Gluten Free For Good


 

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Archive for September, 2007



it’s tea time


Tea contains plant compounds called polyphenols, which have major antioxidant properties. The polyphenols in tea include EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), one of the super antioxidants that are being studied for their anti-cancer abilities. The 4 basic types of true tea are black tea, oolong tea, green tea, and white tea. All true teas come from the buds or twigs of the Camellia sinensis bush. Herbal tea refers to infusions of herbs (like chamomile or rosehips) and fruit and doesn’t normally contain any of the traditional tea bush.

 

 

Legend has it that one of the key spiritual leaders of Zen Buddhism, Guatama Buddha, discovered tea when some leaves from the Camellia sinensis bush fell into a pot of water he was heating. He drank the potion and decided it had medicinal and restorative powers. And here we are thousands of years later paying $6 for a can of dried bush leaves. Are we enlightened?

Whatever the case, tea does have some “enlightening” physiological powers. It can also be spiritually and emotionally healing as well. Nourishment includes slowing down, taking a break, and enjoying some quiet time. Having a cup of warm tea with a little agave honey might be a perfect way to do that.

Potent antioxidants are something we can all use, especially with our hectic lifestyle and the environmental toxins that are floating around today. Antioxidants prevent or delay the oxidation process. They minimize the effects of free radicals on normal physiological functions. Trust me, that’s a good thing.

I’ll touch on the basics of the most recognized types of tea. All have varying degrees of health benefits, but the least processed forms (exposing them to heat and drying methods) are the best.

White tea – grown in China, more expensive, and produced with the least amount of processing. It is almost colorless and has a delicate flavor.

Green tea – this is the one we’re most familiar with and comes in many varieties from all over Asia. It is stronger in color and flavor, but lower in antioxidant properties than white tea (but still on the high end with overall antioxidant ability).

Oolong tea – the word oolong means “black dragon” in Chinese. This version is more fragrant and flowery and according to some sources can vary between inexpensive Chinese restaurant tea to high-end versions that sell for $10,000 a pound. Huh? And I thought $6 a can was bad.

Black tea – is produced in large quantities in India and Ceylon. (Quick, where is Ceylon?) This is the mainstream stuff, the generic version, the most inexpensive and what we North Americans drink as iced tea. Ugh . . .

Add some green tea to your diet. Buy organic versions and steep them properly. You can even eliminate most of the caffeine by steeping the leaves in hot water for about thirty seconds and then drain off the water. Now steep the leaves again as you normally would. This doesn’t impact the antioxidant abilities or the flavor for that matter, just the caffeine content.

Enjoy! It’s good stuff for a variety of reasons.

*Ceylon became Sri Lanka in 1972. So, where’s Sri Lanka?

http://www.srilankatourism.org/

what’s the deal with oats?


Are you confused about oats? If so, you’re not alone in your confusion. Rumors abound about oats. Food rumors? Not exactly high drama, but important if you have celiac disease.

Avenin is the prolamine (protein) in oats that may be suspect for people with celiac disease. Gliadin is the toxic storage protein found in wheat, secalin in rye, and hordein in barley (again, for people with celiac). Together, we called these proteins gluten. I’ll do a post on the history of wheat soon. Very interesting how the plant and the gliadin content has dramatically changed over time.

Research is mixed about the safety of oats as part of a gluten-free diet. You should check with your health care provider before adding oats to your diet, but some studies have shown oats to be non-toxic to celiac patients. When I was at the International Celiac Symposium last November, I heard two different speakers address the issue of oats. Both stated that they felt pure, uncontaminated oats were okay, although some patients react even to the purest oats. The main problem seems to be that oats are often grown near wheat and processed in the same plant, so gluten is present both in the field and in the processing of the final product.

Bob’s Red Milloffers a new gluten free, ELISA tested, rolled oats product. ELISA stands for Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assays, which are designed for detecting and quantitating substances like proteins and antibodies. Bob’s Red Mill guarantees their product to be gluten-free, processed in a gluten-free facility, and is tested at several different points along the pathway to market.

I’m going to try a small amount of cooked oats a couple times this week and see what happens. I’ll keep you posted.

