Category Archives: recipe

Paleo tweaks

Found a great tweak to my go-to coleslaw recipe. Coleslaw is my favorite way to eat cabbage, although the stir-fry cabbage I made last week was pretty amazing. (This, from someone who had a sort of okay-I’ll-eat-it-because-it’s-a-vegetable-and-vegetables-are-supposed-to-be-good-for-you attitude.) The coleslaw sauce recipe came out of a gluten-free cookbook, and was so simple to remember: equal parts mayonnaise, sugar, and white vinegar, whisked together. I ‘d add a pinch of salt and a little white pepper to that. Creamy coleslaw perfection.

Okay, so how to make this Paleo friendly? Homemade mayo, check. Raw apple cider vinegar, check. Sugar?

I thought about stevia, but didn’t really want to go there. My past experience experimenting with the stuff didn’t seem too promising for this recipe.

Trying to go completely sugar free… but finally broke down (don’t want the cabbage in the fridge to go moldy from sitting there) and tried honey in the recipe today, as in (for a wedge of cabbage, shredded)

1 TBS mayo
1 TBS raw apple cider vinegar
1 TBS raw honey

It made for a flavorful dressing — didn’t even need the salt and pepper. The honey was very strong, and can probably be cut down to a teaspoon or a little more. And of course I’m not eating as much honey as is there in the sauce because when the coleslaw is gone, there’s still sauce left on the plate. So while it’s not exactly cutting out sugar, it is cutting way down, and substituting raw honey (which has its own health benefits).

You can read on, or ignore the rest, which is mainly medical musing and a little background as to why I’m doing this “Paleo” way of eating, or trying to, anyhow.

***

Feeling my way here… I’ve been in a lot more pain lately, over and above (don’t you love redundancy?) what the water kefir has been suppressing…

(Digression: How do I know what the water kefir is suppressing? Because of what happens when I don’t drink it, if I didn’t get around to harvesting the latest brew and due to our busy schedule, have to run out the door without my morning cuppa.)

Anyhow, have begun trying to eat according to “Paleo autoimmune” guidelines, more than I was when I was just following Paleo guidelines. Something that I hadn’t cut out before were the nightshades (specifically tomatoes and peppers — I can take or leave eggplant), nuts, and eggs. The earlier stuff involved in transitioning to Paleo-style eating as defined by Robb Wolf  and other people I’ve been “listening to” (as in, reading books and websites), well, that wasn’t so hard, considering that our kitchen has been gluten-free for over a year now, and over the past months I’ve been experimenting with dairy alternatives as well.

As a matter of fact, I had been eating a lot more eggs lately, especially since cutting out GF oatmeal and other GF grains. Eggs are relatively cheap protein, and since we get free-range eggs from friends with chickens they ought to be fairly healthy. However, the increase in joint pain this past week makes me wonder — am I reacting to the increase in eggs in my diet?

Need to get a handle on this so I can function again. In case I didn’t mention it before, I tried the medical route the last time my joints, especially my knees, were this painful. All the doctor wanted to do was throw — what are they called? NSAIDs? — drugs at the problem to mask the pain, and then when the damage had progressed far enough do knee replacement surgeries.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the medical people are out there and available with some sort of “solution.” I’d just like to avoid drugs (I looked up the side effects of what he prescribed. Scary.) and surgery if at all possible. I thought that the water kefir would be enough — it was enough, for months. But something has changed and so I’m changing my attack plan.

If something in my diet is causing the pain, and it’s as simple as changing my diet to eliminate the pain (or cut it way down to manageable levels once more), well then, I’d much rather do that than take pills which significantly increase my possibility of stroke and heart attack and I forget what else.

Have been egg-free for only a day — oops, no I haven’t. Mayo has egg in it. Will have to investigate homemade eggless mayo, if such a thing is possible.

Sigh. And yet, it’ll be worth it, if it works.

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GF Muffins That’ll Fool You!

…as in, they don’t taste gluten free. This is important for the Debater, who won’t eat anything that doesn’t taste real. As in, how things used to taste before she went GF.

Anyhow, it’s been something of a challenge to come up with food that she’ll eat, but through research, trial and error, and a process of refining, we’re getting there.

One of the things that works for us is this muffin recipe from celiac.com. I like it because it’s quick and easy, lends itself to making up ahead of time as a muffin mix, and is almost endlessly adaptable.

Here is one of our adaptations, which has become a family favorite:

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins

1-1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (I make my own; see below)
¼ cup flax seed meal (I grind my own in the Blendtec from seeds, but you can also buy it)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder (I use an aluminum-free brand)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut oil

Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in coconut oil until it resembles coarse meal. I do this in a Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment. Sometimes if I’m feeling efficient, I’ll make up several batches one at a time (I don’t feel confident enough in my GF baking to double/triple/quadruple/multiply the recipe), putting each one in a zip-top plastic bag, which I then label and put in the freezer. The last batch, I go ahead and make into muffins.

