Monday, August 31, 2009

Soy Story

I want to thank Jennifer for her question on my last post Vegetarian-ish. There are so many things I avoid in terms of food that I loose track of what I have covered.

When it comes to vegetarianism I believe soy to be the element that commonly gives this lifestyle a a downward spin. Soy is heavily relied on as a health food, especially where meat in avoided.

So here is why I avoid soy in a nutshell;

Almost all soy is GMO - they have this pesticide called "round -up" that is super toxic and kills everything in a field. They have genetically modified soy (and other crops) to withstand this harsh chemical. Aside from that gruesome fact, soy is super high in phytic acid, anti nutrients and inhibitors that create problems with mineral absorption and digestion, with longer term affects of cancer, infertility, thyroid problems, autoimmune diseases and stunted growth. When soy beans undergo processing, their fragile proteins are denatured. Toxins and carcinogens are formed along with MSG and aluminum.
There is tons of technical terms that I avoided that would add about 10 more reasons that it is bad for you. With fairytale marketers any food can appear to be an amazing super food. Do research, pay attention to your body, use new products in moderation and be skeptical of anything a company is pushing on you as they are in it for the money.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vegetarian-ish

That's what I'm calling it. Not extreme like vegitarianism, but similar in principle. I make a conscious effort to generally center meals around whole grains/beans, vegetables and fruit. Good quality fish, eggs and dairy are all nourishing animal products that are often included. While the Lord gave us dominion over animals he also commanded that meat should be used sparingly and who knows how to nourish our bodies better than our own maker?

I took a trip back home to Iowa this month where hamburgers (grain fed beef) and sweet corn (GMO) is the meal of the season. We mixed it up a bit with a pork tenderloin or rotisserie chicken then ate fresh garden vegetables in between, but it sure was a lot of meat! And my body complained. Not good.

I make a conscious effort to avoid meat when possible, I use good quality meat in small amounts once a day or less. I am not fanatic, just conscious. Our society is so reliant on meat as a staple that it has become a disgusting industry all about producing the largest cow in the shortest amount of time. This is the kind of meat that adorns the dinner tables of most Americans and is best to be avoided when ever possible.

Be mindful on your journey not to compensate for lack of meat with more processed foods and soy replacements, this is a step in the wrong direction. TVP, tofu and soybean oil are all much, much worse than a juicy burger even though they are found in the health food section, health food they are not.

Check out my new link to the right to find recipes on my blog that are vegetarian-ish.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home-Sprouted Flour

In the process of experimenting with soaking grains for added nutritional benefits, I have come across some instances where it is not always possible. Sometimes a little more flour is needed at the end or there is no liquid in the recipe to begin with, other times I have just not thought ahead sufficiently. A healthy solution is to use sprouted flour which is whole grain that has been sprouted, dehydrated and ground, preferably right before use.

Sprouting changes the composition of starch molecules, converting them into vegetable sugars, so the body recognizes and digests sprouted grains as a vegetable. Enzymes are also created that aid digestion, complex sugars are broken down which can eliminate painful gas, and vitamin and mineral levels increase. Furthermore, sprouting neutralizes carcinogens and enzyme inhibitors, as phytic acid that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.

I have stayed away from sprouted flour because it is expensive to buy/ship and hard to find. Mostly, I am skeptical of the quality because I know how quickly flour looses it's nutrition once milled and going through a storage/buying/shipping/process takes a lot of time. Not to mention keeping it on hand for months as you need it. So when I found out I could do it at home, I decided to go for it.

The steps are simple if you have ever sprouted any grain. I used kamut and spelt my first time because I have had great success in sprouting those. I started in the afternoon and soaked the grains in half-filled quart jars, covered with filtered water. In the morning I rinsed them 3 times, swirling each time. I put a cut piece of cheese cloth held on by a jar band (could also use clean pantyhose.) This made it easy to dump the water each time while keeping the grain in the jar. I then let them drain tilted top down in a large bowl. I repeated the rinse in the afternoon and just before bed they had sprouted. Just a short white tail growing out of one end. I rinsed again and spread out in a thin layer on sheet pans. I set my oven to the dehydrate setting at 110 degrees and left them overnight. In the morning they were completely dry and ready to mill.

I only mill as needed and store the rest whole to preserve nutrition. Under these instructions, this flour is a raw food. Most ovens do not have a setting under 170. While this cooks the grain, which effects the enzymes, I feel this is still a worthwhile process. Most flour you are using for baking purposes, thus cooking the flour in the end anyway. I have not experimented much with the end result, but as I use this nutritious flour in recipes I will report back.

Do you use sprouted flour? If so, do you have any tips?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Marinara Sauce

The perfect marinara is all about balance: salt, sweet, a hint of spice with fresh acidic notes. When the tomato sauce is center stage, the flavor must be top notch. If you are enjoying tomatoes galore right now, this recipe can be used with fresh tomatoes by doubling the cooking time and using the full 6 oz. of tomato paste for 4 cups peeled tomatoes. On the other hand, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs when fresh are not available. To taste a slammin' marinara, buzz by my favorite restaurant Red, White & Brew, they were my inspiration on this one.


What is your perfect marinara?


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1-2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes (optional)

1 medium yellow onion, diced fine

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

28 ounce can Muir Glen crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sucanat

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 teaspoon salt


Saute onion in olive oil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste, sugar, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Slammin' Marinara Sauce on Foodista

Friday, August 14, 2009

One Grain at a Time

--Amaranth--

A versatile, gluten free grain with a rich history.This small, yellow seed was quickly recognized by early Aztecs as a power food for their warriors. Amaranth is harvested from an attractive plant which grows like a weed and produces edible leaves that can be used like spinach. The grain itself has a mild grassy flavor that is especially wonderful toasted or popped.


