Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

As my love affair with all things spicy cools off, I have to find ways to live in between.  I am between my love of food relationship exploration and the need for it not to kill my stomach.  Creole food is one of those perplexing situations for me. About a year ago on a pinning spree I took on gumbo and LOVE it.  I love the earthy and fiery flavors with the simple base.  Recently, a more palatable version found my bowl as tweaking to remove shellfish allergy and reduce reflux triggers.  This reworking of a Creole icon reduces the spice, lowers fat content, and switches to a low acid tomato.   Make your shopping list, grab your pots, and find the zydeco music.  It’s time to channel that not so spicy but spiced up food encounter.

Gumbo/Stew

Ingredients and Prep

Roux

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour or all purpose gluten free flour

Gumbo

  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 tsp of Creole Seasoning (cayenne will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried parsley can be substituted)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1 lb of chicken cooked and diced
  •  oz of smoked turkey sausage (if you can handle the spicy go for chicken andouille sausage)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 9 ounces of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Optional add ins: crawfish or shellfish

Cooking

  1. Roux: this mystical beast is the wonderment base.  The key is to never leave it alone and constantly stir.
    • Heat skillet to medium heat then add in oil.  Gentle stir in flour with a whisk and keep stirring.  The goal is a medium to medium dark brown.  Once you reach the desired color, give your arm a break and head to step 2.
  2. Add in: garlic, red bell pepper, celery, and tomatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes
  3. Add in broth, meat, and spices
  4. Simmer on low for about an hour

How you address or dress this dish when it’s done is up to you.  The classic is with rice.  We went for corn polenta (pictured), but it’s up to you and any idea you dream of.  Classics like this have staying power as it carries tradition, memories, and iconic flavors.  It doesn’t mean you can’t mess around a little in your food relationship.

Namaste

Check out part two next week!

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Health Allergy Challenged Foodie: Handling Holiday Gatherings

You know who we are.  We are those who constantly ask what is in that and say we can’t eat that.  There was a time in my life where I had just the one food allergy. It was glorious.  Along the way I have built a nice collection of allergies that completely altered my diet, care routine, and trust.  It affects everything. And its nothing compared to my stepson who has bakers dozens of food and environmental allergies. Then we have intolerances of the ridiculous kind that might as well be allergies.  We are well stocked in antihistamines.

We DO NOT wish to be these people.

At Holiday functions we must be these people.  On Halloween our children will say thank you politely and bring their bags home to meticulously inspected.  It kinda sucks the fun out of it.  Except for parent taxes.  If you have food allergies then you are our people.  I have hard learned suggestions for those holiday gatherings for us.   If you do not have food allergies then having your meals picked apart is as annoying for you as us. Sorry. I have some hard learned suggestions on how to handle us in these gatherings.

 Holiday Gatherings with Food Allergies

For the food allergy people-

  1.  Ask. Ask. Ask and apologize once for inconvenience it might cause. It’s just being polite but not apologetic for doing what you must to survive.  Ask what is being served, if their are alternatives (don’t expect it), etc. You give kindness in your situation, usually your host reciprocates it.
  2. Plan ahead. When you can, bring food.  My bag, my kids’s bags, and travel bags have food that accommodate our allergies.  It is your and our responsibility to be sure you have what you need and work within your food issues, not someone’s else.  You can always ASK (see number one), but ultimately it is up to you.  Our families and friends are great at working with us.
  3. Be proactive and offer a dish or two that you know you can eat and share.  It is helpful to you and your host.
  4.  Get ingredient list and read labels. Ahead of time when possible and if available.
  5. Have a medical plan and supplies in case of an oops or emergency. Know where the nearest hospital is and be well stocked. Epi pens only buy you time and you may need more than one pen to make it.

For the non- food allergy people

  1.  Please do not be insulted by our questions.  We have to ask.  To survive.  It is not a reflection on your cooking skills (we haven’t eaten it yet) or hosting skills. I’m sure you are lovely.
  2. Please do not take offense if we bring food or offer to bring a dish.  We are trying to help you help us. It’s really awkward when we can’t eat anything or just the one thing.
  3. Please be gracious as our bruised ego has to be meticulous in ingredients.  We are trying not to use our number five.

