Raw Mini Turnips and Dip!

raw turnip sticks

raw turnip sticks

As many of you know, I am a happy cook in the kitchen during the winter season. Once the good weather hits, though I am less inclined to spend the day creating a new soup or tending a classic Irish stew. I prefer to be out of doors playing instead. Yesterday, at lunchtime, I discovered a left over turnip at the back of my fridge, and wondered what I could do with it since I just didn’t feel like making any more turnip soup, (delicious as it was this past winter).

 

That’s when I came up with the idea to use sliced raw turnip as a snack with a hummus dip. Believe it or not I had never eaten raw turnip before, and I wasn’t even sure I’d like it, but of course I loved it or I would not bother to share it with you here today.

 

The taste is sweet, the texture is cruchy, and turnips are probably the cheapest vegetables on the planet. At cool temperatures they keep well for ages and are packed with lots of fiber, vitamin C and calcium.

All you need for this recipe is 1 turnip ( any size).

Hummus or your favorite veggie dip.

Chopping a turnip into bite sized slices is a challenge for me and if you don’t have strong wrists, I suggest:

  1. peeling the waxy outer layer off first.
  2. cutting away several outer portions and working your way to the center of the turnip, instead of trying to hack through the center straight off.
  3. chopping chunks into thin 1.5 inch pieces

Serve with a dip and enjoy!

Healthy Chocolate Coco Butter Cups

I am on a mission to limit my sugar intake and to add healthy saturated fats (coconut oil and coconut butter) at the same time. Even though this is not a sugar free recipe, as I use some honey and, of course, there is some sugar in the dark chocolate, this is my current desert of choice when I get that chocolate craving!  One more good thing; they are gluten-free and dairy-free.

The ingredients are simple and no baking is required!  Please note you really need toasted coconut flakes for this to work.  Shredded coconut just is not the same at all.

Yummy Choco-Coco-butter cups

Yummy Choco-Coco-butter cups

RECIPE

I used

500 g of Roasted Coconut flakes (2 packages)  see image below.

Unpasturized honey to taste. ( I use about 1 TBS)

About 2/3 Cup of melted dark or semi sweet chocolate

Melt chocolate over low heat while you let your food processor blend the coconut flakes into a soft almost liquid butter.  Add a bit of honey if desired.

Fill greased or lined mini muffin tins 1/3 full with  coconut mixutre.  Chill slightly in freezer for 5 mins.  Remove from freezer and add a layer of liquid chocolate in each cup, then return to the freezer for a few minutes and top up the cups with more coco butter and chill one last time again.  If you don’t devour them all in one sitting, keep the rest refrigerated!

*I use a bit of coconut oil to grease the pans  when I run out of mini muffin papers.

Makes about 2-3 dozen mini cups.

OPTIONSIMG_3727

* I sometimes add celtic salt to the chocolate  and pop a pecan in the center before chilling.  Experement and let me know how it goes!

Coco nut flakes

Coconut flakes

BUTTERNUT SQUASH-CURRY SOUP

I make soup of all kinds but my absolute favorite of all is butternut squash soup.  It is low in fat, high in vitamins A and C, has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is in season now. The secret to making sweet tasting soups is to sauté the onion until it caramelizes. I also use curry paste to enhance the delicate flavour.

Don’t throw out those seeds!  Rinse them, coat with olive oil and a dash of salt and roast them at 275 for 15 minutes. Makes for an awesome and nutritious snack!

Back to the soup.  You’ll need:

2 medium butternut squashesIMG_1565

2 large yellow onions, chopped

1tbs coconut oil

1tbs butter

2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped

1-2 tsp of red curry paste

4 Cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 Can coconut milk (optional)

Sea salt – sel de fleur to taste, (not table salt)

1.   Cut each squash in half, remove seeds: wrap each half in tinfoil and bake at 350 until soft and tender, (1.5 -2 hours).  Weather permitting, squash can alternatively be barbequed for a richer, sweeter flavor.  Once cooled, scoop squash from shell and set aside.

2.   In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt coconut oil and add onions, stirring often until onion turns golden brown and begins to caramelize.

3.   Turn heat to low and add butter, garlic and curry paste, stirring frequently for 5 mins.

4.   Remove onion mixture and blend in food processor until smooth. Add squash and 1/4 cup of broth and purée  until smooth. Depending on the size of your processor you may have to do this in batches.

