Affairs of Living

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods recipes

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Tuesday
Apr052011

April SOS Kitchen Challenge Reveal

 

It's April--which means the cruelest month   love is in the air  an entire month dedicated to the celebration of my birthday  another SOS Kitchen Challenge!

This month, with so many of us thinking about spring and green shoots finally making their way toward the sky, Ricki and I have chosen an ingredient that is itself a harbinger of spring.  With its lively green hue and tender, pine cone-like tops, this veggie is often enjoyed even by those who don't otherwise consume many veggies.  Our happy ingredient this month happens to be...

ASPARAGUS!

When asparagus hits the grocery stores and markets around this part of the world, we know spring is just around the corner. And who doesn't love spring? 

Available in most places from April to May (though much earlier in California and much later in the midwest), asparagus is beloved by many as a special treat. Actually part of the Lily family, asparagus is available in three varieties: green (the type with which most people are familiar), white, which is grown underground to inhibit the chlorophyll and thereby prevent any color from developing; and purple, which is much smaller and more delicate than the standard type.  My personal favorite among these is white asparagus, mostly for nostalgic reasons. My first exposure to it was in high school, while on European tour with a youth symphony. My French host family served me pickled white asparagus, and I was in shock! I loved it, but our massive language barrier didn't really allow me to ask much about it. Then, I encountered it a year later, while studying in Salamanca, Spain.  My classmates and I ordered paella, complete with pasty white stalks of asparagus that looked like disembodied fingers sticking out between the rice and mussels. My classmates had no idea what the stuff was. Thankfully, my prior experience with the albino vegetable allowed me to set the record straight (nerd) and we all ate it. Shortly thereafter, I saw it in the grocery store in my hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and remember feeling very fancy that I could tell my dad all about it. 

Why I remember things like this but forget to pay bills and leave my cell phone all over the place is beyond my comprehension.

Perhaps part of asparagus' elite appeal is the fact that it is more perishable than many other vegetables; it stays fresh only a few days, and, in fact, begins to lose its antioxidant value more quickly than other veggies.  The best way to store asparagus to keep it fresh is to place the cut ends in a little bit of fresh water; I stand my bunch of asparagus upright in an empty (clean) large yogurt container or glass jar, with about an inch (2.5 cm) of water in the bottom.  I invert a plastic veggie bag (usually the one it came in) gently over the spears for storage.  It will keep a couple of days this way.

All three varieties of the vegetable contain compounds called saponins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It's also one of the few foods that contains inulin, known as a "pre-biotic" because it feeds the healthy bacteria (probiotics) in our intestines, thereby encouraging a healthy digestive tract, immune system, and regular elimination (other sources of inulin are chicory, yacon and both onions and garlic).

With its high fiber content, asparagus is a great aid to digestion.  It's also an excellent source of folic acid and Vitamin K (essential for healthy blood and bones) and is a  good source of other B-vitamins. The high amount of Vitamin A (just 6 spears provide 25% of the daily requirement) is great for healthy skin; and it's also a mild diuretic, which means it can help to reduce swelling or other conditions in which one retains water (such as PMS). Finally, it also helps to detox the body with antioxidants like glutathione (important for liver function). And let's not forget that it tastes delicious and often appeals to folks who don't otherwise enjoy their veggies!

Most of us think of asparagus as a savory ingredient, used in classic dishes like quiche or risotto, above--and of course it's delicious that way! But it's also great shredded, raw, in salads; creamed in soups; or grilled.  And if you can think of a tasty sweet use for this vegetable, you'll get an extra-special mention in this month's SOS Roundup! ;)

How to Participate:  To play along with this month's challenge,  simply cook up a new recipe–either sweet OR savory (or both)–using asparagus. 

Be sure to follow the general SOS guidelines for ingredients and submission requirements (please be sure to read the guidelines before submitting! We hate to remove links, but we will do so if they don't comply with the general guidelines).  You may submit your own recipe or one you found on a website or blog (even one of ours). Then link up your recipe via the linky tool at the bottom of this post, or any of the other SOS: Asparagus posts that I publish this month.  Be sure to also add a link to this page on your post, and if you wish, include the SOS logo. 

Your recipe will be displayed on both Ricki's and my blog via the Linky, and will be featured in a recipe roundup at the end of this month.  As always, we look forward to more of your innovative, delectable, enthusiastic entries this month!

SOS Kitchen Challenge: Asparagus

 

Friday
Apr012011

March SOS Kitchen Challenge Round-Up: Adzuki Beans

Here it is again, the start of another month. That means it is also the end of another SOS Kitchen Challenge. In March, Ricki and I featured none other than the delicious and nutritious adzuki bean. Our readers were inspired by both the sweet and savory possibilities, and delivered a multitude of delicious-looking recipes. From truffles to tarts, soup to salad, and even vegetarian "bacon", we had it all. And, oddly enough, Ricki and I were on the same wavelength and created very similar bean dips, completely separate of each other. Great minds do think alike.

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Here are a few highlights from the month...

Sweet

Savory

 Be sure to check out all the great recipes in the Linky below, and prepare to get your bean on.