A little goes a long way when our food allergy people are prepared and our non-food allergy people are accommodating.  It can be enjoyable with flexibility and understanding on both sides.

Namaste and Share for Foodies of All Types

Upcoming: tackling food icons and hoping not to completely %*#*! it up. Vegan hacks are not just for vegans. Then whatever inspiration is thrown at me. 🤣😜🙏

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part Two V/VEG, GF, DF, Lower Acid

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part Two V/VEG, GF, DF, Lower Acid

Simply because cannot take “no” for an answer- I had to find answer to this pasta dish and my every changing food life.  Largely because of the sauce.  So what’s wrong with the sauce? Puttenesca is a tomato sauce with a specific combinations of plants, veggies, and (most of time) anchovies.  I HATE anchovies. If I was desert and had a choice between those greasy, tiny fish and bugs.  I choose bugs. Then there is the acid factor in tomatoes.  With a few quick switch outs with some veggies, I have a delicious alternative.   I opted for campari tomatoes as they are sweeter with lower acid.  To reduce acid more, you can add in some carrot puree.  The tomatoes didn’t irritate my reflux.  Since the anchovies got to go- I went with capers to give that briny, salty taste.  Best part, is more concentrated veggies means more nutrition.  The instructions are for the sauce, your base is dealer’s choice. As complex carbs can help absorb stomach acid, I opted for a brown rice/ quinoa gluten free pasta but zoodles are just a good. 

Ingredients and Prep

  • 3 Garlic cloves, diced
  • Oregano 1 tablespoon dried
  • Olive Oil 1 tablespoon
  • Campari tomatoes, 16 oz, quartered
  • Green or black olives sliced (2.25 oz can or I eat a specific green type, about 10 olives)
  • Capers 1-2 tablespoons
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon of carrot pure

Cooking

  1. Put in diced garlic and olive oil and gentle stir for about 5-7 minutes on medium.
  2. Still on medium heat, place in diced tomatoes and oregano and cook until tomatoes have broken down plus a few minutes (25 minutes). In the last 5 minutes you can put in optional carrot puree to lower the pH level.  
  3. Put in olives and capers for additional ten minutes.  1 1/2 tablespoon of capers is enough for me. Start with 1 tablespoon and add to taste.  Do let it cook for a minute before adding. 

So what’s up with the letter’s in the title? As I began typing this recipe I realize how many dietary concerns this addresses. Basically it is a flag for whatever need you have.  Vegan- follow the V, no animal products were used in the making of this meal.  Vegetarian? VEG means no meats.  If you are gluten free, then GF.  Dairy free or watching the lactose? DF is for you because cow’s milk didn’t want to get involved.  This recipe is all of them with an low acidic conscious. Plus it’s an easy yum.  

My soul honors your soul’s individuality in your food relationship 

Namaste

Health Foodie: Teal Pumpkins and Candy Safety 👻 🎃

Health Foodie: Teal Pumpkins and Candy Safety 👻 🎃

From intolerances to “this could be an ER visit,” we are that allergy family.   We hit all of them.  Restaurants require research.  Dinners are a cultivated art of allergy free.  We meticulously plan for BBQs and get togethers.  Halloween is a search and find of labels and parental taxes.  We gotta get something out of preparing for the festivities, right?  Fortunately for the food allergy challenged, there are easy options.

  1. First things first.  Know your candy.  Know what your favorites are to negotiate taxes and know how to practice candy safety.  This means check packaging (sealed?), reading all labels (known allergies on it?), and if you’re not sure, trash it.
  2. Look for safe candies (free from top 8 allergies): DOTS, Ring Pop, Dum Dums, Skittles, Smarties, Starburst, and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.  Yes brand matters in this case.
  3. Get in the project!  Food Allergy Research & Education has an amaze Teal Pumpkin Project The site contains a map across the United States of homes with Top 8 Allergy friendly candies or non candy items.  We are on that map!!img_1616
    • There are great kid friendly activities
    • Print outs for your home are on this site!
    • Stores like Target and Michaels are carrying Teal Pumpkin items for purchase.
  1. Offer allergy friendly candies that do not contain the top 8 allergies or have a prize option:  Stickers, rings, slime, pencils, any party favor.
    • I am finding multipack prize options at a reasonable cost at Target and Walmart.

