GF Avocado Rosemary Biscuits

gluten-free avocado biscuits.gluten-free avocado biscuits.
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The best things are born out of necessity. Like this morning when I ran out of fat to bake with ( no butter, coconut butter etc) and decided to use avocado instead. OH. MY. YUMMMMMM!! Yes, all of those exclamation points are necessary.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. & grease 3 cups in muffin tin
1/2 cup GF biscuit mix from Red Mill
1/4 avocado cubed
Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of rosemary, dried or fresh (optional)

1 egg

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Blend flour mix with avocado and salt until well mixed.
Add egg and milk and blend.
Scoop into muffin tray and bake for 22 mins until golden brown and test knife comes out dry.
Eat them all because they’re delicious. Wait, what?! ūüėČ

Is it okay to hate Quinoa….and chia??

Is quinoa better than brown rice?
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Is quinoa better than brown rice?

Is quinoa better than brown rice?

Is it me or is every other popular blog post recipe about something made out of chia or quinoa? Luckily, I like both… well, quinoa more than chia since I’m allergic to the latter. Still, what if you have never tried either OR if you have and don’t like them? is it even necessary to force yourself to try these so-called super foods? Well, let’s figure out why they’re super, shall we? Foods with that label typically have a higher concentration of antioxidants than on other foods in their category (fruit, vegetable, grain).

Take¬†quinoa¬†for example; can’t you just stick to brown rice and get the same benefits? Well, first: congrats on making the switch from useless, diabetes instigating white rice to it’s browner sister.¬†¬†Off the top of my head I know that brown rice is high in fiber but this handy infographic from the Prevention.com blog spells out why quinoa wins the competition. ¬†Hint: quinoa has more protein , fiber, and folate per cup than the same amount of brown rice.

Verdict: give quinoa a try. You might not like its nutty flavor as a newbie but you can start by mixing it with your brown rice or buying it that way. You can also cook it in low sodium chicken stock to add more flavor if you like.

The chia seed¬†is not only high in antioxidants but this little Mayan powerhouse is also high in protein, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Wait, didn’t we JUST fall in love with flax seeds for the same reasons? well, chia has higher amounts of the aforementioned nutrients than flax does AND you can eat the seeds whole ( flaxseeds need to be ground up in order to be absorbed). People that like chia usually sprinkle it on other healthy foods or mix it into liquids to make chia pudding as¬†the seeds turn gelatinous when¬†wet.

Basically, the ideas is that chia seeds can make a healthy meal even healthier by boosting its nutrient content but here is the catch I ¬†found:¬†There IS so much as too much of a good thing when it comes to the fat soluble vitamins ¬†(chia has 15 IUs of Vitamin A), allergy potential ( I got a bad rash) and tummy troubles ( chia with a side of bloating, anyone?). ¬†In short, try it sparingly first before throwing yourself wholeheartedly into it. Actually, this is a good rule of thumb for most “fad” foods!

Final Verdict: as our world gets smaller (AND bigger) new foods that make eating more interesting and beneficial will come and go. Your goal is to enjoy your meals while getting the most out of them nutritionally. Foods like quinoa and chia can boost your nutrient level quicker than their more traditional counterparts so explore your options.

How to make badass gluten free biscuits

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A ¬†favorite part of the ¬†NYU Nutrition program was the time I spent in the kitchen.¬†It was there that it really hit home that cooking and baking especially were scientific reactions. One just had to think about the end goal for taste and texture and combine ingredients to achieve them. Was I always perfect? hardly. Did I often end up with flour in my hair? always. Still, I too kmuch away from that course and whatever my addled brain couldn’t remember I knew ¬†was written in this $3000 collection of textbooks I amassed¬†over the years. Like how to make biscuits: this is really about how to combine your ingredients. Once you get that, it dawns on you that it applies to everything i.e types of cookies etc.¬†

Biscuits (or scones) are rustic lumps of deliciousness in my house. I do like the flaky, buttery versions too but I’m still perfecting those so stay tuned. These savory ones were born of my love for ¬†the taste of cheddar biscuits and my need to only use gluten-free flour. *P.S. I’m not celiac but I know I don’t respond well to regular flour (extreme fatigue, bloat, churlishness). Judge me freely. Here is how I did it:

1/2 cup GF muffin mix from Red Mill

3-4 tbsp unsalted butter (regular or coconut)

6 oz low fat yogurt ( I needed the probiotics but you can use tsp of vinegar mixed with 1/4 -1/2 cup almond milk; the acid is the key)

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of Rosemary

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and oil your muffin pan for 4 biscuits ( you can just use wax paper too).

Mix flour and butter thoroughly in a high speed mixer or blender ( my Ninja might be the best thing I’ve ever bought).¬†

Add pinch of salt and rosemary to mixture and mix again. Taste to see if you like it.

Now add wet ingredients of yogurt or almond-vinegar mixture and blend all throughly. 

Scoop lumps into your tin and bake for 18-20 mins until golden brown and knife comes out dry when you test.

Let cool for at least 5 minutes and then enjoy!

Did you try them? Please let me know what you thought!

 

The apple cider vinegar craze: is it for you?