To pop use a deep pot with no oil. Heat the pot and add a pinch to see of the pot is hot enough. If those pop without burning quickly, you have found the right heat (about medium high). Add no more than 2 tablespoons at once, quickly swirl around the pot until mostly popped and dump into a galss bowl before adding more. 1/4 cup will yield 1 cup of popped.


Cost:
20 cents a serving at $2.00 per lb.
1 lb = 2.2 cups dry = 5 cups cooked = 3 cups flour

To Cook:
1 cup grain to 3 cups water
Simmer 15 minutes, soaked

Simmer 45 minutes, unsoaked
Strain and rinse if desired

To Store:
-Whole - indefinitely in an air tight container in a cool, dry place.
For long term storage freeze for 48 hours before storing.
-Flour and popped grains - up to 2 weeks in an air tight container, or freeze up to 1 year.
-Cooked - refrigerate for up to 10 days, or freeze up to 6 months.

To Use:
-Grind in blender and cook for a nutritious baby food

-Use flour for thickening sauces and gravies
-Flour may be added to baked goods.

-Cook to make a hot breakfast cereal.Link
-Whole amaranth adds crunch to breads.

-Pop and use in breads, cookies, candies and salads.

Nutritional Value per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
Calories 371
Total fat 7 g
Dietary fiber 7 g
Protein 14 g
Carbohydrate 66 g
Thiamin 0.1 mg 8%
Riboflavin 0.2 mg 12%
Niacin 0.9 mg 5%
Vitamin B6 0.6 mg 30%
Folate 82mcg 21%

Pantothenic Acid 1.5 mg 15%

Calcium 159 mg 16%

Iron 7.6 mg 42%
Magnesium 248 mg 62%
Phosphorus 557 mg 56%
Potassium 508 mg 15%
Zinc 2.9 mg 19 %
Copper 0.5 mg 26%
Manganese 3.3 mg 167%
Selenium 18.7 mcg 27%

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Giveaway

If you haven't checked out Cultures for Health yet, you really, really need to. Fresh, live bacteria cultures are the ultimate health food. We live in a world of bleach and antibacterial hand soap which kill the good bacterias along with the bad. So replenish with some kefir, yogurt, sour dough starter, buttermilk or kombucha.

Enter to win 3 starter cultures at Kelly the Kitchen Cop, where real food ideas abound.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad


Sweet potatoes are super nutritious and extremely versatile. We love baked sweet potato fries and whipped sweet potatoes with cinnamon and butter, but have you tried them cold? Liberty Market in Gilbert has this awesome sweet potato salad that I have been working to recreate. I feel I am close enough to call it just as good even if it is not quite the same. It is slightly smoky, salty and sweet with a little kick.

The flavors take a few hours to marry, so this is best to make a day or two ahead. I love having a bowl of it ready to serve up for a quick snack or a side with lunch. I think these sweet potatoes would even be great as a thanksgiving side instead of the ewwy gooey marshmallow kind. This would free up oven space for that nice free range turkey and yummy homemade butter rolls!

Chipotle peppers are spicy (they are smoked jalapeƱos), you can adjust it to your taste. One pepper is just enough to notice, but not at all overpowering. I get the peppers in a can and puree the whole thing, then freeze it in tablespoon portions since I never use a whole can at once and never use them whole, it is a convenient way to use them. 1 tablespoon is equal to about 1 pepper.

3 pounds sweet potatoes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, pureed
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup dried cranberries
½ cup pecans, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection works best). Peel and cut potatoes into 1” pieces. Toss to coat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil and arrange in a single layer on two baking sheets. Roast for 35 minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons oil, pepper puree, vinegar, salt and pepper to make a dressing. Combine cranberries, pecans, chives and cooked sweet potatoes in a medium bowl, drizzle with dressing, cover and refrigerate until chilled.

How do you like your sweet potatoes?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Soaked Blender Pancakes

I have this book; Nourishing Traditions. I read through it every now and again because I find the information so valid, it just makes good sense. But the sense is so overwhelming. I am so far from where I want to be...still. I felt I was ready to take the next step, so I dusted off that yellow cookbook and found what I was looking for.


I am ready for the benefits of soaking grains and beans. The reason being the natural phytic acid that is present to prevent them from sprouting prematurely. This acid is an anti-nutrient, meaning it blocks the absorption of nutrients on your body. Soaking grain and beans in a slightly acidic solution (vinegar, lemon juice, cultured products) for 12 to 24 hours breaks down the phytic acid for ease of nutrient absorption and digestibility.


So I have had some messes as I experiment with my own recipes and try to change them to incorporate this soaking method. But alas, success...more than success. These pancakes are hands down the best I have ever had! It takes planing ahead and I am slowly getting the hang of it. It takes an extra step in the already elaborate meals I plan. It definatly takes the love of health and good food to drive me in my quest for knowledge.


What is your latest quest you have set out to master in the name of health?


1 cup kamut

½ cup barley

¼ cup amaranth

1 ½ cup kefir

1 cup milk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon Rumford's baking powder


Sometime the day before, place grain and kefir in blender, mix on low until combined and cover. In the morning add milk, eggs, oil, syrup, salt and vanilla. Blend for 3 minutes until very smooth. Add baking soda and powder and pulse until combined. At this point the batter will start to grow so you may need to transfer it to a large bowl. Pour/ladle onto a preheated 350 degree skillet and cook on each side for 1 minute. For extra crispy edges, brush pan with butter or coconut oil.


This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.

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