Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Food Fairy is Real

Imagine getting up in the morning, going outside to pick up the paper, and finding breakfast, lunch and dinner, neatly packed in a cooler, waiting on your doorstep.  No, this is not a dream.  

Chef by Request, based in Washington state, prepares fresh meals for residents in Washington state, parts of Western Oregon and the San Francisco Bay Area.  They specialize in the zone and paleo diets, which are comprised of 40% carbohydrate, 30% lean protein, and 30% favorable fats.  The zone diet is designed to give you the right mix of foods to keep insulin levels steady, and prevent afternoon fatigue.  The paleo diet excludes grains, dairy, soy and legumes, using animal based protein.  My Chef by Request can make meals free of:  gluten, dairy, soy, egg, corn, fish, shellfish, sugar, yeast, and nuts.

I sampled their meals for a week and was impressed with the quality and taste of the food.  Breakfast varied from eggs, omelettes, sausage, gluten free oatmeal, fruit and yogurt.  Lunch was typically a salad with an ample portion of vegetables, some beans and an adequate topping of meat to keep me from getting hungry in the afternoon.  An energy bar and a high protein snack were provided each day.  For dinner, the usual fare was meat with steamed vegetables.  Everything was cooked, only requiring a gentle heating in the oven.  

I requested dairy, gluten and beef free meals, and experienced only one slip up on the beef.  This is one of the pitfalls of eating out anywhere, whether in a restaurant, a friend's house or ordering through a personal chef.  It's important to recognize the risk of human error, and weigh the costs and benefits of having meals prepared for you.

I figured the service saved me two to four hours per day in meal planning, shopping, preparation, and clean up.  The cost per day for My Chef by Request is $18 to $40 per day, depending on the meal program and calorie level.  When you figure the cost of food you regularly buy combined with the cost of your time, it's a pretty good deal.

This type of service would be nice for anyone with a busy schedule, and especially valuable in these situations:  (1) a college aged child who needs help with meals, (2) newly diagnosed with food sensitivities and not enough time to prepare meals, (3) vacation or business trip where locating or transporting food will be difficult, (4) hospital stay,  and (5) special gift for a busy friend or relative with food sensitivities.

There are personal chefs and food delivery services who will accommodate special diets around the globe.  A couple are listed on this site:  the Holistic Kitchen in Arizona and the Gluten Free Chef in Oregon.  If you are interested in such a service, try a google search to find one in your area.  Or, if you know someone who is doing a great job accommodating special diets, leave a comment. 

Another option is to have meals shipped to you.  The following companies will ship your meals frozen to anywhere in the United States.  Each provides ingredient lists for their products online:

Everybody Eats, a nut and gluten free facility, cooks pizza, pasta, desserts and breads in New York.

Your Dinner Secret delivers gluten and casein free meals.



This post originally appeared in March, 2010.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Refined Sugar Free Hot Chocolate and Peppermint

It's a cold wintery day in Oregon where I live.  The windows have been pelted with rain all day, and my small dog Toby has been holding it for 12 hours now.  He has amazing bladder control in foul weather.


Unable to muster the motivation to brave the cold and crowds at Costco this afternoon, I decided a cup of hot cocoa was in order.  It was just what I needed.  I wish I could share it with Toby.  I think it would help him, too.


Five years ago, I made hot chocolate with a powdered mix and milk.  I'm not sure I would've liked this recipe.   My taste buds were used to refined sugars.  Now I use hemp milk at the suggestion of my doctor, because of the healthy fats it contains.  It's also really, really creamy, especially for hot chocolate.  And, in case you are wondering, according to the manufacturer, it contains no THC.


I usually make hot chocolate without measurements.  I pour the milk into a saucepan and add raw cacao powder and agave until it tastes right.  Today, I measured it out so I could share it with you.  My husband thinks I make it a little strong, so beware.  Carob powder may be used as a substitute for the chocolate, but the following measurements may need adjusting for the taste difference.


Ingredients:


1 1/2 cup hemp milk (I use Pacific Foods Original Flavor)
2 tbsp raw cacao powder (I like Holykakow or Dagoba)
3 tbsp agave
1/4 tsp peppermint extract




Directions:


Pour hemp milk in small saucepan and turn heat up to medium.  Add cacao powder and agave.  Stir until well mixed.  Turn up heat until mixture is desired temperature.  Add peppermint and serve immediately.  Serves one.  Source:  www.foodsensitivityjournal.com


This recipe was shared with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free for Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, and Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gluten Free Fig Newton Truffles

You could say I have a thing for truffles.  What's not to love?  They are easy and quick to make.  You can fill them with nutritious ingredients and make what could be considered a snack seem like dessert.  And, finally, the available taste combinations, such as Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cashew Macadamia, are as varied as your imagination.  Which brings me to today's post.  


