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Archive for the tag “gluten free”

Hunter-Gatherer Breakfast

The Paleo diet is getting substantial attention recently.  Not a weight-loss plan,  the Paleo (as in Paleolithic) diet is a choice of foods that harks back to simpler fare eaten up to 2 million years ago.  It is based on what was available then–meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds (no grains, simple carbs or processed foods)–well before farming and industry. Paleo followers and many nutritionists believe our bodies are better off when we eat like our Paleo ancestors did.  For more info on why, see below.  Here, adapted from the Primal Blueprint Reader-Created Cookbook (see http://www.marksdailyapple.com for this cookbook and more on Primal eating), are the easiest pancakes I’ve ever made…and they taste amazing.  They are grainless and flourless.  While the lemon souffle pancakes I shared in my previous post, “Coconut Oil–A New Staple in My Pantry,” are great too, these almond banana pancakes are simple, fast, delicious and paleo-healthful.

Makes 8-9 small pancakes

Banana Almond Pancakes

2 ripe bananas

1 egg, beaten

1 heaping T of almond butter

1/2 t cinnamon

1 T coconut oil

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl.  Mix well.  This is your batter.  Melt half of the coconut oil in a heated pan or pancake skillet over medium heat.  Spoon a tablespoon of batter per pancake.  Cook two to three minutes per side until golden brown.  Sliding the spatula quickly under each pancake  helps keep its round shape.  Repeat process for second half of batter.

Benefits of a Hunter-Gatherer Diet   Since 99.99% of our current genes existed before agriculture did, our bodies are almost identical to our hunter-gatherer ancestors.  For more than 2 million years the human diet consisted of lean game meat,  fruits and vegetables.  Humans haven’t had much time, evolutionarily speaking, to adapt to our current fatty, processed, high carb diet. It wasn’t until the invention of the agricultural industry that humans began ingesting large amounts of sugar and starch in the form of grains and potatoes.  We all know the complications that can ensue from eating processed foods and too many fats and sugars through carbs and sweets  including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  Believe it or not, according to Robb Wolf, author of  The Paleo Solution, current research also shows a link between Neolithic foods including grains, legumes and dairy and autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and many other conditions.  He adds that people have found significant improvements in autoimmune diseases by eliminating the Neolithic foods and adopting nutritious Paleo options.

According to Joseph Mercola, D.O, “while the human shift to agriculture produced indisputable gains for man — modern civilization is based on this epoch — societies where the transition from a primarily meat/vegetation diet to one high in cereals show a reduced lifespan and stature, increases in infant mortality and infectious disease, and higher nutritional deficiencies. We all need a certain amount of carbohydrates, of course, but, through our addiction to grains, potatoes, sweets and other starchy and sugary foods, we are consuming far too many. The body’s storage capacity for carbohydrates is quite limited, though, so here’s what happens to all the excess: they are converted, via insulin, into fat and stored in the adipose, or fatty, tissue.”

What to do?  There’s lots of info out there on the Paleo Diet if you are interested to learn more.  That way you can choose what you feel is best for you.  To start, check out several websites I have been following:  http://www.mercola.com; http://www.marksdailyapple.com; and http://robbwolf.com.


Fermished? Ferment.

Have you heard the news on fermented foods?  They are the latest health food trend…for a good reason.  Filled with probiotics, they replenish the beneficial intestinal bacteria needed for proper digestion, a robust immunity, and a body in balance.  The lactic acid fermented foods produce aids in the absorption of protein and minerals.  The good bacteria restores the intestinal flora that was plentiful in “the old days” when people regularly  ate traditional, whole foods diets and exposed themselves to bacteria on a regular basis.  In our modern, antiseptic world, consumption of antibiotics and our decreased natural exposure to bacteria has left our gastrointestinal systems depleted.  Restoring probiotics can have long-term benefits  including the prevention or reduction of colon cancer, lactose intolerance and rotavirus diarrhea, dental cavities, and inflammatory bowel disease.  Foods with probiotics include some yogurts, kefir, raw milk and cheese, sauerkraut, kim chee, pickled veggies (including pickles), miso, and even sourdough bread.