This bowl of oatmeal was made from the recipe on the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oats package (I ordered it online). I used a little more water than the recipe called for and added diced apples, almonds, pumpkin seeds, some baked and diced sweet potato, flax seeds, a couple of chopped dates, agave honey, some fresh pineapple chunks, cinnamon, and topped it with coconut milk. I added all the extras about half-way through the 18 or 20 minutes I cooked the oatmeal. I like things a touch crunchy, so I didn’t want to cook the fruit and nuts the whole time. It was a nice treat and it was cold here this morning, in the low 40s. It felt like fall and eating steamy hot oatmeal was yummy!

In good health,
Melissa

computer glitches and blog intentions


I had a computer failure yesterday and have no access to any of the comments posted on my blog, not that I was being bombarded with comments. Maybe it would be more appropriate to call it operator error rather than computer failure, but regardless of semantics, it’s annoying that I can’t “see” what anyone has posted. My archive has vanished, so I figured it would be a good time to tweak the focus of the blog. I created this website and blog myself and am taking care of the hosting and publishing through my account with Apple (I’m a Mac person; I’ve never even touched a PC), so I’m learning as I go.

 

 

Although I’ve been reading GF food blogs for years now, I had no idea how many wonderful bloggers were out there doing the same thing until I launched into this endeavor three weeks ago and got more involved in the blogosphere (or whatever it’s called). Cindy, of cindalouskitchenblues, left me a comment that was vaporized with all (I use the term “all” loosely) the rest of your comments, noting that she was happy I was blogging about health and nutrition for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

That comment reminded me of my original intention with this blog, which had drifted a bit. I’m looking at this as a sign to change gears and dive into my science, nutrition, and exercise background, rather than post recipes only.

So, let the idea of daily recipes “rest in peace.” Thank you, Cindy, for inadvertently reminding me that my background is science, not just food and cooking. There are already so many of you out there posting the most amazing recipes that I will throw some of mine into the pool, but I’ll stick to what I know best; nutrition, exercise, and yoga.

Onward . . . and stay tuned (please).

In good health,
Melissa

this is the last time, I promise


Okay, this is the last re-hash of the same ingredients. I promise! But this was so good that I wanted to share how many different ways you can use green chile.

A couple of days ago I baked several russet potatoes to go into soups, stews, and huevos. As you know, if you’ve been following this blog (all 5 of you), I’ve been roasting and peeling fresh green chile all week. I’ve also had some problems with cheating on my dairy, which is now over. I never eat gluten ever (unless it gets slipped into my food inadvertently), but I occasionally treat myself to a little goat yogurt or cheese. Not often and never several times in a row. I did that the past few days and can feel it. So, no more cheese after this post. There is a bit of shredded organic Monterey Jack on these tasty potatoes though.

Take 2 or 3 (or however many you want to make) already baked potatoes and clean out the potato, keeping the skin intact. Don’t totally scrape them out, you want to leave enough potato so the skin remains firm enough to make a “boat” for your mix. Use one extra potato just to add to the mix. Give the extra potato skin to your puppy. Fairbanks, pictured on my
“about” page (isn’t he handsome?), loves baked potato skins.

Melt 3 or 4 tablespoons (or more depending on how many potatoes you’re preparing and how “buttery” you want them to taste) of butter or Earth Balance Vegan Butter in a saucepan and add the potatoes you took out of the skins. Add a little milk or basic rice milk (not vanilla flavored), sea salt, ground pepper and a couple of teaspoons of ground red chile powder.


I use Los Chileros New Mexico ground red chile, but you can use whatever is available (or skip the chile powder).

Mix all the ingredients well, mashing potatoes with a fork or masher. You don’t need to heat this up, just melt the butter and mix all ingredients well. The consistency should be like lumpy mashed potatoes. Add and adjust ingredients to your liking.

Place mixture in potato skins, top with strips of fresh green chile and shredded cheese.

Bake in preheated oven (375 degrees) for 30 minutes or until hot and crispy. Don’t let the top burn; you may need to cover with tin foil if the top becomes too brown.

Serve with a side salad of fresh greens, diced tomatoes, and avocados. Very good, very simple, very healthy! Enjoy!

