Monday, February 28, 2011

Julie's Refined Sugar Free Candied Yams

Ever since we had Thanksgiving at my sister Julie's house, my son has been begging me to make "Juju's yams".   Julie insisted on reinventing this old family favorite without refined sugars so we could all enjoy the meal.  She's been nurturing my son since birth, including the early years when he was up every night, frequently with fire running through his legs (growing pains the doctors would call it) caused by inflammation from food and an endocrine system in need of help.  She's seen first hand the difference food can make, and is one of the growing number of mental health counselors who recognize that problems in the body can create problems in the mind.  She helps children, teens and families work through anxiety, depression, trauma and grief in Vancouver, Washington.  She helped me through many a dark day as I navigated through a medical system that did not recognize gluten sensitivity or prescribe the right food to solve your problems.  I am truly blessed to have her as a sister.

Here is her famous yam recipe:


1 1/2 lbs yams
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg (optional)
1/4 cup honey or agave
oil for pan


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease bottom on a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish (you may need an extra dish for overflow depending on how you slice the yams).  Peel yams and cut into 2 to 3 inch wedges and line them up in the baking dish.  Gently pour orange juice over the yams, taking care to drizzle over each slice.  Sprinkle on cinnamon and nutmeg, if using.  Drizzle with honey or agave.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until yams are cooked through.  Serves 4.  Source:

This recipe is linked to Tasty Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Real Food Weekly, Food on Fridays, Fight Back Friday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kale: an easy recipe that will blow your socks off

Sometimes inspiration comes at the funniest times.  Late into last fall, when the kale in my garden had finally given up, I picked some up at my favorite grocery store, Lifesource Natural Foods.  Todd, one of the many friendly and helpful employees there, admired the beauty of the kale and asked how I was going to prepare it.  A smoothie, I said, although with the nip in the air, that was sounding less appealing every day.  He suggested sauteing it in sesame oil and soy sauce, and explained the longer it cooks, the better it gets.  He definitely got my attention, as that seemed to contradict everything I know about cooking vegetables.

Purple Kale
I've been enjoying this recipe ever since, beefing up on my vitamin K2 intake and reducing my risk of cancer.   I'm both proud and embarrassed to admit I've eaten a entire bunch of kale in one sitting because I love this recipe so much!  Thank you Todd, and all of the employees at Lifesource who have taken such good care of me and my family since we've switched to a gluten, dairy and sugar free diet.


1 bunch kale, washed and roughly chopped, stems removed
2 tbsp sesame oil (or unrefined coconut oil)
1 tbsp gluten free tamari (or coconut aminos)
optional garnish:  toasted sesame seeds


Heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add kale.  Saute for about five minutes stirring as needed to prevent burning.  Turn down heat to medium.  Cook over medium heat for 15 to 25 more minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.  Stir as needed to prevent burning.  A couple of minutes before cooking is finished, add tamari and mix well.  Serves 3 normal people or 1 kale fanatic.  Source:

This post has been shared with Fight Back FridayFood on FridaysKale Week, and Monday Mania.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Food Sensitivities, Mental Illness and a New Recipe

I'd like to introduce a friend of mine, Nancy Ludwig.  We met about a year ago at a public lecture, "Food Sensitivities and Mental Illness", where she presented information about the connection between the two.  I kicked off the event with my personal story of helping my son overcome anxiety through diet.

Nancy Ludwig, M.S., R.D., L.D. 
Last Friday, I was wishing Nancy could've been a guest on Oprah.  In case you missed it, Oprah interviewed Laurie, a mother whose son, Zach, has violent rages, hears voices and has sensory processing issues.  The point of the story was to highlight how the family has coped.  Zach has been taught to focus on positive energy and to resist the negative.  It seems to be helping, but not enough to keep him out of a special school for mentally ill children or from hearing voices.  When Zach was interviewed, it was hard to miss his facial tics and red ears, two red flags that he should be tested for food sensitivities, among other things.  As I watched, I waited and hoped someone would say something about this.  While I believe in the power of positive thought, I was disappointed when medical intervention (other than prescription drug treatment) wasn't mentioned.

  Over 20 years ago, Donahue did a show featuring a number of children who became violent, sad, depressed, anxious, or simply difficult to be around, upon eating certain foods.  Dr. Doris Rapp, an environmental medicine and allergy specialist, was interviewed and explained that some people have these types of reactions to food and/or things in the environment.  The opening segment shows a boy with Tourette's who becomes violent upon exposure to tomatoes.

If I could speak to Laurie, here's what I would recommend to her:

(1)  Find a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) Doctor, holistic M.D., or alternative care provider.  Although Zach may not meet the diagnosis for autism, problems like mood swings, tics, Tourette's, OCD, Asperger's, and ADHD can be helped through a similar protocol that examines food sensitivities, vitamin and mineral difficiencies, gastrointestinal imbalances (yeast and bacteria overgrowth, insufficient enzyme or acid production, etc.), adrenal and thyroid problems, and heavy metals and environmental allergy testing.