Below are the Top 8 Common Allergies for your  in  the know.  Food allergy challenged or not, awareness for the sake of safety in important.  Please consider going teal in the festivities.  This act of kindness will treat you in the future.

Top 8 Allergies

  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Gluten
  • Fish
  • Dairy
  • Soybean
  • Shellfish

Namaste 🙏 and  ❤️ teal 🎃

The kid’s teal pumpkins

A Health Foodie Craving Tale- Pumpkin and Banana Junkie with a Side of Chocolate Addiction

A Health Foodie Craving Tale- Pumpkin and Banana Junkie with a Side of Chocolate Addiction

As soon as Starbucks gives the pumpkin spice latte signal I am ready for soups, pumpkin, root veggies, and twice the banana.  Unfortunately, this summer held on with its fierce grip and autumn flavor had to wait.  Now oven is on and so are the baking experiments.  The start of this tale was a girl (me!) seriously craving some banana bread of the gluten free kind. Anything of the baking variety with me becomes an experiment.  Cooking is more my thing, but baking is becoming a necessary skill to acquire.  After emptying my cabinets and pulling a basic recipe, this deliciousness was created-   It’s mix of grains with protein, omegas, fiber. Good stuff.  But it taste bad.  Like you wanna be bad.

Gluten free Banana Bread

What you need:

Brown or white rice flour 1/2 cup

Flaxseed 1/4 cup

Oats   3/4 cup, ground (gluten free for GF challenged)

Large egg with 1/3 cup of melted butter OR   1 cup of applesauce (go Vegan!)

1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 to 3 very ripe bananas

Prep and bake–

1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃ my metric friends), then coat with butter or baking spray a 4 x 8 loaf pan.

3. If your oats are not ground then do so. I use my blender because it makes it a fine powder which I prefer. Add the flaxseed, ground oats, and rice flour together and set aside. All components should equal 1 & 1/2 cup.

2. Mash the bananas in a bowl, then add the egg and melted butter or add the applesauce.   Do not do egg and butter with applesauce.  Apple sauce is a second option. One or the other. Applesauce is a great substitute for an egg allergy or staying on the vegan track.

3. Add baking soda, vanilla extract, sugar, and flour combination to the banana mix.  Stir until blended well.

4. Pour mixture in the coated loaf pan. You can add chocolate chips, nuts, dried cranberries, etc on top.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 45 – 50 minutes. If you are not sure as I often am, use tried and true stick a butter knife or toothpick in the middle and if it comes out pretty much clean, it is done.

It satisfied the sweet craving quickly and a slice was filling.  I did go for two.  I did extra elliptical minutes, I earned it.    I am not a natural baker and it’s more like learning a made up language most of time.  Pulling from my inner Frankenstein creator I made this next tastiness come alive. These cookies are anyone with a pumpkin craving that shares my banana obsession. The chia and flaxseed lend to omega and protein.  Pumpkin and bananas add great nutrition. Oats are a source of great fiber.   You can tamper with it (at your own risk) to make them to reduced sugar or add other nutrients for more punch. It follows a similar pattern to the banana bread but the consistency will be much different since it does not use flour.

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies/Bars

What you need:

Chia 1/4 cup

Flaxseed 1/4 cup

Oats   1 cup, ground (gluten free for GF challenged)

Large egg with 1/4 cup of melted butter OR   1/2 cup of applesauce (go Vegan!)

1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 very ripe bananas

1/2 can of pumpkin filling/puree

Prep and bake–

1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃ my metric friends), then coat with butter or baking spray a 4 x 8 loaf pan or a muffin tin

3. Ground the oats, flaxseed, and chia together.  I had to ground them in sections since my blender is small.  All components should equal 1 & 1/2 cup.

2. Mash the bananas in a bowl, then add pumpkin puree, egg/butter or applesauce.   One or the other. Applesauce is a great substitute for an egg allergy or if you are a vegan.

3. Add baking soda, vanilla extract, sugar, and oat/flax/ch- ch- ch- chia combination to the banana mix.  Stir until blended well.

