Gluten Free For Good


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Gluten-free oatmeal and teff power porridge

Pete Bronski, founder with wife Kelli of the blog No Gluten No Problem, is an endurance athlete, friend, colleague, and co-author of our new book (May release date), The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life. Check here for pre-order details. And when we say, an Active Gluten-Free Life, we mean everyone on the planet, not just super-heros.

After long hours (days, weeks, months) of researching, writing, rewriting, and interviewing gluten-free athletes and athletes who choose to be gluten-free, Pete is back logging long hours trail running and I’m back at Mary Jane telemark skiing. I’m also in the process of losing the 5 pounds I gained while writing and creating high-octane recipes for the book. Aahh, the irony of writing a book on sports nutrition (weight gain and a slide in fitness).

It was worth it and I’m incredibly grateful for the experience, but now I’m on a mission to revive myself. My eating habits weren’t bad while writing the book, but I sat on my bum for way too many hours and my exercise routine, active lifestyle, and yoga practice suffered. That’s not something I want to make a habit of.

I’ve found that the best way to kick-start my day and boost my energy levels is to eat a power-packed breakfast. That means a combination of high-quality carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing healthy, gluten-free breakfast ideas for an active lifestyle. All will be vegetarian, nutrient-dense, and delicious.

First up: gluten-free power porridge with whole-grain oats and teff—perfect before heading out for a day of skiing or hiking (or in Pete’s case, mega-distance trail running).

But before I get to the recipe, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a little “compare and contrast” of oats. Oats are not all the same, as fast-food, mega-giant McDonald’s demonstrated last year with the unveiling of their “Oats with the Most” fruit and maple oatmeal bowl. After reading the ingredient label and nutrition information, I’m thinking the tag line should read, “Oats with the Most additional and unnecessary low-quality, junk-food additives.”

McDonald’s Oatmeal Bowl contains the following ingredients: Oatmeal—whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, modified food starch, salt, natural flavor (plant source), barley malt extract, caramel color; Diced Apples—apples, calcium ascorbate; Cranberry Raisin Blend—Sweetened dried cranberries (sugar, cranberries), California rasins, golden raisins, sunflower oil, sulfur dioxide as a preservative (contains sulfites); Light Cream—milk, cream, sodium phosphate, datem, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, carrageenan.

What the heck is datem?

I’m so glad you asked.

DATEM (directly from Wikipedia): Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Ester of Mono- and Diglycerides is an emulsifier used to strengthen dough by building a strong gluten network. It is also known as E472e and is often derived from genetically modified soya bean oil.

First off, if it’s called E472e, it’s not food (not to mention its other name). Really? We need a dough strengthener in our oatmeal?

Aside from the fact that this oatmeal is contaminated with gluten, it’s filled with a boat-load of unhealthy ingredients. Leave it to McDonald’s to completely ruin what should be a healthy breakfast.

Now, let’s take a look at the ingredient list on my bag of Montana Gluten-Free OatmealIngredients: whole grain rolled oats. Period. Wow, the oats are the ingredient. It’s the same thing with my bag of teff. Ingredients: whole grain teff. What a concept. The food is also the ingredient.

To be fair, the McDonald’s ingredient label included everything in the pre-made bowl of oatmeal. Yes it comes with the apples, cranberry raisin blend, and light cream infused into the oatmeal (don’t even ask). Unfortunately, you can’t pull through the drive-up window, order the Oatmeal Bowl and say, “Hold the  E472e, the barley malt extract, the caramel color, the multiple sugars, the modified food starch, the calcium ascorbate, the sulfur dioxide, the sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, and the carrageenan.”

To insure that my “compare and contrast” playing field is level, I’ll include the same detailed nutrition information on my porridge at the end of the recipe.