5.   Transfer soup purée to large saucepan and add rest of broth and heat till steaming. Season with sea salt.

6.   Serve in bowl and swirl in a dollop of coconut milk.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

My sister loves to cook and loves to write about cooking and it looks like I do too! Over the years, we’ve exchanged dozens of recipes, as sisters are apt to do.  I visited her recently at her home in Arizona where we had a cook-off and I showed her how I make spring rolls.  I sometimes make them with tuna, mayo, dried cranberries and lettuce but this is my vegetarian version. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did after our hike in Sedona!

Image

Spring Rolls and Peanut Sauce
INGREDIENTS

1 package of Spring Roll Wrappers – made with rice

Fresh Veggies: (carrots, red peppers, zucchini)
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Spring mix lettuce

Slice vegetables into narrow 3 inch long pieces.  Fill a large bowl with warm water.  Dunk a wrapper sheet in the water for about 15 seconds and lay on a clean flat surface. On the wet wrap, place a handful of veggies, a sprig of cilantro and some of the lettuce then roll together, tucking in edges of wrapper as you go.   There are many variations of these rolls so go ahead and use your imagination.  Make as many as you wish. Devour with peanut sauce!

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A little jet-lagged but loving being in my sister’s kitchen!

 Peanut Sauce

1/3 C Peanut Butter

1/4 C Maple Syrup or Honey

1/4 C Sesame Oil

1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar (or use orange juice or regular vinegar)

1 Tsp Ginger Powder (optional)

Whisk to combine and use as a dip for your spring rolls!
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***A few friends have been asking about where to find the spring roll wrappers. Look for these at any grocery store – usually in the Chinese food section.

Summer Salsa Update!

Salsa has quickly become my favorite side dish this summer. Earlier this week I posted the first salsa recipe I ever made. Since then, I’ve been experimenting and have come up with a new version!

The key to the great taste, I think is the combination of capers, coriander and lime juice.

The recipe is the same as the original but with just a few additions. Today I added mango, avocado, a bit of red onion and a few artichoke hearts…So here it is, the tweaked up version of my summer salsa.

4-5 ripe, Italian tomatoes, diced or pulsed in the food processor for a few seconds.

2 ripe avocados, chopped

1mango, chopped

1-2 tbs red onion, diced

1 can of pitted, black olives, chopped

3 strands of garlic flowers or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.

2-3 tbs small capers

4 artichoke hearts, chopped

Add the following herbs to taste: Coriander, basil, thyme

Juice of 1 lime and or lemon

Toss all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and serve with wheat-free crackers or as an accompaniment to whitefish !

Just glancing at what other bloggers are posting, I see that there are so many more salsa combos out there, some using pineapple and others blueberries…going to give those a try for sure…and I hope this recipe inspires you to try a new salsa this summer.

SUMMER SALSA!

I love to cook but when summer rolls around I prefer to spend more time outdoors and less in the kitchen. This season’s recipe will free you from the stove without sacrificing nutrition.

In Chinese Medicine, we discourage the the consumption of too many raw foods as they can pose digestive problems for some people. In the summer heat, however, our systems can better handle the digestive requirements of some raw vegetables including the tomato which relieves dryness and thirst, builds yin fluids, purifies the blood and detoxifies the body in general.

What makes this condiment recipe all that much more special is the fact that one of my patients shared it with me. Thank- you Karine!

Summer Salsa

6 ripe, Italian tomatoes, diced or pulsed in the food processor for a few seconds.

1 can of pitted, black olives, chopped

3 strands of garlic flowers or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. (Garlic flowers are pictured below.)

Garlic Flowers

1 -2 tbs small capers

Add the following herbs to taste: Coriander, basil, thyme

Juice of ½ lime and or lemon

Toss all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and serve with wheat-free crackers or as an accompaniment to whitefish!

Our Gluten-Free Christmas!

Our Gluten-Free Christmas!

This past holiday season was, for our family, gluten-free because my daughter, Leandra is gluten sensitive. Although she has not had a firm diagnosis of celiac disease, she feels much better if she avoids different sources of gluten.

Celiac dis-ease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.

It is estimated that 1 in 133 persons in Canada are affected by celiac disease. Many more are sufferers that remain undiagnosed.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale and, barley. It is the gluten in the flour that helps bread and other baked goods bind and prevents crumbling. This feature has made gluten widely used in the production of many processed and packaged foods.