Ah, the Fig Newton.  I grew up in the 70's and Fig Newtons, along with Nilla Wafers were almost always stocked in our kitchen.  Soft, chewy and sweet, a comfort food that came along on trips and many swim meets.  I haven't had one in what seems like forever, but the taste and texture are embedded in my mind.  These truffles remind me of the old days in a good way.  I hope you enjoy them, too.


Ingredients:


1 cup raw almonds
1 cup dried black figs, ends trimmed off
1/3 cup agave nectar or raw honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
3 tbsp almond flour
3 tbsp date or coconut sugar


Directions:


Process almonds in a food processor with blade attachment until they reach the consistency of meal.  Coarsely chop figs.  Add figs to food processor and process until finely minced.  Add agave or honey, vanilla and salt, if using and process well.  The mixture should gather into a ball.  Use a melon baller, or just your hands, and form into balls.  Mix almond flour and sugar in a bowl.  Roll each ball in flour/sugar mix until coated well.  These can be eaten right away, but taste best cold.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Makes 12 truffles.  Source:  www.foodsensitivityjournal.com

This recipe has been shared with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free for Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, and Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for Tasty Tuesday.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sesame Green Beans

The green beans at my grocery story are beautiful around this time of year.  This is a simple way to prepare them, using sesame seeds to add a nutty flavor and extra crunch.  Sesame seeds are also an excellent source of calcium, making them a great addition to a dairy free diet.


Green beans taste best to me when they are firm.  To test and see if they are done, I use a fork to see if there is a slight give, and then taste one just to make sure they are done.  Incidentally, my gluten free dog really enjoys green beans, and I know I've nailed the recipe when I can hear the crunch of the green beans in his mouth!  He is also enjoying the benefits of a gluten free diet.  After suffering for years with skin problems, he is now mostly itch free.


Ingredients:


1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tsp unrefined toasted sesame oil
sea salt to taste


Directions:


Gently toast the sesame seeds in a frying pan over low heat, until lightly browned.  Steam beans in a steamer for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how crisp you like them.  Place green beans in a serving bowl and toss with sesame oil.  Add toasted sesame seeds and mix.  Add sea salt to taste.  Source:  www.foodsensitivityjournal.com

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Truffles are a wonderful way to mix natural whole food ingredients for a healthier dessert.  In this recipe, I used roasted, salted peanuts, but raw nuts have healthier fats if you have access to them.  My favorite local raw cacao powder is HolyKakow.  Dagoba produces a quality, great tasting powder as well. 


Ingredients:


2 1/4 cups peanuts, divided
1/2 cup raw honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
2 tbsp natural peanut butter, creamy and salted
 
Variation:  Reduce agave/honey to 1/3 cup and cacao powder to 1/4 cup to make the peanut taste stand out.


Directions:


Grind 1/4 cup of the peanuts in food processor with blade attachment just until there are no large pieces.  Pour into a separate bowl and set aside.  Place two cups peanuts in food processor and process until there are no big pieces.  Add cacao powder and mix.  Add honey or agave and peanut butter and mix well.  Place mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to make it easier to work with.   Form mixture into small balls, about the size of a walnut.  Use a melon baller if you would like a uniform size.  Roll the balls between your palms until smooth, and set aside until all are shaped.  Sprinkle with ground peanuts and serve.  Refrigerate left overs in sealed container.  Makes 18 truffles.  Source:  www.foodsensitivityjournal.com


This recipe is linked to: She Let Them Eat Cake for the "12 days of gluten free Christmas cookies" event,  Simply Sugar and Gluten Free for Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for Tasty Tuesday, At the Well for Tempt My Tummy Tuesday,  A Moderate Life for Hearth and Sole Hop, and the Food Renegade for Fight Back Friday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

I've been having a lot of fun experimenting with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oat Flour since it started appearing in my natural foods store earlier this year.  I am able to use it in some baked goods without having to mix it with other flours.  Not only does this make life easier, but it also helps if you are following a rotation diet, and you don't want to eat the same grains each day.   Rotating foods helps prevent the development of further food sensitivities.  In addition, oat flour is a good source of protein, selenium, magnesium and iron.


The following was inspired by a lovely recipe for pumpkin pancakes at Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.


Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups gluten free oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup apple sauce
1 egg
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp pure maple syrup



Directions:
In a medium size blow, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  In a small blow, mix together the egg, apple juice, apple sauce, coconut oil and maple syrup.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.  Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium to medium/high heat.  Coat pan with oil to prevent sticking.  Once pan is hot, pour pancakes using 1/4 cup measurements.  Flip when bubbles form.  Makes about 14 pancakes.  Source:  www.foodsensitivityjournal.com

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gluten Free Teriyaki Chicken at Home, Sweet, Home

Living gluten free brought my relationship with food front and center in my life.  I live and breathe to fill my family with organic, healthy, gluten free food.  For the most part, it's been a blessing to find out the reason for our health problems.  But the days of stopping off to get take out at our local teriyaki joint, Love Love Teriyaki, after a busy day are long gone.  The soy sauce they marinate their meats in contains wheat.  We were regulars at this small family business, our faces and orders familiar.  And then one day, we were gone.  It was like we fell off the face of the earth.