Gluten-free oatmeal and teff power porridge
(photo above–Montana GF Processor’s raw oats and Bob’s Red Mill raw teff)

what you need
1 and 1/4 cup water
dash of salt
1/2 cup certified gluten-free whole grain rolled oats
2 tablespoons whole grain teff
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small apple, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon raisins (or a mix of raisins and dried cranberries)
honey or maple syrup (to make it vegan, used maple syrup)
coconut milk or other milk

what you do
1. Bring water and salt to a boil.
2. Slowly add oats and teff, stir well, and turn heat to low. Add vanilla, cinnamon, apples, raisins, and cranberries (if using).
3. Cook on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat when liquid is absorbed and serve with a drizzle of honey (or maple syrup) and milk of choice. I like light coconut milk with it, but any nut milk will do.

PER SERVING (Oatmeal Teff Porridge): 3.2 g fat; 78 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 10 g fiber
Nutrition Bonus: excellent source of iron

PER SERVING (McDonald’s Oatmeal): 4.5 g fat; 57 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 5 g fiber
Nutrition Time Bomb: additives, preservatives, dyes

Note: Some people with gluten intolerance have an immune response to oats, even certified gluten-free oats. If you choose to try oats, start slowly (1/3 cup) to see if you react. Oats also contain a lot of fiber, which is a good thing, but may cause gastrointestinal stress if you’re not used to it. Check with your healthcare provider if you’re unsure about adding oats to your diet.

Peace, love, and power porridge. Stay tuned for more healthy breakfast ideas for an active gluten-free life!


confessions of an HLA DQ2 cavewoman

*Warning: this post took on a life of its own. If you’re looking for a quick recipe, bail out now. If you’re remotely interested in my take on the wonderful world of food, genetics, evolution and Celiac disease, brace yourself and read on.

Was this Paleo guy after the mastodon or the armadillo?

Or, maybe he was out doing some wild cereal hunting. That field of Triticum would be a lot easier to tackle than the mastodon. I’m pretty sure I evolved from a less aggressive, nomadic, grass-eating tribe. My ancestors hunted with pruning shears, not six foot long daggers with jagged tips. We ate grasses, berries, nuts, seeds, dates, olives, leafy green things and even rich, savory mushrooms once we figured out which ones didn’t kill us. We also ate a lot of fish depending on our travels.

Unfortunately, that’s where things went awry. When we stopped wandering and built condos on the Mediterranean Sea. I had HLA DQ2 ancestors and around 8500 B.C. they decided cultivating Triticum dicoccum (emmer wheat) was less dangerous than chasing 6 ton mastodons with sharp pointy tusks.

And so, the Celiac story begins – with the domestication of wheat and the interaction of HLA (human leukocyte antigen) genes and deamidated gluten peptides. To make it even more fun, let’s throw in sexual selection, mating preferences and pathogen resistance. We actually have some biological factors (those HLA genes again) influencing who we’re attracted to and mate with.

HLA genes are involved in immune function. They guard against nasty invaders and do a good job keeping us healthy. They also magically prompt us to compliment our disease fighting ability with genetic dissimilarities. We subconsciously strive for varied biological attributes in our offspring. Bottom line? These genes play a role in who we get the hots for.

Seriously. I’m not making this up. Check here for details.

It’s called olfactory curb appeal. Okay, I made that up.

Without even knowing it, you might be attracted to someone because of smell? You don’t know why they smell good, it’s not perfume or cologne or anything. It’s just them. That’s deep, dark and delicious biology working to keep the species healthy. Subconsciously we’re seeking to keep our DNA loaded with a genetic mixture of diverse immunity, so we sniff out complimentary HLA genes. Unfortunately, the introduction of wheat, barley and rye played havoc on our genetic blueprint. These normally brilliant little HLA DQ2 genes also code for autoimmunity (check here for details), as is the case with Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes.


Okay, that was a rather convoluted introduction to why I don’t favor the Paleo diet, but I had to set the biogeographical stage. You see, my ancestors go back 10,000 years ago to the Fertile Crescent. They were sunbathing on the Syrian coast and eating a Mediterranean diet way back when. Before it was cool and trendy to eat like that. I’m pretty sure they weren’t loading up on pounds of mastadon meat. Maybe on rare occasions like someone’s wedding or the toppling of a rival empire, but not often.