4. Pour mixture in the coated loaf pan or 3/4 full of each muffin tin section. You can add chocolate chips, nuts, dried cranberries, etc on top.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes for loaf pan and 30 for muffin tins. If you are not sure as I often am, use tried and true stick a butter knife or toothpick in the middle and if it comes out pretty much clean, it is done.  The loaf rises only a little and they can be cut into bars.

I did manage to willingly share my creation, which is a feat when chocolate is involved.  The recipe was doubled so I was able to do a loaf and twelve muffins.   It makes a great part of your morning with cottage cheese or yogurt.  If you are on the go, grab one or two with a protein shake. Having a nourishing breakfast item prepared is the best ending to this girls tale of cravings and wellness.

Enjoy and Namaste.

Health foodie: Finding the (pH) Balance in Your Food Relationship

Health foodie: Finding the (pH) Balance in Your Food Relationship

Spicy foods and I have had a long time love affair in our food relationship.  It seems that now we are at least on a separation if not headed for limited contact relationship.  Our relationship literally burns my heart, among other things.  Heart burn, acid reflux, and bile reflux are serious conditions that do more than irritate.  Due to high acid production, it can erode your digestive system from mouth to intestines.  It can be painful and may even cause esophageal spasms.  Not being able to use your esophagus sucks at the very least and scary at times.  To find balance in your food relationship, you need pH balance- acid vs alkaline.  This doesn’t mean acidic food are bad all together, many have amazing nutritional value and for some people, acidity is needed.  For us fiery, acidic bellies- we need to tone it down and tailor our relationship.

It’s starts with “we’re on a break.” For some time or all the time or on a limited basis you need to quit these foods: caffeine, citrus fruits, cocoa beans (coffee/chocolate), tomatoes, spicy, hot temps, high fats, processed, fried foods.  A relationship with a medical professional may help you decide what that relationship will look like.  These foods are either high in acid or cause more stomach acid production.  If you are extra sensitive then avoiding most fruits, gluten, dairy, and onions may be of benefit.

So now what do I eat?  I truly did have a spicy food addiction.  In treating and making new relationship routines I have become a humongous fan of oats.  I like oats before, but it’s a whole new love now.  Oats are excellent for regulating blood sugar among many things but for the sake of stomach acid- it absorbs acid and helps regulate the guts.  Every morning I have oatmeal with raw honey and sliced bananas.  Every. Freaking. Morning.  Raw honey, it HAS to be raw, has amazing healing properties and bananas are on the helpful with the acid list.  Ginger in tea or added to a meal is another pH balancing friend.  Probiotics like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha will tip the pH scale in your favor.  And veggies.  Veggies are alkaline which is the yin to acid’s yang so to speak, especially those greens and carrots.  Avocados, herbal teas, nuts, seeds, tofu, amaranth, and legumes are other alkaline options for daily contacts in your food relationship.

Love red sauces.  Me too! What do I do with tomato based sauces to combat acidity? Carrots.  These handy veggies in a puree aid in leveling out tomato’s acidity.  Cooking time is important too.  It need to be limited and I do not cook my sauces over thirty minutes.  More cook time, more acid.  Spices and herbs can contribute to raising the pH level.  An example is enchilada sauce.  I either eliminate the chili powder completely or reduce it, the up the cumin by half more.  This can be applied to any enchilada sauce recipe or pin you see.  Below I have included how I make my carrot puree plus a recipe for a reduced acid pasta sauce.  The carrot thing really does work.

Carrot Puree

2 carrots peeled and diced in 1 cup of water.  Cook until soft and blend or food processor until smooth.  You can double to make extra to store or freeze for later use.

Reduced Acid Pasta Sauce

  • 2 ( 29 oz) can of Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of carrot puree
  • 2 bay leaves (cue 90’s kid in school lunchroom memories)
  • 2 tablespoons basil
  • 1 tablespoon oregano

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Cooking: measure it, dump it, stir it, and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.

You can cook longer if you can stand higher acidity.  TBH- I love longer cooked sauces; however, they are not loving me back at the moment.  Care for your gut as it cares for the rest of you.

Please like share or pass along!

Namaste

Health Foodie: Using Nature and Nutrition to Subdue the Head Monkeys

Health Foodie: Using Nature and Nutrition to Subdue the Head Monkeys

 

 

Here me now- I am not claiming total head monkey control.  However, there are ways to quite them and get them mananged.  This has been HUGE for my daughter and I.  We have monkey riots in our heads often and they just needed to settle the hell down.

