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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Monday
Oct222012

life updates from ribbons to resignation, registration to fermentation

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Hello friends! My life has been so full as of late, and I just haven't been maintaining this site, or been online much in general. I've been thriving through being present with the people and space physically around me, and am exploring how I want to balance my online life as a part of that. That said, the last few months have brought exciting changes that I want to share with you. 

Number 1: my state fair results. 

As you may recall from this post, I entered some gluten-free baked goods in the Minnesota State Fair! I decided to enter my Really Good Banana Bread in a few different contests, and my Wholegrain Crackerbread and an in-progress recipe for fudgy brownies in the gluten-free contest.

For a week I was a baking moster, making loaf after loaf and pan after pan to ensure everything was consistent and make any necessary tweaks. My main squeeze A enjoyed that week, and ate their weight in baked goods.

The night before judging day, I baked and bagged my treats as required for the Minnesota State Fair entry guidelines...

baked goods

And the next morning I stood in line with my treats, patiently waiting to submit them for judging...

me with baked goods

And drumroll...........

I am a blue ribbon baker!

I was pleased to discover that my Banana Bread scored a third place ribbon and my Wholegrain Crackerbread scored a first place ribbon, both in the gluten-free contest! Out of the 113 entrees, I was honored to score two ribbons. Judging is very competitive and am absolutely thrilled. In addition to the glory of being able to call myself a State Fair Blue Ribbon Baker, which is a really big deal here in Minnesota, I also got a whopping $9 prize money. 

my blue ribbon gluten-free wholegrain crackers are on the left my third place banana bread is on the top right

Number 2: I quit my fancy job 

I was always very private about what I did for work. Have you noticed I've never alluded to what I spent my days doing? Well, I'm gonna come clean right now....another drumroll...

Since September of 2004, I had worked in Target Corporation's Marketing Department at their commercial photo studio. That photo studio shoots product and model images for Target.com and a number of other Target marketing channels, from those famous Target Gift Cards to publicity pieces to coupons. Target is based right here in beautiful Minneapolis. I started there shortly after graduating from college, and over the years worked my way up through the photo studio ranks. The most recent job I had was working as a project producer, where I booked photographers, stylists, and models, scheduled photo shoots, developed relationships with internal and external clients, and did a whole bunch of other stuff that involves a Targetized version of corporate speak that I'm just not going to go into. 

Working in an internationally recognized marketing department in a high-productivity commercial photo studio environment was an incredible learning opportunity that helped me develop some pretty killer skills. Photography is fun and working in advertising can be a really sexy thing. But despite all the great learning opportunities and amazing coworkers (and the sweet paycheck, solid healthcare, great 401k and pension, and Target discount), the corporate environment just wasn't the right fit for my soul or my wardrobe. I had been trying to leave my job to become a full-time student of Oriental Medicine since early 2008, but struggles with my health kept me from being able to leave the stability of my full-time job. Finally, the forces of my life aligned made this possible, and I very quickly jumped headlong into the sea of change. Quick is the active word there - I sent in my completed school application on a Monday, I was accepted to the program on Tuesday morning and gave my one-day-short-of-two-weeks'-notice later that afternoon so I could start orientation exactly two weeks later.

My last day as a Target Headquarters "team member" was August 31, and I have done nothing but smile since - except for when I go through the checkout lane at Target and no longer have a snazzy discount card. 

 

Number 3: I am a student!

And thus, I am now a full-time student of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, MN. This three-year program will result in a Masters of Oriental Medicine, and after I pass a bunch of board exams sometime in 2015, I will be able to practice a wide range of healing modalities including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tui na, moxibustion, and Chinese dietary therapy, among other things. I am hoping to complete a Clinical Nutrition Certification soon after completing the Oriental Medicine program so I can have a wider scope of practice in regards to advising my future clients on nutrition as part of their personalized treatment protocols. I am unspeakably grateful and excited, and am loving being a student. I now spend my days in class and my evenings studying and piecing together part-time work. 

 

Number 4: I went blonde

Because why not.  I'll probably be rocking the blonde for awhile, it's fun!

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Number 5: I've been fermenting, canning, cooking, baking, and arting

The statement above pretty much sums it up. I've been doing lots of those things, although you'd never know it by the way I've let this blog become untended over the last year. But it's true, I swear! Just ask my sweetie - I endlessly utilize them as my personal food critic for the things I make and the stuff we make together. We've landed on some pretty fierce pancakes together, as well as a number of other delicious sweet and savory dishes. I canned pints and pints and pints of dilly beans, pickled beets and other goodies. And that part-time work I mentioned above is centered mostly around cooking, which is really fun. 