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An apple a day keeps the Dr. away!

An apple a day keeps the Dr. away!

Let’s just admit it: we are a nation of wellness gluttons who will binge on any new trend that we think will make us “perfect” in a jiffy. Knowing thyself is important so let’s just get that out of the way, shall we? Take Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV to those in the know), for example: it has been touted as the holy nectar of all things healthy for a hot minute now: wash your floors, wash your face, wash your HAIR with it! ¬†DRINK IT! It solves world peace!! (okay, I added that last one). Is this is all meaningless blog content, marketing ploy or does the stuff work? Personally, I like to know the why’s before I jump on bandwagons so let’s break ¬†it down.

First things first: as with most natural remedies, the claims made about what ACV abilities¬†don’t match the amount of viable research ¬†available. In short, a lot of these health claims don’t have the support of science BUT our grandparents and their parents can’t all be wrong and science sometimes has to catch up; After all, research IS expensive.

Acetic Acid: the magical ingredient

All vinegars contain acetic acid (when ethanol is fermented by acetic acid baceria, acetic acid is born; Wikipedia it!) . You will hear the term “Mother of Vinegar” used and that just refers to the bacterial culture used to spawn the vinegar. ¬† ACV has a high amount of acetic acid (usually 5%) which makes it too strong to use on your skin or to ingest if undiluted. However, the theory is that adding diluted acetic acid to your gut will lower blood pressure and improve the absorption of certain minerals while slowing the digestion of carbohydrates and thus preventing spikes in blood sugar. There is also the premise ¬†that adding an acid that is weaker than gut acid to your system increases the alkalinity of your blood. ¬†Three things are important to note here:

  1. The blood pressure lowering effects was found to be true in rats but hasn’t been tried in humans yet.
  2. The hydrochloric acid (HCL) you already have in your gut is powerful and usually does a fine job of helping you absorb the minerals from your food by breaking down the proteins they are attached to. Does ACV overpower the enzymes that cause you to quickly break down carbs in the gut? the jury is still out. BUT:  you DO start to make less HCL with age (and with stress);  people with chronic or stress related digestive issues might have impaired gut function overall. Some alternative practitioners contend that low HCL can lead to  anemia and an overgrowth of yeast in the gut which can then lead to skin and dental issues (eczema, dermatitis, gum disease, thrush etc) 
  3. A balanced, healthy diet low in simple carbohydrates won’t cause spikes in blood sugar OR lower blood pH like a junk food diet that relies on refined carbs (think white flour, quick oats, white rice) will; common sense says to NOT eat a meal that will spike your blood sugar rapidly.¬†BUT: people with prediabetes (insulin resistance), diabetes or a family history of diabetes have abnormal insulin levels so their blood sugar levels need additional help.¬†A diet high in simple carbohydrates can ALSO lead to candida aka. yeast overgrowth.¬†WARNING:¬†Be careful with ALL natural remedies¬†if you’re already taking medications¬†since there might be interactions. Chat with your Dr. about what you intend to do and the meds you’re on.

Apples, Apples a wonderful fruit

As the name implies, ¬†ACV is made from fresh apple juice that includes all parts of the apple i.e the seeds, stems etc; this concoction is called the apple¬†must. Why should you know this? well, since conventionally grown apples ¬†have high pesticide levels, it’s worth it to buy organic, unfiltered (the cloudy kind) ACV since all parts of the apple are used to make it. So guess what’s in apples and¬†vegetation that grows from the earth? phyto-chemicals, that’s what! Your body loves phyto-chemicals because they act as natural antioxidants that protect your cells from rapid deterioration.

So there you have it! Sure, apple cider vinegar as a nontoxic house cleaner is a no brainer because of its acidic action and minimal ingredients. Heck, it’s even been shown to serve as an excellent pet friendly pest repellent ( spray it on your pesky neighbor to make sure). Should you ingest it daily some have suggested? maybe if you fall into any of the categories mentioned that have trouble with low HCL, insulin and/or skin issues. The good news is: ACV¬†IS¬†nontoxic so if you want to try it and see what happens then it likely won’t harm you (again, be careful if you’re on meds). Just don’t rely on it indefinitely (take breaks here and there if you decide to pursue it as a remedy). Balance in life¬†is key!

 

 

References

  1. ¬†” Antihypertensive Effects of Acetic Acid and Vinegar…”, Kondo et al (Pubmed.gov); 2001
  2. “What the Research Really Says about Apple Cider Vinegar” Dr. Mercola (Mercola.com); 2009
  3. “Apple Cider Vinegar”, Cathy Wong ND (About.com/Altmedicine)
  4. “Phytochemicals”, American Cancer Society (cancer.org);
  5. A Review of Mineral Absorption…”, Dr. James Gerber MD (IntegrativePractitioner.com)

Catch me on Dr. Oz? 6 more foods you SHOULD buy organic

6 foods you SHOULD buy organic
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Organic Food