I’m also thinking my female ancestors frequently had to settle for HLA DQ2 suitors rather than shaking things up with an anti-Celiac DQ4 guy. Life was different then. It’s not like you could jet off to the Andes in hopes of diluting the DQ2 gene pool. You got stuck with whoever was in your merry band of hunters and gatherers and that probably meant similarly encoded DQ antigen regions.

I’m just curious about all this because I think it’s in my genetic makeup to favor plants. I’m not much of a meat eater. Paleo eating is popular right now and supporters suggest we evolved to eat a high animal protein diet, but that doesn’t work for me. At all. Ethics aside, I’m not fond of animal products and I don’t digest meat or dairy well. I’m much better off eating a big bowl of leafy greens, some brown rice and a mix of roasted veggies than I am a slab of prime rib or a chunk of cheese. I’m sure I’d do better if my meat sources were from wild, organic, healthy animals and my dairy sources were raw and from 100% grass fed, happy goats, but in general, and for a lot of reasons, I’m more suited to a plant-based diet. Considering the toxic chemicals in our food supply, the overuse of antibiotics and hormones in CAFO (confined animal feeding operations) and the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria, I don’t think a diet heavy with animal protein is healthy. And that’s not factoring in the impact on the environment.

By the way, this post isn’t an endorsement of any specific eating plan. I’m just thinking out loud. So, don’t hit me over the head with a club if you’re a Paleo fan. For the record, I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but if I do eat animal products, I’m grateful that I can be picky about the sources.

Okay? Are we all friends? Omnivores and herbivores? Vegans and meat eaters? Berry pickers and spear throwers? What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. We’re biochemically unique. I’m also convinced that genetic influences (as wildly explained above), environmental determinants, ethical leanings, lifestyle factors and nutrient feng shui make a difference.

I made up that nutrient feng shui thing. That’s my phrase for food combining, which I’m not into either. Life is hard enough, lets make eating easier, not more difficult. A nutrient-dense, whole foods, plant-based diet is easy and healthy. At least for my DNA.

Points to Ponder

• Recent research suggests that red meat consumption increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011

• Study reveals direct evidence for a variety of plant foods in the Neanderthal diet, including legumes, date palms and grass seeds (Triticeae). PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2010

• Don’t assume we were all heavy meat eaters. Molar macrowear in Neanderthals and early Homo Sapiens suggests high dietary variability. My ancestors were Paleo Plant People from Mediterranean habitats. Check here for the research details. I made up Paleo Plant People, but who knows, that might emerge as a classification system. I’ll contact the Paleolithic genome project and suggest it.

• Maintaining a healthy pH balance is important to health. Beef, pork, poultry, milk, butter, cheese, cream are acid-forming foods. Plants are alkalizing. An acidic internal environment is disease-promoting. Low acid diets may protect against several diseases, including osteoporosis (yes, osteoporosis). Check here for details.

• According to my weight and age, I’m supposed to consume about 45 to 50 grams of protein per day. The average American adult consumes at least twice that much per day (100 to 120 grams per day). When that much protein (along with the often higher percentage of fat in animal products) is consumed, other important nutrients are often excluded from the diet. Fiber percentages and beneficial plant nutrients are often lacking in high protein (animal source) diets. I prefer less protein than the USDA’s RDA and more fiber than they recommend. That can easily be accomplished on a high-grade, plant-based diet. Even if you’re exercising a lot. Even if you’re a serious athlete.

• Strong and consistent correlations are reported between death rates from cancer and per capita consumption of animal products. Check here for epidemiological correlations between diet and cancer frequency.