P.S. The next post will NOT contain green chile or potatoes. I promise!

huevos y green chile


I know, I know . . . this looks like a recycled version of the past few posts. Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, I suppose you’re right. But wait, I added some more chopped potato (because I made extra yesterday), some more fresh green chile and topped it with two poached eggs and sliced cherry tomatoes. The nice thing about starting with a soup is that it gets thicker after a day or so and you end up with something different (a little bit different anyway).

And when you break into the eggs and blend that in with bites of potato and green chile, it’s absolutely delightful. And easy! Good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Yum!

green chile & chicken soup


There are so many different things you can do with just a few ingredients if one of them is fire roasted green chile. Yum, I love this time of year. This soup only took about 30 minutes to make. Although that was after hours of peeling freshly roasted chiles (see previous post). Well worth it though, no doubt.

My next two or three recipes will most likely include green chile and simply be different mixtures of the same ingredients. That’s what’s so nice about Mexican food – same stuff, different combinations. Makes for quick, easy, and healthy meals. Of course, that’s once the roasting, peeling, and prepping of the chiles is finished. It may be time consuming, but it only happens once a year during chile harvest time, so I’m not complaining. Plus, everything smells SO good!

what you need
*Bake 4 or 5 organic russet baking potatoes. I always bake a few extras for whatever might strike my fancy the next day. Tomorrow it will probably be twice baked potatoes topped with . . . what else? Green chile.
*
Always use organic products if available. They’re healthier and usually taste better.

2 just-baked russet potatoes
1 cup roasted and diced chicken (to make it easy I buy the already roasted chicken from Whole Foods or Wild Oats)
several roasted, peeled, and chopped green chiles (6 to 10)
2 cups organic “Imagine” chicken broth (gluten-free)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
1 can pinto beans
1 small diced tomato
2 teaspoons of Los Chileros ground New Mexico chile (mild, medium, or hot)
1 teaspoon cumin
sea salt and ground pepper to taste

*Add any other seasonings you think might taste good. This is just a framework for making green chile soup. I don’t have a “real” recipe for any of the green chile dishes I make – it depends on what I have on hand. Other good additions might be a little fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, a pinch of brown sugar or a teaspoon of agave honey, or even a pinch of Spanish saffron. You could also add corn to the mix. Be creative.

what you do
•Sauté onion in large soup pot on medium/low heat for 3 – 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for another couple of minutes
Add 1 and 1/2 cup chicken broth to the pot, turn on low heat
Add diced chicken and beans to the pot
place the other 1/2 cup broth and 1 cup water into a blender and add 1/2 of one of the baked potatoes (chopped and with skin); add the fresh diced tomato; add the cumin and ground New Mexico chile and puree until fully blended (it should have a gravy consistency)
pour blended mixture into the soup pot, stir
add the chopped green chiles (the fresh roasted and peeled ones)
chop the rest of the already-baked potatoes and add to the soup (1 and 1/2 potatoes; you can leave the skins on or not – once they’re baked it’s fairly easy to chop them and remove the skin at the same time)
salt and pepper to taste
cook over low heat for at least a half an hour and serve with diced tomatoes and avocados on top (you can also serve with shredded cheese if you’re okay with dairy products)

Enjoy!

New Mexico green chile


I used to live in Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico; on the mountain, a short walk from the chair lift. I worked at the Hotel St. Bernard, which is the heart and soul of the Ski Valley. No where do you feel the magic of Taos more than at the St. Bernard. Jean Mayer, owner, host, entertainer, and consummate French charmer, opened the hotel in the early days of the Ski Valley and he and the hotel have remained the touchstone of the mountain for all these years. Jean is also the technical director of the ski school and his passion for skiing is matched only by his passion for life in general.

I love New Mexico – it truly is the land of enchantment, and for a variety of reasons. September is green chile season and you can smell it roasting wherever you are. The smell alone brings back wonderful memories for me. I just spent my Labor Day weekend peeling and freezing green chile for the winter. Nothing’s better than a crackling fire and green chile stew on a cold, snowy, winter’s day.

The first photo is of the chiles after they’ve been fire roasted. This morning my yoga mat, which I leave in my car half the time, smelled like green chile. I’d get a good whiff from down dog to chaturanga to up dog. I carried a couple of bushels of just-roasted chiles home in my car on Sunday and the smell still lingers. It’s heaven.