I don't think I mentioned it anywhere on the blog, but I attended a Fermentation Intensive with Sandor Katz himself down in Woodbury, Tennessee during mid-April. It was incredible! For four days we basked in the glory of the rural countryside learning about lacto-fermentation through hands-on lessons and eating the most beautiful, nourishing meals together. Sandor is a glorious human being, and the trip was completely inspiring. I keep meaning to share some of the amazing things I learned  and the photos! Better late than never is how I figure it, so I'll pull this together. 

Sandor Katz and me at the Fermentation Intensive in Woodbury, TN back in April

On a related note, I've been combining my love for food with my love for visual and performance art, and have been contributing to edible art installation/performance projects here in Minneapolis. I love utilizing my passion for food and art at the same time!

 

Number 6: Healing!

I've made huge leaps and bounds after nearly three years of treatment for chronic Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Bartonella, and my doctor feels I am dancing with remission! After taking cocktails of antibiotics for a solid 2 1/2 years, I swtiched to an herbal protocol in August and it seems to be doing the trick. I take a combination of herbal tinctures along with capsules of Super Artemisinin (I like the one from Allergy Research Group the best) and Serra Peptase. The tincture combination I am on is very intense, but for me really does the trick. I currently take Samento and Enula from Nutramedix, A-Babs, A-Bart, and AL-Complex from Byron White Remedies, and teasel root tincture. Teasel is available through a variety of independent distributors, including Lady Barbara's Garden online. I get mine from my naturopath, who gets it from a farm in Wisconsin.  

Please keep in mind that the listing above is not a suggestion of what you, my dear reader, should take to treat your Lyme and co-infections. It is merely a listing of what my current protocol looks like. You should talk to a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable in Lyme before starting on any protocol.

I can't even describe what a difference I feel in my body from where I was at 4 1/2 years ago, 2 years ago, or even earlier this year. The telling of what has led to this place is too long to describe here, and I am working on a more in-depth series of posts that outlines what I have found helpful in my multi-year recovery process from Lyme. Many readers have requested more information about this, and I'm happy to share it as soon as I can gather together my thoughts and experiences appropriately. 

 

 

So that sums it up! I'll try to pop in with recipes as often as I can. The blogging bug has been biting me for awhile and I do want to share some of these tasty treats I've been making - especially those of the cookie and pie variety. But if you comment or email me and I don't respond quickly, please do not take it personally. Blogging is taking the backseat in my life right now, and maintaining this site has been a challenge for me with my schedule. So, please be patient. I hope that the waning of 2012 is bringing you many positive things. Be well!

 

 

Friday
Aug172012

I want to be a Blue Ribbon baker...

...so, I'm entering things in the Minnesota State Fair!

(Oh, hello by the way. I'm still alive and kicking. I thought I was ready to return to blogging in the spring, but as it turned out, I wasn't. So I took more time away, and now, NOW, I'm really feeling the itch.) 

I have had a lifelong love affair with county and state fairs, a result of my 4-H Club upbringing. So when I moved to Minneapolis in 2004, I was thrilled to discover that the State Fair is a big effing deal in Minnesota. People are serious about entering the fair, attending the fair, photographing the fair, and eating at the fair, and the city of St. Paul pretty much gets taken over by fair traffic. It's really a season all of its own, in my opinion, a lovely punctuation mark between summer and autumn, a way to celebrate the bounty of the harvest season and the energy of summer before slipping in to the cooler days and slower pace of autumn. 

Rewind to last August, when my friend Amanda and I were walking through the Creative Activities building at the fair. We came upon a small glass case filled with a handful pale, saggy baked goods, looked at eachother with a sad gaze, were both kind of like, "WHAT are these sad looking things?!" Then read the labels more closely, and much to our dismay, discovered that they were the gluten-free contest entries. It was at that very moment I decided that I needed to enter the fair in 2012. Those gummy looking baked goods, white as the undriven snow, could not be the only gluten-free representation at the fair. I owed it to the gluten-free community to provide something more! Like, how is anyone EVER going to want to go gluten-free when those are the baked goods they think they will have to eat for eternity? Especially when there are cases and cases and cases of glutenous treats surrounding them. Psssh.

Okay, so fast forward to the first week of August, just a couple weeks ago. State Fair registration has begun, and of course, I'm registering on the very last day possible because I was a space cadet and didn't really realize that HEY it's August already and HEY it's time to make stuff for the fair. 

I decided to enter five baked goods and one cross-stitch pillow. See? Here's the proof, there's no turning back now.