Add 1 cup lemon juice (fresh-squeezed is best) and 2 eggs. Stir until mixed and then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Toss 1 cup blueberries with a little flour, and stir in by hand. Spoon into prepared muffin cups. (I use silicone muffin cups, so I don’t have to do anything to prepare them. I suppose you can generously grease a muffin tin, or use paper liners, something I haven’t done in two years, since I bought the reusable silicone liners.) This recipe makes about 12 large muffins.

The girls like it if I sprinkle the tops of the muffins with raw sugar crystals before baking.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If your oven is anything like mine, that means you’ll end up baking the muffins for 35 to 40 minutes before they’re done.

Gluten Free Flour Mix

Currently, my homemade gluten free flour mix consists of:
1 part brown rice flour
1 part white rice flour
1 part starch (usually two starches combined, like 1/2 tapioca and 1/2 arrowroot or cornstarch)

What’s your favorite muffin flavor?

GF Fruit Cobbler (Easy!)

Well, it’s really Wednesday, so this probably shouldn’t be tagged “If it’s Tuesday, it must be gluten-free!” I’m a day behind myself this week. We’re passing a cold around, and this morning I woke up to discover I’m it.

Something comforting is in order, I think.

The basic idea for this cobbler comes from More-with-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre. I’m on my second copy, and it’s getting pretty tattered, so I handle it gingerly. It’s not a gluten-free cookbook, but I’ve been able to adapt some of the recipes so far. The recipes are pretty simple and basic, and this is the cookbook (along with Laurel’s Kitchen, during a mostly vegetarian phase) that taught me most of what I know about cooking from scratch. This is the cookbook that taught me to make chocolate pudding without the pudding package from the store. This is also the cookbook that fueled our love affair with cobbler — especially made with fresh-picked wild blackberries, but also great with blueberries or peaches or any combination of berries and peaches.

My quick-and-sloppy GF flour mix works well in this recipe. (See below.)

Fresh, canned or frozen fruit, it doesn’t matter. This cobbler always comes out right. You make the batter first and pour it into the baking dish, sprinkle fruit over the top, and bake. The fruit sinks to the bottom, the batter rises to the top, light and fluffy, and bakes to a lovely golden brown while filling the house with an enticing fragrance. I doubled the recipe to serve the five of us (people around here are greedy when it comes to cobbler), and it disappears quickly. I cut it up into six portions and put one away for Dad’s lunchbox.

Easy GF Fruit Cobbler
based on Quick Fruit Cobbler from More-with-Less

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10″ x 13″ baking pan. Mix the following ingredients, beat until smooth, and pour into pan, spreading to the edges. It’ll make a thin layer.

1 cup sugar (I can cut this by almost half and still get a fairly decent result)
1 cup GF flour mix
1 cup milk (I’ve tried regular milk, raw milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk by turns. They all work.)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt

Now it’s time for the fruit! You can make an all-one-kind cobbler (we often do, especially when we’ve just come back from berry-picking), or you can mix different fruits. This recipe is very forgiving — it takes fresh, canned, or frozen fruit. I’d drain canned fruit first, if I were you. If you use frozen fruit, your baking time is going to be somewhat longer. How long? I can’t tell you. We pretty much tell when it’s done by peeking in the oven when we can’t stand the wonderful smell any longer. When it’s golden-brown-and-delicious (is that Rachel Ray?), it’s ready to eat.

We haven’t tried this with apples, yet, as we usually make Apple Crisp or baked apples or apple pie with those.

You want your fruit in somewhat even pieces, although I’ve been known to slice peaches (or use canned sliced peaches) and lay them in a pretty pattern, before sprinkling with blueberries or blackberries.

Scatter about 4 cups of fruit across the surface of the cobbler. Bake about 40 minutes. It’s really good served warm with cream, whipped cream, or ice cream. In the unlikely event you have any left over, it makes a great breakfast, cold.

Quick GF Flour Mix

My quickly cobbled-together flour mix, that works well for simple scratch recipes, contains approximately:

1/2 cup rice flour (white or brown seem to work about the same)
1/4 cup tapioca or corn starch
1/4 cup sorghum flour or millet flour

Mix these together before you add them to the rest of the ingredients.

What’s quick about it is that it seems to work well even if I don’t measure carefully. GF flours can be unforgiving. You don’t want to pack them down in the measuring cup. You don’t usually want to scoop them from the flour container with a measuring cup; you want to scoop them gently into the cup and level off, not pack down. However, with this mix I just stick the 1/2 or 1/4 cup measure into the flour/starch I’m grabbing and lightly scoop it up, scrape the excess off the top of the cup with the blade of a knife, and dump it into the mix.

Gluten-free Apple Crisp

As I mentioned last week, I ran out of all four versions of my homemade GF flour mix. I had four containers, all slightly different recipes, one each for four different recipe sources (three cookbooks, one online site). I wrote the ingredients for each mix right on the container, for ease of refilling, and I have the ingredients in plastic bags in a couple of rodent-free/insect-resistant bins and in the freezer, but I just haven’t got around to the refilling part.