When the head monkeys are out of control they need to be fed.

First in a head monkey’s diet is sleep.  Lack of sleep makes them louder or controlling them harder. I am not sure which. Either sucks.  Set a iron clad routine.  For adults, around 10 P.M. and up around 6 P.M. following the rhythm of nature. If that time frame not possible, seven to eight hours where you are able.  Uninterrupted.  My kids and I are still in negotiations on that part.  Settle into a non engaging activity thirty minutes before bed time.  I absolutely CANNOT read  before bed.  Book are engaging and insomnia inducing for me. My daughter it’s the opposite effect. As a  matter of fact it can put her to sleep in the middle of the day, so she claims.  Find a relaxing activity you can walk way from.   Listen to your body. I have been sleeping in an extra when possible due to my iron deficiency and children.  I need the extra sleep.  I am not against sleep aids and if you need them use them with care.

Head monkeys love food.  What you feed them either fuels crazy or appeases them.  Avoid high fats, sugar, dyes, chemical/processed foods.  It reeks havoc on your nervous system and incites head monkey riots.    Caffeine needs to be on a short lease.  There are some studies showing restrained amounts of coffee in the A.M. help rev those brain engines, possibly- POSSIBLY- helping those with ADHD.  It’s not conclusive.   However, in small amounts I find it helps.  The best thing you can feed yourself is water. HYDRATE. Don’t give them a fighting chance.  Head Monkey grub should rely on protein and not just meat protein.  Even  good-for-you lean meat protein in high amounts taxes your kidneys.  Nuts, beans, lentils should be mingling with your chicken, turkey, and lean beef. Frequently. YOU NEED CARBS. Actually, the head monkeys do.  But carb responsibly.  Whole grains like oats, amaranth, brown rice, quinoa, barley are the bread/pasta ingredients to look for.  Avoid processed, refine, and white flour.  Especially bleached. Saying “bleached flour” out loud just literally tasted nasty.  Bleached?! Whole fruits and veggies are smart head monkey carbs and nutrients. Eat them. In abundance. Then watch those head monkeys quiet down.

What you eat is as important as how and when.  Breakfast needs to be a protein punch and the afternoon follows suit.  Afternoon is when you start to drop in your energy rhythm and wish for those kindergarten naps.  Eat a light protein snack.  Small meals space about two to three hours apart regulate your blood sugar, showing those head monkeys who’s boss.  Drink water all in between.

You may want to consider supplements depending on your head monkey issues. LISTEN CAREFULLY KIDS AND HEAD MONKEYS.  Supplements are not for all ages and can negatively interact with other medications.  Check and double check with professional input.  Vitamin Bs (“S”-plural) in a multivitamin for kids, multi or just B complex form for adults is great. The Bs work the nerve system with magnesium, its a head monkey massage.  Omegas are for all ages, stages, and reasons.  We are plant based omega takers but cold fish omegas are VERY helpful in head noise reduction.  If you deal with anxiety, depression, focus issues, etc safely used and effective supplement can help your extra head monkeys. Even if you take medication.

Now that the head monkeys are rested and fed.  Give them a run.  You need to get active- daily and through out the day. Simple stretches, standing up and down a few times when you have desk duty makes a difference. Commit to getting that heart pumping.  It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do. Then get hands on.  Head monkeys like creativity.  Everyone is creative and not everyone is a Picasso.  Coloring books are just as effective as a Pollock inspired endeavor.  Cooking is creative. Yay food! Working on cars. LEGOS! Just be open and get something in your hands.  If the monkeys are especially loud then meditate while hands on- shameless previous post plug on meditation .  A daily meditation practice is a great preventative for crowd control.  You need to empty the junk drawer but you may worry about the ability focus for so long.  Take five minutes as a starter and if you can go longer great, if not, that’s great.   It’s all about being intentional to help you focus on what you are creating for animal head control.

As of now my head monkeys are on a leash.  While I embrace their quirks and noise at times, the clock is ticking so I am going to go cook something.

My head monkeys namaste your head monkeys.  Find mental peace friends.