• It’s my opinion that a whole foods, predominantly plant-based diet filled with lots of fiber and organic, nutrient-dense vegetables is the best way to heal and thrive if you have Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. I have DQ2 genes and Celiac disease. People like me often have difficulty digesting animal products (meat and dairy). Maybe we didn’t evolve to do so. Maybe our genes are telling us something. Maybe Paleo isn’t for us. Maybe we’re Paleo Plant People.

Peace, love and green veggies.


homemade vegetable soup stock

Having a jar of homemade stock available is at the top of my list of “essentials” when it comes to healthy cooking. I use stock for everything from sautéing greens and making rice to adding moisture to my veggie burger mix. It’s also a great way to use up bits and pieces of veggies that probably wouldn’t have a life of their own if not mixed together for stock. These are the stragglers that are one step ahead of the compost pile. Rather than using them to make dirt, use them to make stock.

Here’s how.

what you need (this is a launching pad, use whatever you have on hand)
Place random veggie parts and pieces in a large, deep stock pot. Full the pot half-full with chopped veggies. Add some garlic, fresh or dried herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, bay leaves), salt, 2 to 4 whole peppercorns and some dried mushrooms. The mushrooms are optional, but they do add a nice earthy flavor and substance to the stock. You can also add chopped jalapeno or red pepper flakes if you want stock with a kick. Cover with cold, filtered water, bring to a boil, turn heat down, put a lid on it and simmer for about 1 to 2 hours. Cool and strain. I often pick through the strained veggies and purée a few favorites to add a touch of thickness to the stock.

Veggie stock will keep in the fridge for about 4 or 5 days and in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. I freeze it in small batches, so I can pull out a container and use it for a couple of days to sauté vegetables or heat up already cooked rice or quinoa. I’m a fan of olive oil or coconut oil for sautéing, but using broth is low fat and low calorie. Plus it adds a nice, rich flavor to whatever you’re cooking.

* I keep a glass jar in the fridge for non-compostable (the elite stuff) veggie remnants during CSA season. I go through veggies so quickly that saving the better cast-aside pieces for making stock works well. Slightly past their prime is fine, bordering on old age is not good.

Peace, love and veggie remnants!

gluten-free sweet potato quinoa burgers

Okay, I admit it right off. Crappy photo.

Since my photography skills (and cheap camera) often leave a lot to be desired, I’m going to ask you to use your imagination on this one. Imagine the above pre-baked quinoa burgers to be fully cooked, nicely browned, a touch crispy and served on a beautiful bed of lightly steamed baby spinach. Now imagine they are topped with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese, slowly melting over the burgers. Accompanied by a glass of smooth and light-bodied Pinot Noir, slightly chilled.

Much better.

I took the photo seen above right before putting them in the oven. But once they were finished, all I wanted to do was eat and not fuss with food styling (I use that term loosely) or snapping pictures. They were delicious! Seriously delicious. And perfect served over a bed of spinach. I’ve been working on a gluten-free, veggie burger for some time now with several failures along the way, but this one is the clear winner. No doubt about it. I’ve made them 3 times since I took this photo and I’ve been over-the-top thrilled each time. These are keepers.

Melissa’s gluten-free sweet potato quinoa veggie burgers
what you need

1 cup cooked quinoa (I used organic red quinoa)
1 medium sweet potato, baked with flesh scooped out (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup raw shredded orange beets
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup white beans (I used canned Eden Organic Navy Beans*)
25 Mary’s Gone Crackers (I used the organic black pepper crackers)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped black olives
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
olive oil for sautéing
what you do
1. Place crackers in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground (not a powder, but not chunky). Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions, garlic and celery. Add beans to saucepan, stir and cook for a couple more minutes. Lightly mash beans with a fork until they’re semi-crushed. Remove from heat.
3. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. If the mixture is too moist, add some more ground crackers. If too dry, add some more smashed beans.
4. Form into “burger” patties and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. Check after about 15 minutes and rotate pan to insure even browning.
5. Serve on a bed of lightly steamed spinach or use as a burger with a gluten-free bun.