(In case you were wondering, Bob’s Red Mill is within driving distance. It’s a fair amount of time and gas, so we only go every two or three months, but we’re able to stock up on GF flours and starches from the bulk bins, which helps cut our costs.)

Anyhow, I mentioned last week that two of our adapted recipes use an easy-to-stir-up flour mix. They don’t even need xanthan or guar gum. Just three or four ingredients, and the mix is so forgiving that I don’t even measure all that carefully.

(Just so you know, GF flours and starches are a little different when it comes from measuring. You want to spoon them lightly into measuring cups, or for better accuracy, weigh them. This mix, below, that I use for crepes and apple crisp, I pretty much scoop, but it doesn’t much seem to matter.)

The other thing you need to know about apple crisp is that oatmeal is an important ingredient. Without the oatmeal, it just doesn’t taste like the apple crisp I’ve made over the years. Thus one of the things I buy from Bob’s is certified gluten-free oats.

Apple Crisp

4-6 apples, or enough to fill your casserole when cut up leaving about an inch for topping
2 TBS rice flour or starch (corn, potato, tapioca)
1/2 to 1 cup sugar (we like raw cane sugar — use more with tart apples, less with sweet apples)
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon (most recipes call for the smaller amount, but we like a good bite of cinnamon taste)
pinch salt
Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries (you can cut down or even eliminate the sugar in the apple filling if you choose to do this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease casserole dish or spray with baking spray.

Wash apples. Core, peel (if not organic) and cut up into chunks. Mix flour or starch with sugar and cinnamon and toss with apples until apples are coated with mixture.

1 cup GF flour mix
1 cup certified GF rolled oats
1 cup sugar (again, you can use less if you like — I’ve cut this by as much as a half)
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon (see note about cinnamon, above)
pinch salt
1/2 to 1 cup butter or coconut oil

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in fat with pastry blender, two table knives, or a fork. (A pastry blender makes this a quick process.) You should end up with a crumbly mixture. Spread on top of casserole. Bake at 350F for about an hour, or until bubbly and apples are tender when pierced.

Best served warm, but pretty good when cold, too. We can do dairy, so we like to pour cream over the top of hot apple crisp, or top with whipped cream, or serve with ice cream.

Quick GF Flour Mix

My quickly cobbled-together flour mix, that works well for crepes as well as apple crisp, contains approximately:

1/2 cup rice flour (white or brown seem to work about the same)
1/4 cup tapioca or corn starch
1/4 cup sorghum flour

Final words

With apples in season and the weather turning colder, this is the perfect recipe for breakfast, or afternoon teatime, or dessert. It fills the house with an amazing apple-cinnamon smell while baking, and it’s a great waker-upper to get our girls out of bed on a dark, dreary, rainy morning when otherwise they’d be tempted to turn over and go back to sleep.

Natural homemade deodorant

Perhaps you’ve read about all the uses for vinegar, besides salad dressing. It’s a great degreaser and mild sanitizer, for one thing. Mix it half-and-half with water and you can wash windows or kitchen counters or other surfaces.

Did you know that apple cider vinegar used to be used as a deodorant in the olden days?

I’d been having trouble for years with allergies. I’d try one formulation, and it would work for awhile, and then I’d get an itchy rash in my underarm area. Very uncomfortable, as you can imagine! I’d switch to another, and either it wouldn’t work (ah, don’t you just hate deodorant failure?), or a few weeks or months after switching, the itchy rash would resurface, and it would be time to switch again.

Mind you, these were just deodorants! I had sworn off antiperspirants even earlier, after reading about the connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s. But how can you get along in our society with… to put it delicately, more or less… B.O.?

(European society, at least as I recall it, wasn’t quite as uptight about odor as American society. But we live in a place now where people shower daily, sometimes oftener — especially if they are runners or bikers — and everyone seems to use deodorant, except perhaps the homeless among us.)

After natural crystal deodorant went the same route as the others (It’s not fair! it’s natural, for goodness’ sake! Or maybe not for goodness’ sake. It didn’t do me any good, after awhile.) I was getting desperate.

Then I remembered something I’d read in an old-fashioned book, about elderly women smelling faintly of vinegar. (Not because they were elderly, per se, but as they were elderly they were more old-fashioned in their methods.) I began to wonder…

…and then I began to experiment.

To make a long story short, I’ve found that cider vinegar in a 4 oz. spray bottle works very well indeed. It even smells fairly nice, as I add ten drops or so of lavender and lemon essential oils to each batch I make up.

It works about as well as any commercial product I’ve used, and better than a lot of them. The vinegar smell wears off soon after spraying, leaving just a faint whiff of lavender and lemon behind. The effect lasts all day long.

So if you’re desperate to smell fresh, and unable to use anything but rather expensive natural products (and maybe can’t even use those), try apple cider vinegar. Add a little of your favorite essential oil to personalize it, and you’re on your way.