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Archive for October, 2010

mixed mushroom and veggie soup

This month, Diane at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang is hosting Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free. Her theme is scary foods, or foods we’re reluctant to eat because they seem weird, strange or just plain creepy. Naomi, author of the blog Straight Into Bed Cakefree, is the creative genius-ette behind GAHIGF and if you check here, you’ll see she has an exciting list of themes and hosts scheduled all the way out to June of 2011. It’s beyond my comprehension to be that organized, but those of us who enjoy all these unique flavors and creative recipes are thrilled that Naomi keeps this party going in such grand style.

Although there are lots of foods that I find scary for health reasons, I know Diane didn’t mean nasty, processed foods full of chemicals, additives and dyes, so I had to dig deep to figure out a weird food that I’d actually buy, create a recipe for and eat.

Believe it or not, mushrooms hit my “creepy food” button. I use them occasionally, but usually in a puréed form. They add a wonderful earthy taste to soups and stews, but eating them in their slimy, cooked-but-not-puréed form weirds me out. The texture is way too booger-ish.

Having said that, here’s what I like about them (other than the earthy flavor they impart). Mushrooms have been used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for centuries for everything from immune support to anti-aging, so they’re high on the list of well-studied medicinal foods. They’re considered an adaptogen in alternative healing circles and while I doubt they’re the cure-all many tout them to be, they truly are packed with health-enhancing nutrients. Plus, they’re low in calories, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.

I usually sauté mushrooms in coconut oil and blend them with vegetable broth in my VitaMix. That way I can add them to recipes and get all the benefits and none of the icky texture. I realize most people aren’t bothered by the slimy feel of mushrooms, but I’m not one of them. So, puréeing is a good way to reap the benefits and circumvent my gag reflex.

For this recipe, I used a mix of organic shiitake, shimeiji, abalone and field mushrooms from Woodstock Farms. I didn’t sauté them first, I just tossed them into my soup blend.

mixed mushroom and veggie soup
what you need

6 cups vegetable broth (I often make my own, but this time I used Pacific organic vegetable broth)
2 cups filtered water
1 onion, diced
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
4 to 6 carrots, chopped
4 to 6 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
4 tomatoes, quartered and roasted
1 and 1/2 cup mixed mushrooms
oil (some for sautéing the veggies, some for coating the tomatoes)
seasonings (I used Simply Organic all-purpose seasonings)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

what you do
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and quarter tomatoes. Place in bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss gently. Place skin side down on a cookie sheet and place in oven for about 30 minutes.
2. While the tomatoes are roasting, heat a glug of the oil in a heavy soup pan. Add the onions and cook for 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, celery and carrots and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often.
3. Add the vegetable broth and simmer on low for about two hours.
4. Place the tomatoes (be careful blending if they’re still hot) and the filtered water in a blender and blend well. Pour into the soup mix.
5. Once the veggies are cooked, but still slightly crunchy, add the mushrooms and cook for another hour or so.
6. Add seasonings (an herb blend) and salt and pepper. Simmer for a few more minutes. Serve with gluten-free corn bread.

Peace, joy and mushroom love.

sautéed lettuce and brown rice bowl

This post was inspired by the people in my family (that would be Bill and Tevis) who have a funky allele from the shallow end of the “food sensitivity” gene pool. That little chromosome modification makes eating raw lettuce a digestive disaster.


Yes, there are people who can’t eat raw lettuce. How weird is that? (This coming from someone who can’t eat gluten, bell peppers, black beans and eggplant. Or oysters, but that’s just because they’re icky.)

So, who says you have to eat lettuce raw?

Remember, you are the boss of your food. I find lettuce absolutely delicious sautéed and mixed in with other veggies and brown rice. Just like you would spinach or kale. What’s the difference? They’re all leafy and green.

sautéed lettuce and brown rice bowl (a favorite lunch of mine)
what you need

1 cup cooked brown rice (I love Golden Rose, but any brown or wild rice will do) *
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves minced garlic
1 to 2 cups washed and chopped lettuce (a thick and leafy type is best)
Spoonful of coconut oil (or oil of choice)
Several splashes of vegetable broth
Sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and roasted nuts (optional)
Dusting of gomasio * (or dried herbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper)

what you do
Heat oil on low/medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté onions, carrots and celery for 5 to 7 minutes, stir often. They should be lightly cooked, but still crunchy. Add garlic and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice and blend with veggies. If your rice is cold (cooked, but has been refrigerated), make sure you cook it long enough to heat it up. Add a splash of vegetable broth just enough to moisten the mix and prevent the rice and veggies from sticking to the pan. Add the lettuce and another splash of broth and stir well. Keep stirring and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until lettuce is wilted. You might even put the lid on the skillet and let it steam for a minute or two. Place in bowl, top with cheese and seasonings.

I’m not guaranteeing this will solve your food sensitivity problem, but many people have difficulties consuming raw veggies, lettuce included and they never think to cook it first. We cook all other veggies, why not lettuce?

