'm onto something with this idea!

Homemade Potato Chip Salad with Spring Asparagus

olive oil
sea salt fresh ground to taste
black pepper fresh ground to taste
1 hard boiled egg per person, peeled and sliced in half
4 asparagus stalks per person, just cooked until tender
cucumber sliced
5 green olives pit removed (mine were stuffed with almonds)
salad greens (I used an herb mix)

1 egg yolk raw (use an egg from a pasture-raised chicken to increase anti-inflammatory omega-3s)
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 t Dijon mustard
3 T flax oil (a fantastic source of omega-3s
5-6 T olive oil  (or use more flax oil if you prefer)
1/4 t each sea salt and white pepper or more to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Get out a cookie sheet and using a pastry brush, cover it with a light coating of olive oil.  Slice the potatoes thin and spread them out to cover the sheet.  Dab olive oil with the pastry brush on each potato slice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes have color and look ready to eat.

Make the mayonnaise topping. Add the egg, lemon and Dijon to the bowl of a food processor and process.  Drizzle in the oils drip by drip while blade is running.  Add the salt and pepper.

Layer each plate with salad greens,  asparagus, cucumber, eggs olives and potato chips.  Dollop the homemade mayonnaise over the top.  OR...throw it all in a bowl and toss,,

*More on getting at least 9 fruits and veggies a day.  Of course, even more is better.  Here's an example of what I might call a really good fruit and veggie day.  I'd start the morning with a Super Green Smoothie (6+ right off the bat), have a salad for lunch (5), yogurt plus fruit mid-afternoon (1), a side vegetable (1) and another salad (4) with a protein or grain for dinner and fruit for dessert (1). Grand total = 18+.   As alternatives, soups and stews are wonderful ways to pack even more vegetables into meals, and some of my favorite foods.  .

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mulligatawny gets a Makeover

I've made mulligatawny soup ever since I was a newlywed.  My original recipe from Bon Appetit magazine has always been a long drawn-out affair starting with a whole raw chicken and ending with a cup of whipping cream.  It's really delicious, see here.  

Mulligatawny is a classic Anglo-Indian soup, the name of which means "pepper-water".  Something I read recently makes me think that there may originally have been a strictly vegetarian Indian version of this soup.  However, that is not the version I love.  The one I love has definitely been Anglicized. It is filled with chicken, sweetened with apples and thickened with cream.

This week I decided to see if I could adapt the recipe to make it easier to make and a little more healing. The result is a soup that makes up quickly and tastes delicious.

Since I didn't have the two made up versions side by side to taste test, I couldn't compare them.  I do know that the original recipe was much more layered with flavors.  However, anyone can easily make up the new adapted recipe and will find it utterly enjoyable to eat.

This soup takes an hour or so to cook up, but I find that this is the kind of cooking that takes a little attention, but then allows you to tackle your email between steps.

A simple Mulligatawny

This Mulligatawny is a simple, mild flavored version of the original spicy soup.  If you prefer stronger flavors, add lemon, cayenne pepper and curry powder to taste.

4 T coconut oil
2 lg onions chopped medium fine
1 1/2 c celery chopped medium fine
3 carrots sliced thin
4 t curry powder (or more to taste)
32 oz organic chicken broth
1/2 c uncooked rice
3 apples peeled and cored (the original recipe called for tart Granny Smiths but I used sweet red apples here)
1/2 t thyme
1 t salt
1/2 t white pepper
4 raw organic boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
1 c thick canned coconut milk

Melt the coconut oil in a soup pot and bring the heat to medium.  Add the onions, celery and carrots and saute, stirring occasionally for twenty minutes or so until vegetables are softened.  Add the curry powder, chicken broth, rice, apples, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cover the pan and cook until rice is done, stirring occasionally.  Add the chicken pieces and cook until chicken is done, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the coconut milk and serve.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hunting and Gathering in California's Farm Land

Road Trip

California driving-- In California, once you get outside of the major cities,  you'll find roadside farm stands almost anyplace you go.  After all, most of the state is devoted to agriculture.

Last week my sister and I were in Southern California and we decided to take a leisurely drive home in a somewhat northward vector.  After a wonderful lunch with old friends at a charming outdoor Pasadena restaurant, we hit the freeways.

Yipes!  Traffic...let's get off these freeways.

From LA we selected an alternate route down a little known highway (126 out of Santa Clarita) that took us through a beautiful interior valley, Santa Clara River Valley.  This scenic valley is planted virtually wall to wall with picturesque orange and avocado groves.  It's pretty much undeveloped other than by ranchers and farmers, and looks like pictures you see of Southern California from the 20's and 30's.

Santa Clara River Valley, absolutely stunning this time of year.  
As the miles flew by, this was the direct view we had our the car window...row upon row of orange trees bearing fruit.

Oh, oh!  Detour, emergency U-turn.  We just passed a roadside farm stand!

And what did we find there?

Only the best oranges we can remember tasting in years, above.  We bought a box full. Later, at home, our kids ate them all up.  Lickety split! 

And lemons...

Gorgeous bright yellow lemons.  We bought a box of these, too.  And we made our mother use them to bake our favorite lemon meringue pie for Easter Sunday. 

The group voted.  This was not to be a gluten-free, sugar-free pie!

What else did we buy?

Tangelos, and this caused some regret.  We only bought half a dozen of these, to discover later that they were fabulous.  We should have bought a box!

Once we were deep into the valley we detoured through Ojai (a beautiful old Spanish Rancho town) on the road to Santa Barbara,

Ojai was originally a dry air health haven built in the 1880's for East Coasters who wanted to escape the cold winters and take "the cure".  Now it is well known for it's health spa, shopping, inns and restaurants.

What did we hunt and gather up in Ojai?

A good cup of cappuccino, of course, 

It was getting to be early evening by the time we left Ojai and we had a number of driving hours yet to do that night if we were to make it to Arroyo Grande on the Central Coast.  

The next morning we woke up on our cousin's beautiful ranch in a breathtaking interior valley near Arroyo Grande.  On the charming winding road into town, we passed many lovely ranches and small farms with organic gardens.  Early spring plantings were in full swing.  

Oh, oh...detour again.  Uturn!

We just passed a row of cottages with front yard farm gardens.  Each one was selling farm produce on the honors system.  

We bought free-range eggs from the first.  (And were able to verify the free-range aspect.  The hens were roaming around in the backyard.)

Right next door was a beautiful little artichoke patch.  You can see the farmer himself supervising his early morning watering in a big straw hat.  

We decided this artichoke patch was equally beautiful as a landscaping element!  

A little pile of artichokes waiting for takers. We bought them all.   

On the honors system.  You put your money in the plastic container with the red lid on the upper left of the photo.  
It's so important to connect the food we eat with it's original source.  Seeing the farms it comes from helps us all appreciate it so much more.  I'm grateful to live in a beautiful place with the bounty of California's farmland so closeby.