The ingredients can be changed according to your preferences. Skip the olives and add chopped mushrooms. Use shredded carrots instead of beets, black beans instead of white. Be creative.

* Eden Organic beans are packed in cans that are BPA free.

Peace, love and gluten-free quinoa burgers!

enlightened hot chocolate

I’m not eating high-calorie treats right now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t lust after something sweet and chocolatey now and then. Now and then, I say casually, like it’s an uncommon occurrence. Let me see, I believe I was dreaming of chocolate in my 5:30 AM yoga class this morning.

Yesss, I do realize dark chocolate should not be the cornerstone of a spiritual path, but there’s no reason it can’t provide a little inner calm now and then.

With no refined sugar and no dairy, this healthy vegan hot chocolate is what I made upon returning from my down dogs, side planks and arm balances.

hot chocolate with a kick of enlightenment
what you need

2 cups organic rice milk
3 tablespoons organic cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 packet Stevia
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

what you do
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan on low-medium heat. Whisk to blend and continue stirring until it reaches desired temperature. Shave a little dark chocolate on top. Makes 2 servings. Adjust to your liking by tweaking the ingredients.

Contains 150 calories per serving and is rich in vitamin D, vitamin B-12, calcium, iron and phosphorus.


babycakes brownies


Use caution.

These brownies deserve double-black-diamond-dessert status. This is a warning to amateur chocolate eaters. Proceed at your own risk.

I better explain. First off, these little gems are gluten-free and vegan. Yeah! But there’s more to the story. They’re not sugar-free, bean-free, guilt-free, caffeine-free, or buzz-free. But look at them, aren’t they gorgeous? Holiday sweetness packed into one-inch-thick chocolatey goodness, my contribution to this week’s Gluten Free Progressive Dessert Party that Diane at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang is hosting. (See below for links to a whole week’s worth of gluten-free goodies.)

This brownie recipe is from the cookbook, Babycakes NYC. I followed the recipe step by step, with two exceptions. Three if you count adding my own home-made frosting. I cut back on the vanilla as mine is fairly strong and I switched out the pan choice. I didn’t have mini-muffin tins or a square baking pan (how can that be), so I used a 15 x 10 x 1 inch shallow sheetcake pan. That worked fine, but I had to alter the baking time and the temperature. Once finished, the thin little brownies looked a bit whimpy, so I figured I’d dress them up. What’s a girl to do when something looks plain? Add more sweet, frilly stuff. Accessorize!

The girls at Babycakes have come up with some absolutely divine, health conscious treats and I thank Erin and Emily for the use of this brownie recipe. I’ve heard the mini-muffin tin versions they sell at the NYC bakery are nearly impossible to keep in the case. People love them. This is one of the few recipes in the cookbook that calls for sugar, most of the others are refined sugar-free. All are vegan and most are also gluten-free. If you have multiple food sensitivities, happen to find yourself in NYC and are craving a special treat, visit Babycakes. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to cupcake heaven.

Babycakes brownies
what you need

1 cup garbanzo-fava bean flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for the muffin tins or the sheet-cake pan
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used my own home-made version)
1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract (the Babycakes recipe calls for 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup hot water or coffee (I used coffee)
1 cup gluten-free, vegan chocolate chips

what you do for the my sheetcake version
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your sheet-cake pan with oil.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, potato starch, arrowroot, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.  Add the 1/2 cup oil, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water or coffee to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
3. Pour and spread the batter evenly into the sheetcake pan.
4. Bake the brownies on the center rack, rotating the tray 180 degrees half-way through the baking time. I baked the sheet-cake version for a total of 22 minutes, rotating the pan after about 10 minutes.
5. Let cool and frost. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

* These are wonderful straight from the freezer. I tried to save myself from eating them, so I put them in the freezer. Much to my dismay, they were better frozen!

what you do for the Babycakes mini-muffin tin version
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease three 12-cup mini muffin tins with oil. Follow step #2 above. Using a melon baller, scoop the batter into each prepared mini-muffin cup. Bake the brownies on the center rack for 10 minutes, rotating the tray 180 degrees after 5 minutes. The finished brownie will have a firm edge with a soft center, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Let the brownies stand in the pans for 10 minutes; they are best served warm.