I get lots of Romaine lettuce from my Grant Family Farms CSA share and find this to be a perfect choice for cooking (see above photo of chopped Romaine). It’s thick, crunchy and hearty, so it stands up well when thrown in the sauté pan.

* For detailed information on rice types and cooking tips, please check here.
* For a wonderful gomasio recipe, check here.

Peace, love and cooked lettuce.

weird food facts, secrets & tips

1. What the average American consumes in one year (courtesy of Visual Economics, check here for the over-indulgent details).

• 53 gallons of soda
• 24 lbs of ice cream
• 141.6 lbs caloric sweetener, includes 42 lbs of corn syrup
• 24 lbs of artificial sweetener
• 600 lbs of non-cheese dairy products
• 110 lbs of red meat
• 134 lbs of wheat flour (who ate my 134 lbs?)
• a total of 1996.3 pounds of food per year

Seriously, how can 1 person (in 1 year) consume 600 lbs of dairy products, excluding cheese? Add in the 31.4 lbs of cheese the average American eats per year and that adds up to 632 lbs of dairy products. Yuck. Just the thought makes my nose stuffy and my head ache.

2. “Per calorie, cooked spinach has more than twice as much protein as a cheeseburger; lentils have a third more protein than meatloaf with gravy.”

Bittman, Mark. Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, page 85. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2009.

3. What does the word natural mean on food labels?

Not much, if General Mills’ Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Peanut Granola Bars are any indication. The product claims to be “only natural” and that you’ll always be getting The Taste Nature Intended (which is a General Mills registered phrase). Okay, here’s the label ingredient list. Is this what nature intended? Would you call this natural?

Ingredients: roasted peanuts, high maltose corn syrup, sugar, rolled oats, high fructose corn syrup, palm kernel oil, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, malt, salt), wheat flakes (whole wheat, sugar, salt, malt), fructose, peanut butter (peanuts, salt), yogurt powder (cultured whey protein concentrate, cultured skim milk, yogurt cultures), canola oil, water, maltodextrin, salt, nonfat milk, soy lecithin, color (yellows 5 & 6 lake, red 40 lake, blue 1 lake, and other color added), natural flavor, almonds, baking soda, honey, sunflower meal, mixed tocopherols added to retain freshness.

Whew, did nature really intend for us to eat all that icky stuff? If nothing else, the list of dyes should be a tip-off that natural isn’t natural to the folks at GM. And what does “other color added” mean? Like yellows, reds and blues aren’t enough? And what does “natural flavor” mean in the midst of all that? Does that mean the other flavors are unnatural? My online dictionary/thesaurus includes “undyed, uncolored and unbleached” in its description of the word natural. UH-OH, I can no longer call myself (or at least my hair) natural as I occasionally have “other color added” in the way of a few sun-kissed streaks here and there. Don’t tell anyone.

Bottom line? The food industry has a weird and skewed definition of the word natural. Make your own granola bars. Check here for one of my recipes. Or, here for one of Shirley’s recipes at Gluten Free Easily.

4. Who hates Brussels sprouts?

Whoa, almost all of you? Okay, here are some tips and facts to help you warm-up to Brussels sprouts.

• Don’t overcook them as it promotes the release of those unpleasant (and stinky) sulfur compounds that give them a bitter taste. It also destroys the vitamin C. Quick cooking leaves the delicate, nutty flavor of the vegetable. You can also eat the leaves. It’s okay, I promise.
• To retain nutrients and flavor, quick steam, stir fry or quick roast sprouts. Sauté the leaves with other veggies in a touch of coconut oil and mix with brown rice.
• Hold sprouts in your hand and choose the ones that feel heavy for their size. If possible, pick sprouts still on the stalk and buy the smallest stalk. Those are the sweetest.
• One cup (60 calories) of Brussels sprouts provides 273% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K and 161% of the recommended value of vitamin C. They’re also high in folate and vitamin A, along with a host of other cancer-fighting, anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, detoxing, and health-loving plant chemicals. These little gems are the real deal, hundreds of research studies have taken place on the health benefits of Brussels sprouts.

5. Gomasio
I love this stuff. It’s SO good sprinkled on salads, rice, quinoa, soups, stews, sautéed veggies, Brussels sprouts (see above). Be creative, sprinkle outside the lines.

Here’s a simple (and wonderful) calcium-rich, nutty, yummy condiment. The sesame seeds provide lots of bone-building nutrients. They’re high in calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and zinc – and rich in fiber. One fourth cup of sesame seeds also contain 74% of the recommended daily value of copper. Studies show that copper may help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Good stuff, although not low in calories (high oil content) so keep that in mind. Store in a glass jar in a cool, dark, dry place.

• 1 cup white sesame seeds
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt

In a small skillet, dry roast the seeds on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often until they begin to brown. Using a blender or mortar and pestle (I use a mortar and pestle), blend or crush together the warm sesame seeds and salt. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. Recipe from The Kripalu Cookbook: Gourmet Vegetarian Recipes.

* You can also add dried garlic or dried celery to the mix.

Peace, love and REAL natural food!

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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