But, alas, we've found a couple places we can safely eat in my home town of Salem, Oregon.  Marco Polo Global Restaurant offers an entire gluten free menu, with most items dairy free as well.  We've also had good luck eating gluten and dairy free at Chipotle, a mexican grill chain restaurant.  Recently, I've learned of four new places in my community who offer gluten free options: Alcyone Cafe and Catering , The Cherry City Cafe,  Kwan's Original Cuisine and an old favorite, Venti's Cafe is in the process of adjusting their menu to reflect new gluten free options.  Kudos to those restaurants who are reworking their ingredients to provide more options for gluten free customers.


For now, when the teriyaki cravings hit, here's my recipe:


Ingredients:
2 medium size chicken breasts (1 to 1 1/4 lbs), cut into bite size strips
1/2 cup mirin rice cooking wine (I use Eden brand)
1/2 cup gluten free tamari
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp agave
1 tbsp pineapple juice
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sweet rice flour (use arrowroot for grain free diets)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup napa or savoy cabbage, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup carrot, julienne cut


Directions:
In medium size bowl, mix together mirin, tamari, vinegar, agave, pineapple juice, garlic and ginger.  Add chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to a few hours.  Heat wok or large heavy frying pan to medium, high heat.  Add sesame oil and swirl to cover pan.  Using a slotted spoon, add chicken to hot pan and reserve marinade in bowl.  Stir fry chicken until it is cooked through.  Mix water and sweet rice flour in a small bowl.  Add to marinade.  Add marinade to pan and bring to a boil.  Add carrots.  Turn down temperature until the sauce is simmering.  Let simmer 3 to 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened.  Turn off heat and stir in cabbage.  Let sit for a couple of minutes until cabbage is wilted.  Serve over brown rice pad thai noodles (pictured), or whole grain brown rice, quinoa or millet.  Serves 2 to 3.  Source:  www.foodsensitivityjournal.com


Well I think it's about time for me to go talk to the owners of Love, Love Teriyaki and fill them in on our whereabouts.  I hope by doing so to raise awareness that more and more people are turning to gluten free diets.  I want more safe options to be available for me and my family.  Maybe if we all talk to just one restaurant, we could help raise awareness about this important issue.  Are you in?


Join Simply Sugar and Gluten Free's Slightly Indulgent Tuesday event for more recipes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gluten Free Calzone

One of the challenges of following a gluten and dairy free diet has been coming up with a good pizza recipe for "pizza Friday" which happens every week at my son's school.  After many different attempts, this recipe is a favorite for both pizza and calzone.  I like to make the calzones in advance and freeze them for later use.  They can easily be packed for school and reheated at lunchtime.

Ingredients:

For the dough:
1 package 
Chebe pizza crust mix
1 cup almond flour plus extra for rolling out*
2 eggs
3/4 cup rice milk
2 tbsp canola or other allowed oil
*for nut free, make dough according to Chebe package directions.


For the sauce:
7 ounces no salt added tomato paste (my favorite is Bionaturae Organic Tomato Paste)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp rosemary



For the filling:
Suggestions:   pepperoni, sausage, tomato, olive, onion, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, and cheese. Daiya shredded nondairy mozzarella and cheddar cheese is soy free, and works great for pizza.


Directions:


Mix together ingredients for tomato sauce in a small bowl and set aside.  Prepare meats, vegetables and any other items for the filling.

Mix together eggs, oil and milk in a large bowl.  Mix Chebe pizza crust mix and almond flour in a separate bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well with a spoon or fork.  Knead with your hands until dough forms a nice smooth ball.  If the dough is too wet and sticky, add a little more almond flour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Divide dough into five equal parts (four if using no almond flour), and form into balls.  On a floured surface, roll out each ball with a rolling pin to the point where it is thin, but can still be manipulated without breaking.  Spread a layer of sauce over half of the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Add meats, vegetables and any other desired fillings on top of the layer of sauce.  Fold top half over bottom half and fold and pinch edge to create a seal.  Place on greased baking sheet, and repeat for other 4 dough balls.

In the pictured calzones above, I used Road's End Organics Gluten Free Cheddar Style Chreese on top for a cheezy flavor, and used no cheese in the filling.

Bake calzones for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned.  Makes five calzones.
  Source: www.foodsensitivityjournal.com
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