Melissa’s frosting
what you need

1 and 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan “butter”
6 tablespoons light coconut milk
1 teaspoon coconut flour (skip if you don’t have it)
1/2 cup gluten-free, vegan chocolate chips

what you do
1. Place Earth Balance, sugar, coconut flour and coconut milk in a medium sauce pan. Blend well and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil (and stir) for 1 minute. Watch it carefully, stirring the whole time. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Gently stir until the chocolate chips have melted and are blended into the frosting. Pour over the sheet cake and spread evenly with a spatula. If you have room, put the sheet cake in the refrigerator. Once chilled, cut into small squares and serve or store in the freezer.

* I’m warning you, go easy on these! They are SO good, but think about what they’re made with before eating several in one sitting. Bean flour, sugar, chocolate, coffee – whoa, Nelly. You do want to sleep that night!


Monday, December 7th Baked Desserts with Shauna the Gluten Free Girl & The Chef, Alison at Sure Foods Living, and Ali from the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.
Tuesday, December 8th Frozen or Chilled Desserts with Shirley at Gluten Free Easily and Diane at the W.H.O.L.E. Gang.
Wednesday, December 9th Chocolate Desserts with Karen at Cook 4 Seasons and Ali from the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.
Thursday, December 9th with Diane at the W.H.O.L.E. Gang.
Friday, December 10th with Melissa at Gluten Free For Good.

Merry desserts everyone! Next week Melissa the nutritionist will be back with a little healthier fare. No groaning, I heard that.

hemp protein smoothie

hemp seeds

I know, it’s fall and there’s a distinct chill in the air. If you live in the high country, you might even have a skiff of snow on the ground. Not exactly smoothie weather, but my detox buddy and I have been doing a fall cleanse for the past three weeks and smoothies have been a major part of our diet. Although I didn’t have the time this fall to document our progress like I did last spring, the results have been the same. I’ve lost a few pounds and feel light, healthy, energetic and rejuvenated. In fact, even though I do this every spring and fall, I’m always struck by how good I can feel. It’s a twice-yearly reminder to reset my health goals and pay attention to how I treat myself. Everything we eat, drink, breathe and absorb through our skin must be dealt with by the body. We’re exposed to a long list of icky environmental toxins on a daily basis. Periodic cleansing gives the body a chance to sort through the muck and unload some of that toxic burden that has accumulated over time. Every system and organ in the body is impacted by what we eat, but the liver is the workhorse. Periodic cleansing gives it a chance to catch up on its workload and regenerate, which is vital to overall wellness. 

This smoothie is filled with antioxidant goodness, high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to boost health and combat free-radical damage. Hemp is one of nature’s best plant-based protein sources, containing all the essential amino acids the body needs. And no, you won’t flunk a drug test if you’ve had a hemp smoothie for breakfast. I’m a product of the sixties, a hippie-girl at heart, so the word “hemp” brings to mind marijuana, peace, love and tie-dyes. Having said that, I never inhaled. 

Marijuana and hemp both come from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa L., but from different varieties. There are different breeds of dogs in the Canis familiari group – think Chihuahuas and my guy, Fairbanks. This is no different. Hemp protein powder and marijuana are not the same, so don’t worry that you’ll start wearing bell bottoms and sporting flowers in your hair. Or singing old Janis Joplin or Jefferson Airplane songs. Not that that’s a bad thing. “Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.”