Anxious for the next SOS Kitchen Challenge? We are too! Ricki selected a great ingredient for the April SOS Kitchen Challenge. This month's ingredient is fresh, seasonal, and perfectly suited for a wide variety of savory dishes. If you can figure out how to use it in a sweet way, you deserve a medal of honor. Any guesses? Check back soon for all the details!

Also...

Do you know that my SOS partner Ricki has completed yet another recipe e-book? Her newest recipe collection is entitled Good Morning! Breakfast without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs, or Dairy, and looks amazing. From pancakes to scrambles to breakfast bars, Ricki shares recipes perfect for anyone on an anti-Candida, low glycemic, or low sugar diet, or anyone with food allergies. I can't wait to buy my copy! And, as a bonus, she is offering it at a special price of $9.95 (regular price is $12.95) through Sunday April 3.  Click here to learn more! 

March SOS Kitchen Challenge: Adzuki Beans

Monday
Mar282011

Recycled Brownie Smoothies and Puddings: The best way to use old baked goods!

Old brownies ready for the blender. When they become too dry to enjoy, freeze them in cubes and use in smoothies and puddings!

My housemate Mary just recently turned me on to using past-prime brownies in smoothies and puddings. I know that sounds weird, but seriously, it is the best way to eat up those slightly dry baked goods! Combined with a little non-dairy milk and a slew of other ingredients, those old dry brownies transform into a rich, chocolatey, creamy smoothie or pudding. I hate throwing away food, so discovering a way to reuse baked goods in a new way is totally up my alley.

How do you do it? Simple. Just put chunks of dry, leftover brownie in your blender, with a bunch of other ingredients (hints below, keep reading). If you have a lot of leftover brownie pieces, cut them into small cubes and put them in the freezer to use later on.  These frozen chunks are like ice cubes, but better because they are full of chocolate goodness! 

As for what you combine with your brownies, the world is your chocolate-covered oyster.  How about banana and nut butter? Or maybe frozen cherries and hemp seed? Or coconut milk, maca, and cacao? Or maybe chocolate with carob powder, protein powder, and a handful of spinach (seriously)? Anything goes, the options are endless.  If you want a thick, creamy pudding, I"d recommend adding only enough liquid to blend, as well as a tablespoon or two of chia seeds.

Here are some of my favorite ingredients to mix-n-match with leftover brownies: 

  • your favorite "milk" or coconut milk
  • stevia or another natural sweetener
  • cacao nibs
  • carob or cacao powder
  • maca
  • cinnamon or other spices
  • nut/seed butter or nuts/seeds
  • maca
  • hemp or flax seeds
  • protein powder
  • plain or frozen banana
  • spinach or kale leaves (if you're wacky like me)
  • frozen cherries or raspberries
  • anything else your heart desires

Brilliant. Totally brilliant!

Wednesday
Mar232011

Lemon & Herb Chicken Liver Paté (gluten-free, grain-free, ACD)

Lemon & Herb Chicken Liver Paté

Liver tends to be a rather polarizing food - either you love it or you find the idea of eating it absolutely appalling. Back in my veg*n days, I would go on and on about how "nasty" liver is, stunned that people would even consider eating it (although I'd never tried it, of course). Once I started eating meat again, I vowed to appreciate the whole animal from snout to tail. After getting comfortable with the basic cuts, I started by buying more unsual cuts of meat and using bones and skin to make stock. Thanks to a trip to France a few years ago, I saw the glory of liver. Not long ago I had my first run-in with tripe and tendon (not bad!). And I've been eyeing up bison blood sausage, duck fat, and leaf lard at the co-op.  My journey is slow, but I'm trying, and enjoying every delicious minute.  Culinary curiosity beats out hesitancy every time. 

Hey, if that animal is dying for me, I want to do what I can to ensure that nothing is wasted. To guide me along the way, I am reading The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Thomas Keller. I read cookbooks like novels, and these books are genius. I am finding the subject matter absolutely fascinating, and love learning about where each cut of meat comes from and how the organs and other animal parts can be used.  Somehow, this book has made me excited about the prospect of making gluten-free kidney pie and finding an opportunity to butcher a chicken myself.  As Anthony Bourdain would say, bring on the "nasty bits"!  

Where did that veg*n girl go? Whoa.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar152011

Sugar-Free Pear Berry Crisp (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)

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I made this crisp to take along to a dinner with friends last weekend. In addition to sharing allergies, intolerances, restrictions, often waning energy levels, and pretty amazing cooking skills, we all share another thing: chronic illness. Lyme, Babesiosis, Bartonella, CFIDS, MCS, the list goes on. How we all manage to have so much fun discussing our symptoms, looking up lab tests and CPT codes online, and talking about our medications and supplements amazes me. It is a small group, just the right size, and the openness, honesty, and solidarity is refreshing. There's no drama, no judgement - just conversation and understanding. And despite it all, we laugh and joke and have a blast.  And don't be mistaken, we spend plenty of time talking about stuff other than Lyme. 

I feel blessed.  This group is just one slice of the community that I am proud to call my own, and I recognize how fortunate I am to have a support network.  Especially a support network that can cook!  :)

Click to read more ...