Organic Food

Good news! Although food marketers would have you believe otherwise, everything you eat does NOT have to be organic and the fact that you even eat fruit and vegetables is better than not eating them. I recently appeared on the Dr. Oz for a segment on organic vs non organic food shopping (watch it¬†here).¬†Still, there¬†are¬†some foods that you SHOULD buy organic. The¬†Environmental Working Group¬†states that these items show residues of contaminants that are seriously toxic to your nervous system. There are more on the EWG’s list but selfishly, these are the foods I eat the most:

  1. Spinach
  2. Strawberries: FYI, the tiny pits on strawberries are little craters for pesticides. Eww
  3. Zucchini
  4. Celery
  5. Kale/Collard greens
  6. Sweet bell peppers

Sunday Soup day: garlic chicken

Healthy soup option for cold an d flu season
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Healthy Cold Kicking soupThis soup thing is starting to get too easy but I’m not knocking it! Such an no fuss way to get some cooked food in the house AND get your root vegetables. The last soup I made was meat free and I’ve spent this past week eating very little meat. This week’s has a 1/2 LB of organic chicken.
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, diced
3 small turnips, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp turmeric
1/2-1 LB chicken

Heat olive oil in large sauce/soup pan then add onions and stir til translucent. Add garlic and stir together. Add all vegetables and add broth until vegetables are covered. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat and then simmer on medium heat:
Season chicken with herbs and turmeric then add to broth. Cover and simmer for an additional 25-30 minutes.

My version of Thom ka gai

yummy coconut milk and tumeric soup.
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Should I even mention the weather? It’s been C-c-cold EVERYWHERE! That, plus nursing a nasty respiratory infection, means only one thing in Casa Stacey : soup! To be honest, this coconut based soup is what happened after I chopped some root veggies, added come coconut milk and chicken broth and realized I had no chicken. It came out so fragrantly because I really saut√©ed the half cup of chopped onions and tsp of garlic in a couple tsps olive oil; then added a bay leaf and a tsp of turmeric. Brought it to a boil, let it simmer for 30 mins and then added a handful of chopped kale and voila! I love happy accidents!

Turkey (sausage) & kale soup

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I got this idea from a friend, Mindy T., who showed off the pretty kale she grew and made into turkey sausage stew. I don’t have any leftover turkey so I’m using spicy turkey sausage but if you do, use it!

I’m using my crockpot but the recipe I’m using is from

TheKitchn.com

Will let you know how it turns out but I can’t imagine ¬†that it will be bad, especially in frigid temps!

A review: Paleo Pumpkin Bars (Clean Eats the Zoo)

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Paleo Pumpkin Bars Review

Paleo Pumpkin Bars Review

Happy Fall, ya’ll! The weather has cooled considerably here even in just the last two days which for me means I can really get into the swing of my favorite season. For me that means trips to pumpkin patches with my dog-child and Friends With Kids, apple picking in beautiful upstate NY, scarves, jeans, sweater coats, reds and gold touches in my decor and pumpkins everywhere and in EVERYTHING. So now that I’ve decorated and my house smells downright yummy, it was the perfect time to add some pumpkin action and I chose to do it with these Pumpkin Bars from the family at CleanEatstheZoo.com. ¬†Seriously, this family is an inspiration in a lot of ways which you can read about here.

Now full disclosure: I don’t claim to subscribe to any particular “diet”. Instead, I eat to prevent spikes in my blood sugar and blood pressure since type 2 diabetes and hypertension runs in my family. My nutrition goal is also to preserve my hard earned muscle mass, keep excess fat at bay and maintain my energy levels for this crazy schedule I have. Sometimes this leads to¬†Paleo friendly diet¬†¬†because nothing saps my energy more than grain based carbohydrates but I also try to limit my intake of animal fat and have been know to love my fat-free Greek yogurt which Paleo is not a fan of. If anything, I believe in clean, wholesome eating using foods found in nature and not labs. But enough about me, let’s chat about these pumpkin bars!

I was tempted to improvise a few times but baking is a science and well, I’m not a good enough cook or baker to get cocky. You have to spend the dough to make the (non) dough for these bars but you can find some savings here.

Review: 5 Forks Up! So delicious and filling.

The crust was the most troubling part for worry worts like me because it doesn’t cling together the way grain based doughs do. Remember that almond meal or flour is nothing more than very finely ground almonds. When I tried to press mine together before baking it seemed crumbly at first but all I did was add another couple TBSP of coconut oil and it was fine. A long setting time is true for all grain-free flours, by the way so don’t skip that part ( this recipe called for leaving it to cool for quite some time after baking) and don’t fret.

ActiFry Awesomeness

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Are you kidding me?? A deep fryer that ISN’T a deep fryer?? AWESOMENESS!! sorry for the heavy use of exclamation points but the ActiFry Low Fat Multi Cooker might just be one of the best inventions ever. ¬†According to the manufacturer:

With ActiFry you can enjoy crispy, great tasting fries that are low in fat! By using just one tablespoon of oil you can make 2 lbs of fresh French fries, which is enough to feed a family of four. That one spoonful is over 200 times less than a traditional 3 liter deep fat fryer, which not only means that your food is substantially more healthy, but it is also more economical. The French fries have only 3% fat per serving!

Has anyone heard of this thing? has one?