Quick, what’s that song?

the word 'hemp' isolated on white

hemp protein smoothie
what you need

2 ripe pears *
2 cups Romaine lettuce or spinach
1 ripe banana *
1 cup goat kefir or goat yogurt
1 cup coconut water
1/4 cup shredded raw zucchini
1/4 cup berries (any kind, organic preferred, frozen is fine)
3 tablespoons hemp protein powder
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon

what you do
Wash and cut fruit, throw it in the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Makes 2 BIG servings or 4 small ones. If you don’t have this mix of ingredients, make up your own. Color outside the lines! Some of these ingredients were from my weekly CSA share. This is a great way to use fruit that is on the far-side of mid-life.

* Overly-ripe fruit is actually better in some ways, especially in smoothies. Ripe bananas are more alkalizing, green bananas are more acidic. Which foods give you the best chance for a healthy pH balance is for another post, but this is a good way to add alkalizing foods to the diet (that’s a good thing), so don’t toss overly ripe bananas. Use them in smoothies. 

A sampling of nutritional highlights
Pears are in season now and full of vitamin C and copper, both of these nutrients help protect cells from free-radical damage. High in fiber and considered a “hypoallergenic” fruit, pears are not only healthy, but creamy and delicious as well.
Romaine lettuce is packed with nutrient goodness and contain only 7 or 8 calories per cup. You get a lot of bang for your buck with Romaine, but make it organic as the Environmental Working Group lists lettuce as one of the “dirty dozen” on their shopper’s guide to pesticides
Pumpkin seeds are rich in anti-inflammatory properties, which may be protective against arthritis and joint inflammation. Guys – pumpkin seeds contain a rich blend of health-promoting minerals, including zinc which helps protect your “boy” parts and your bones. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found a connection between low zinc levels and osteoporosis of the hip and spine. We always think of osteoporosis as a female condition, but it can be a problem for older men as well. 
Cinnamon contains unique essential oils that are anti-microbial and help balance yeast and bacteria in the intestinal tract. In addition, cinnamon helps balance blood sugar levels and is rich in fiber, iron, manganese and even calcium. Plus, cinnamon is sweet and tasty. I add it to everything I can think of.

For more cleansing information, check these posts from last spring; cleanse introduction, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, and a cleanse wrap-up

Go forth and power up your smoothies! Singing songs from the sixties is optional. 

farm fresh salad soup

It was 32 degrees here last night, cold all day and light snow is expected tonight. It’s been snowing heavily in the mountains (yeah!). Monday’s CSA delivery had no chance of becoming anything other than farm-fresh soup. Other than garlic, broth, olive oil and one small sweet potato, I used what was in my delivery box and made a big batch of soup. It could have easily been a salad had I not cooked the ingredients.

I forgot to put the spinach in the before photo (my share box was absolutely overflowing again). Imagine a sweet potato where that gorgeous egg plant is and imagine it surrounded by rich, vibrant spinach leaves. As I was busy chopping away, I decided a sweet potato played into this soup better than the eggplant, so I switched those out at the last minute. I’ll figure out something with the egg plant later this week. Eggplant parmesan with a homemade tomato sauce?

Here’s the before picture.


Here’s the after picture.


Salad in the form of warm, soothing soup
What you need (anything you want, but I used the following)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 bay leaves
2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (about 3/4 inch cubes)
6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup water
3 carrots, washed and cut into chunks (don’t you love those chubby carrots)
3 celery stalks, washed and chopped into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces, leaves and all
2 cups washed, trimmed and sliced green beans (1 – 2 inch pieces)
2 cups washed and chopped zucchini (1 inch pieces)
corn kernels from 1 ear of corn (uncooked, removed from the cob)
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 – 2 cups spinach, washed and chopped into large pieces
herbs such as thyme, rosemary and basil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

what you do
• Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large stock pot. Add onion and bay leaves and stir frequently for 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add sweet potato, stir occasionally and cook 5 more minutes. Pour 1 cup of the broth over the vegetables, increase heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes.