Some of these foods found in the supermarket are actually not fermented, but rather inferior imitations.  Steer clear of sauerkraut made with vinegar to get that sour, fermented taste and “yogurt” that is really a sugary pudding.    To speed the healing of my gluten-intolerant gastrointestinal system, I’m eating daily doses of probiotic foods including kefir in breakfast smoothies, raw cheese (from unpasteurized milk), and sauerkraut which I’m loving in salads, with meats, on turkey Reuben sandwiches, even on GF crackers with hummus or healthy dip.  I’ve just learned that sauerkraut, which has become a high-priced gourmet item, is easy to make.  I’ve been buying it, but this week I decided to try my own versions of several classic sauerkraut recipes I found on the web.  They’re fermenting as we speak.  I’ll let you know in two weeks how they turn out.  Meanwhile, you can experiment yourself if you are so inspired.

Whichever recipe and container set up you choose, the key is to keep the veggies submerged under the brine so that it is never exposed to air.  That protects it from growing mold and bad bacteria.  Here’s the classic:

Old Fashioned Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

5 Pounds Cabbage (about two heads, organic preferable)
3 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (unrefined)

First make sure that all dishes used for this project are very clean. You will need a crock or a large non-reactive bowl, such as the glass or ceramic, a plate that fits snugly inside and something to weigh the plate down such as a bowl or glass filled with water.

Shred cabbage in a food processor or slice thinly with a knife and place in the bowl or crock you will be fermenting in. Toss with the salt and cover with some kitchen towels. Leave for 15 minutes to an hour to allow the salt to draw out the juices of the cabbage.

Using your hands, firmly massage the cabbage to help break it down as you make it tight-fitting in the bowl. Place the clean plate on top and weigh it down with whatever you are using. Press down gently, but firmly. The liquid from the cabbage should rise to the top. You will want the liquid to cover the plate with room to spare within in 12-24 hours. If it hasn’t risen above the plate by that point, make up some salt water my mixing one cup of filtered water with one teaspoon of sea salt and use as much as you need. Cover with kitchen towels to protect it from flies and dust.

Each day you will remove the plate, and rinse it. If there is any “scum” on the surface of the water, remove as you much of it as you can with a spoon. Start tasting the sauerkraut after a few days. It will start to sour within a few days and will continue to “ripen” as the days go on. How quickly it ferments will depend on the temperature of your house. We like it after about ten days. Before that point, we just think it lack the depth of flavor we want.  You can stop the fermentation process when it tastes good to you.

When it’s fermented enough for your taste, Bottle it up in clean mason jars, and place in the refrigerator where it will keep for a long time.

Here are my twists on the classic in smaller batches:

1. Apple Dill Kraut  Following the recipe above, I cut it down to 1/4 of the amount using 1/2 head of red cabbage and 1 T sea salt.  I added 1 T chopped fresh dill and 1/2 of an apple peeled and chopped.  Look below left to see how I set up the container using a German glass jar with rubber rim and a small glass inside to push the kraut down and keep it submerged:

2. Radicchio Apple   I shredded a large head of radicchio, and 1 T sea salt.  I added 1/2 of an apple, peeled and chopped.  I set up this one using a Ball jar with a shot glass inside to push the kraut down and keep it submerged.  See below right for this contraption:

In Time for a GF Passover

In time for Passover, I am re-posting my alternative, gluten-free “matzoh” balls made from quinoa flakes.  Not only are they a light, fluffy take on the old classic, but they are higher in protein using quinoa rather than wheat flour.  Even if you aren’t gluten free, these could become your new favorite balls.  Enjoy and happy Passover!


Quinoa Souffle “Matzoh” Balls–This recipe is a gluten-free, updated twist on a fabulous gourmet matzoh ball recipe from Chef Jeff Nathan.

Makes approximately 12 balls

3 eggs separated

1/4 c canola oil

1 t Himalayan salt

1 t freshly ground pepper

1 t parsley, chopped

1 c quinoa flakes (These come in a box; available at Whole Foods and other specialty markets.)

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t xantham gum

1 t onion flakes, optional

Fill large pot with water and put over high heat to boil.  Meanwhile, mix yolks with oil, salt, pepper and parsley.  In a second bowl, whip egg  whites to soft peaks (not stiff, dry peaks). In third bowl, combine last four dry ingredients.  Stir yolks into dry ingredients.  Next, fold egg whites into “dough”.  Let dough sit 20 minutes.  Using a teaspoon, scoop dough and form into small balls about 1 1/2″ wide; they will expand as they boil.  Drop into boiling water.  Turn balls after a few minutes to be sure both sides are evenly cooked.  Boil for 20-25 minutes.  Add to your chicken soup.  Voila!

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