(2)  Take advantage of the following books:
(3)  Zach's red ears may be a sign he is not able to process the phenols in his food.  This could also be affecting his behavior.  For more information about phenols and how to avoid them, visit the Feingold Association or Talk About Curing Autism.

Thai Green Curry with Vegetables and Chicken
Thai Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Back to my friend, Nancy.  One of her passions is helping people with food sensitivities.  She generously shared a recipe with me from her recent cooking class, "A World of Gluten Free Grains."  I served it up with brown basmati rice.  Whole grain millet or quinoa would also be delicious.


1 can coconut milk (full fat: 14 fl oz)
1-2 tbsp green curry paste (Thai Kitchen is GF)
1-2 tbsp fish sauce (1 tbsp seemed plenty to me)
2  skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped cabbage
1/2 cup frozen peas (I used fresh snow peas)
2 to 4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped


Combine coconut milk, curry paste and fish sauce in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add chicken and chicken broth to the sauce.  Simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add cabbage, mushrooms, pepper and peas.  Simmer 2 minutes or until heated through.  Garnish with fresh basil and serve.  Serves 2 to 3.  Source:

GF Cooking Class in Salem, Oregon

Nancy is teaching more cooking classes at Vida Family Medicine in Salem, Oregon:

  • February 24:  Creating Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) Soups and Sauces:  Create variations on a basic white sauce without dairy or gluten.
  • March 31:  Embracing Greens:  Explore common and novel uses for nutritious greens.
  • April 28:   Un-cheese and egg-less:  Explore common egg replacers and nutritious approaches to cheese sauce and soup.
Each class costs $20.  To register, call 503-588-1400.

This post is linked to Hearth and Soul Hop, Tasty Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent TuesdayReal Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Real Food Weekly.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Real Food Chocolate Power Bars with Three Ingredients

It's been hard to miss all the power bar recipes floating around modeled after Elana Amsterdam's recipe published a couple of years ago.   I've been intrigued with the idea myself, after spending much of my 20's snacking on the processed type of power bar to get me through the day at work.  Had I read the ingredient label (this was way before I had any clue how much food matters), I would have found 24 ingredients, including a fair amount of dairy and soy.

This is my version of the power bar, in ball form.  It's chewy, with just the right amount of sweetness.  And, surprisingly, it does taste a lot like the chocolate power bar I used to eat.  My taste testers gave it a thumbs up, rating it even higher than my chocolate peanut butter truffles.   Since it only contains three ingredients, the quality of those is crucial.  The cashews and dates should be fresh (nuts can go rancid after a period of time if not refrigerated or frozen).  My favorite raw cacao powder is made by Holy Kakow.


1 cup raw cashews
1 cup fresh medjool dates, pits removed
3 tbsp raw cacao powder


Process cashews in a food processor into a fine meal, about 30 to 60 seconds.  Add cacao powder and process until mixed.  Add dates and process until dates are finely chopped.  Form into walnut size balls with your hand, or using a melon baller.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.  Makes about 12.  Source:

A Report on Fluoride and Your Health

On an unrelated note, there is a move to end fluoridation of public water supplies in the United States.  I, personally, use a reverse osmosis water filter to remove the fluoride from our water at the advice of our doctor.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is already lowering the acceptable amount of fluoride allowed due to an epidemic of dental fluorosis among American teens.   For more information and to have your voice heard, visit Dr. Mercola's site, and/or contact your local government officials.

This post is linked to Monday Mania, Tasty Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent TuesdayReal Food Wednesday, Food on FridaysFight Back Friday and Seasonal Sundays.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Carob Molasses Fudge

As I write this I'm warming myself with a cup of peppermint hot chocolate made with raw cacao powder.  Filled with antioxidants and minerals, this is a treat I don't feel guilty about.  However, Naomi, of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried, is hosting "Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free" this month and challenges her readers to think outside of the February chocolate laden box.  This is actually not a problem for me because chocolate has not always been my friend.  It happens to be a trigger food for many, and one that should be excluded on an elimination diet.

The following recipe is packed with B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and healthy fats.  I find carob powder and chia seeds in the bulk spice section of my natural foods store for a fraction of the cost of raw cacao powder.  I added the chia seeds for extra nutrition, but they also add a little crunch, sort of like the fig seeds in a fig newton.  For a smoother texture, omit the chia seeds and add only enough honey to hold the dry ingredients together.


3 cups almond flour
1/3 cup raw carob powder
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/8 tsp sea or mineral salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp raw honey or agave
1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
2 tsp blackstrap molasses


Mix the first four ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix the honey, oil and molasses in a separate bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.  Pour into an 8 inch by 8 inch glass container and pat down with the back of a spoon.  Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.  Cut into squares and serve.  Source:

This recipe has been shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty TuesdayReal Food Wednesday, and Pennywise Platter Thursday.
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