The photo below is after I peeled them before bagging them and sticking them in the freezer for later. This is just a small portion of what I bought. I took these pictures looking straight down on my kitchen floor. The dog prints you see are part of the charm of Mexican Saltillo tile floors. The platter with the chiles on it is from my favorite potter, Steven Kilborn, of Taos. I have a whole collection of his pottery. You’ll be seeing it in most of my food photos.


I’ll be posting several green chile recipes during the next month, but for now, this is what I had for dinner last night while peeling and freezing chiles. I took one chile (still hot from roasting) and laid it out on a plate. Then put some roasted chicken pieces on it and topped with a little grated Monterey Jack cheese, then topped it with another chile and popped it in the oven for a few minutes. I garnished it with tomatoes from my neighbors garden and a fresh avocado. Simple, but absolutely delightful!

Here’s to fall! Enjoy!

 

the sweet news about chocolate


This post will not only have a yummy, fun, and easy recipe attached (at the end), but will also focus on the health benefits of chocolate. Yippee! We lucked out girls, cocoa is actually a health food. I’m not leaving out the guys, but for some reason, the “gimme some chocolate before somebody gets hurt” gene shows more expression when you have two X chromosomes. We got a double dose of it, that’s all. So it plays out that women like chocolate twice as much as men do. It’s a scientifically proven fact. Ask around, everyone agrees, regardless of gender.

Several studies indicate pure, natural cocoa to be high in flavonoids (phytochemicals), which are powerful antioxidants that may help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to the food chemistry geeks at Cornell University, the antioxidant content of cocoa was almost 2 times higher than red wine, 2 to 3 times higher than green tea, and 4 to 5 times higher than black tea. Other studies show cocoa reduces blood clotting and may also stabilize arterial plaque. If you check the Dagoba Chocolate website, you’ll find a long list of health benefits.

But before you run out to the supermarket and load up on Mars Bars and Snickers, keep in mind, the research studies touting the benefits of chocolate were conducted using pure, natural cocoa (or cacao if you’re talking about the plant), so stick close to the source. Processed candy bars are not only unhealthy in general, but often contain gluten and other allergens. So skip the packaged cocoa drinks and additive-filled candy bars and buy the good stuff or make your own treats (see attached recipe). My favorite source for cocoa powder for my recipes is Dagoba, but there are other good choices as well.

And check out Bete Noire Chocolates for gluten-free, totally yummy and delectable specialties (truffles, cookies, and cakes). The company is owned by my friend and cohort in the world of nutrition and natural cooking (she’s the professional pastry chef, not me), Cindy Gawel. Cindy, an instructor at the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, CO and one of the sponsors of the Gluten-Free Culinary Summit and Lecture Series in Denver, is a chocolate aficionado and gluten-free chef like no other. Nibbling on her rich, chocolate creations: green tea and tangerine truffles; almond, cinnamon, anise, with a hint of chile; ginger and dark chocolate, is . . . well . . . indescribable. You have to try it for yourself. You can even order online, which makes satisfying your addiction to high-end chocolate quite easy!

Chocolate as a health food? Sound too good to be true? Don’t question it, just enjoy it!

Melissa’s scrumptious cocoa fondue

what you need
1/2 cup almond butter
10 mejool dates (pitted)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cups
Dagoba cacao powder
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

what you do
place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency (you may want to add more coconut milk or water)
serve with fresh strawberries, Fuji apple slices, pears, or even jicama (whatever comes to mind)

who misses good pizza?


If you ask people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance what they miss most, I bet a large percentage would say good pizza crust. What do you miss most?

Well, this one isn’t bad. In fact, it’s really good considering how many things are missing! It’s gluten-free, yeast-free, soy-free, sugar-free, corn-free, and dairy-free. The crust, that is, the topping includes cheese. I used Namaste Foods all natural pizza crust mix and topped it with Muir Glen Pizza Sauce, spinach, diced tomatoes, diced onions, Kalamati black olives, and Organic Valley mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with crushed New Mexico red chile pepper and enjoy!

Namaste . . .

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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