What are the symptoms of Celiac?

The symptoms of this allergy (for that is exactly what it is) include any of the following;  anemia, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, cramps and bloating, and irritability.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of blood tests, though Leandra’s results were not conclusive they did indicate a gluten sensitivity.

Treatment

If you have celiac, you must follow a gluten free diet as this is the best way to both avoid experiencing the very uncomfortable and painful reactions and to protect your system from long term damage. Although there is no cure for celiac dis-ease, acupuncture can be of great relief as it can reduce intestinal inflammation and strengthen the body’s immune system.  The patients I treat for symptoms related to celiac benefit from a reduction or elimination in abdominal pain, bloating and fatigue. They sleep better and feel calmer. Please read my blog for an explanation of how acupuncture understands and treats celiac here.

Naturally, I advise patients who have not yet had a diagnosis to get tested and to eliminate gluten in all its forms.

Certification logo for gluten free products originating in Canada

I had no idea just how tricky this task could be until my own home became a gluten free zone.

Although we were aware of Leandra’s condition last Christmas, I was honestly not prepared for the changes necessary in order to meet with her dietary requirements. The devil is in the details as they say, and the turkey stuffing, gravy and desserts I made all contained gluten – even the apple berry crisp, and when Leandra came home for Christmas break that year, she was forced to pass on every single one of them.

That one meal made me realize that going gluten free involved a lot more than just holding back the bread! I had a lot to learn. And learn I did. This year, I was determined that things would be much, much different.

Gathering my resources

First, I armed myself with a book I now recommend to all my patients and friends. It is Paul Pitchford’s classic, “Healing With Whole Foods”. This book has become my bible to better health using food as medicine. His opening chapter explains for instance, why we should ALL be eliminating wheat, in the form it is currently available, from our diet – gluten sensitive or not! His point is that wheat flour, in all its processed forms is devoid of most of the nutrients that is naturally found in the wheat bud.

He also states that wheat is a common allergen but that practically NO ONE reacts to wheat sprouts. So sprouting is next on my list of new ways to prepare healthy food, and shall certainly be the subject of a blog in the near future.

Another indispensable resource has been http://www.westonaprice.org- a website devoted to healthy eating based on the research of the diets of traditional populations by Dr Weston A Price. This foundation encourages the use of fermented foods and suggests that sourdough bread may possibly be tolerated by most celiac sufferers – although they caution that the subject still needs further testing.

It’s a Jungle Out There!

So I have begun concocting gluten free recipes from scratch. And rethinking even the most basic dinner menus and shopping lists. I have to admit, I find grocery shopping much more of an adventure these days-a treasure hunt of sorts with prizes so rare and elusive that I actually rejoice upon finding them. Xantham powder, sorghum flour, almond flour – these once unheard of ingredients now form the basis of what I call ‘alternative’ baking.

Gluten free themed blogs are all the rage, it seems, and a blogger named Karina, has become my ‘go to’ source for amazing gluten and dairy free recipes. Yes, Leandra is lactose intolerant as well-another condition common to gluten sensitive folks. Karina turns out daily recipes here.I think she makes a fantastic contribution. My first ever attempt at her flour-less chocolate cake turned out to be a hit!

Flour-less Chocolate Cake

This Christmas, our whole family enjoyed a totally gluten free dinner, complete with all the trimmings and unctuous desserts. Leandra and I got to spend quality time together in the kitchen trying out new recipes. It really was a lot of fun.

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Here are a few tips I thought would be useful if you or someone you care for needs to go gluten-free:

* Not all gluten free products are good for you! In fact, most commercially available products are laden with sugar and made with harmful trans fats.

* Read labels and check for common gluten sources as wheat, spelt, rye, oats and barley, (including beer) and triticale.

* Hidden sources of gluten are soup mixes, salad dressings, sauces, prepared meats, salad dressings, as well as lipstick, certain vitamins, medications, stamps and envelopes you have to lick, and even Play-Doh.)

* Going gluten free has become something of a weight-loss fad. Great care must be taken to regain certain nutrients that are lost in the absence of grains that contain gluten. Get informed and get educated.

Please use the above mentioned resources in your journey to better intestinal health. Begin with a visit to http://www.celiac.com for a complete list of foods that contain gluten, as well as often surprising and hidden sources of gluten. And read further on how acupuncture can help with Celiac and gluten sensitivity here.