• Add the next 5 cups of broth and the 1 cup of water and bring to a light boil or simmer. Add the carrots, celery and green beans and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Add the zucchini and corn and simmer another 5 minutes.

• Add the diced tomatoes and the herbs and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. Add the spinach, cook another 2 to 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve. Top with a touch of shredded cheese if you’d like (Parmesan or Monterey Jack is good).

These cooking times are flexible, but I’ve found this “layering” method works well with so many different types of vegetables. Put the veggies that take the most time to cook in the pot first, ending with things like herbs, tomatoes and greens that take much less time. I like my soups with crunchy vegetables and vibrant colors and if you over-cook the soup, you lose both characteristics.

Go forth and make salad into soup on cold days!

the beet goes on


Don’t try this at home.

But if you do, definitely don’t eat it in front of anyone you’re trying to impress. Your teeth will be the color of a Barbie Glamour Gown.

I was inspired by Ali of Whole Life Nutrition to try my hand at making ice cream. Lilly’s bunny bowl full of fresh strawberry ice cream was too tempting to ignore. The fact that I didn’t own an ice cream maker did nothing to curb my enthusiasm. I’ve been saving a 20% off coupon from Bed, Bath & Beyond for something like this and figured it was time to give Ben & Jerry a run for their money.

No vanilla, chocolate or caramel pecan for me. Nooo way am I going to start my ice cream making career with something basic like that.

I’m also on a mission to use everything I find in my Grant Farms CSA box each week. No waste, I’m determined to creatively use every last lettuce leaf. So far, so good, although I’m only 1 week into the 26 week harvest. Last week’s bounty included several fresh herbs, French breakfast radishes, butter lettuce, green leaf lettuce, kale, spinach — and baby beets!

Hmmm? Beet ice cream? Sounds better than kale ice cream.

I figured no one had ever tried this before — until I googled “beet ice cream” and found that Todd and Diane at White On Rice Couple had a recipe for it and so did Michael Symon of the Food Network. Who makes beet ice cream? That’s down-right weird. Although they both looked good, I wanted to try it dairy-free and both recipes used cream.

Uh, it’s ice CREAM, why would it be dairy-free?

White On Rice Couple have a beautiful food blog stocked with recipes made from healthy, fresh, local ingredients. Plus, they’re just plain groovy people. Check them out.

Back to the task at hand. Dairy-free, beet ice cream. I knew I was going to use coconut milk for the cream substitution (that’s a basic for me), but I had no idea what else to do, so I went back to Ali’s ice cream recipe for inspiration. I can always count on Ali and Tom to come up nutritious, tasty and simple recipes. For a complete cooking guide to healthy fare, check out their Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. It’s wonderful!

Beet Coconut Chocolate-Chip Ice Cream
what you need

2 cans “classic” coconut milk (the full-fat version)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups beet juice
1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips
Electric ice cream maker

what you do
I blended the coconut milk and maple syrup in my blender until mildly frothy and stored it in a large glass bottle in the refrigerator. My CSA delivery had a bunch of small baby beets – I had to add 6 larger beets to the mix. Trim the stems, scrub well and roast the beets in a 400 degree oven for about 45 to 60 minutes. I added the smaller ones half-way through the roasting process. For more information on how to roast beets, check here. (Next time, if there is a next time, I’m going to skip the roasting and use raw beets.) Let cool, trim ends, cut into chunks and run through a juicer or vita mix. I ended up with almost two cups of juiced beets. Blend all ingredients in mixer until creamy. Pour the mixture in the ice cream maker per manufacturer’s directions. I churned the ice cream for 25 minutes, then added the chocolate chips and churned it for another 5 minutes. Place in the freezer for several hours while you clean up the fuchsia mess that was once your kitchen.

Eat alone and don’t smile.


As you can see, I liked it. A lot. And no beety taste – seriously, you would never know it was made from a root vegetable.

The beet goes on,
P.S. Who wrote the song – The Beat Goes On? And when?

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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(co-written with Pete Bronski)

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