Unfortunately, I was supposed to turn in my cross-stitch pillow this week for judging and I completely blanked. I guess my unicorn cross-stitch pillow will not have an opportunity to shine. C'est la vie! Maybe I'll just have to post it on the blog instead, and I will have to rely on my baking for my state fair fun this year. 

There are some rules and regulations to be adhered to, of course, but my recipes totally fit the bill and I've been baking away to confirm and refine a few things. I am making two kinds of banana bread, one to be used in both the gluten-free and regular quick bread contests, and another one to be used in the honey & bee culture honey quick bread contest. I will also be making sprouted buckwheat crackers and some kind of cookie from my collection, yet to be determined. Tomorrow night I'll be doing the final bake-off for Sunday morning, when I will be taking all my entries in to be judged! 

Preparing for this is taking me back to my childhood days of being a 4-H member, scrambling to get my entries ready for judging. I never had animals to show in the fair, since I was a city kid. Keep in mind, I use the term "city kid" loosely for my childhood self - I grew up in neighborhoods that danced between city and town lines, walking sidewalks that dropped off when they hit corn fields. Nonetheless, my family didn't have fair-appropriate animals, so I kept on the long familial tradition of 4-H with sewing, baking, cooking, and arts and crafts projects. My rhubarb pie was blue-ribbon winning on more than one occasion at the county fair, and more than once I had a sewing or art project make its way to the 4-H building at the Wisconsin State Fair. I was such a successful little 4-H member.

Anyway, I'm pretty darn excited, and I can't wait to stand in line with all the people who are as cuckoo about baking as I am, all of us carting around our lovingly prepared treats. After they are tasted and judged, all the baked goods get put in to big glass cases, where they sit on display for about two weeks while thousands and thousands of people walk past them and take photos. I can't wait to go look at my stale baked goods trapped in a glass case! I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out.  

Monday
Apr022012

A personal tale of overindulgence and a recipe for Totally Loaded Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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[Trigger warning: depression, thoughts of self-harm, and intimacy are brought up briefly in this post. You wouldn't expect it in a post about cookies, but there it is. Wanted to bring it up for individuals for whom these topics may be triggering.] 

During my time away from the blog, I made a lot of cookies. And by that I mean two batches or so every week for about two months. In retrospect, I believe I was possessed by a cookie demon, an apron-clad creature that breathes flour from its nose, has beaters instead of hands, and whose eyes are glazed sticky sweet with honey. My kitchen became host to mixing bowls in the sink, flour on the floor, and a tin of cookies on the counter at all times. I fed my housemates cookies. I bestowed cookies upon friends. I wooed with cookies. Yes, wooed. And of course, I consumed many of them myself. 

My baking bonanza was part of a larger pattern of self-indulgence that started last fall. I had been weaning off my drugs since last October after two years of heavy antibiotic treatment for Lyme Disease and related tickborne co-infections. My doctor had told me that I was in remission, and we should try running an experiment to see how my body behaved without treatment. I took my last pill in late November. In a somewhat reckless (yet well-deserved) move, I celebrated. Caution, moderation, and self-control are not my natural and preferred methods of approaching the world. I've had to develop them in the last few years out of health-related necessity, and I managed to drum up gumption that I didn't know I had. I was so tired of regulating myself. So I threw care to the wind. I let go. I cheered myself with wine and coffee and all number of things that I had forbade myself from partaking in the last 4 years, returning to a slightly amended version of my habits of old. Concurrently, I indulged my heart and body, spending obsessive amounts of time in a blissed out haze of crushy giddiness with a pleasure rebel of equal measure to me. I laughed more than I'd laughed in years, shaking up the dust and cobwebs from prior years of sick sorrow. I fed parts of my soul that had lay hungry for far too long. 

It was all so needed, a medicine all of its own. I knew all of that was a recipe for inevitable intense consequence, but I didn't care. I wanted to experience every moment the present so badly, so I did. 

Everything hit an unfortunately timed wall in the desolate grey of mid-February, a tsunami wave of intrinsically cyclical circumstances. Cookies, wine, and losing time in starry-eyed explorations were replaced by new antibiotic regimens, detox baths, and days lost in battling Herxes from Hell. I was in physical and emotional crisis. My behaviors had fed my soul, but had also fed all the sleeping bugs in my system and brought them back to life. I had symptoms I hadn't experienced in months and years. I felt nauseous from the drugs in my system and the lonely pit in my stomach.  My head throbbed and shooting pains transversed my flesh. Worse yet, my swinging manic depressive cycles joined forces with a wicked Bartonella brain freakout and an aching heart, forming an unholy trinity of psychological destruction. Thoughts of self-harm wracked my brain, unlike any I'd had in years. It was terrifying. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, nights were silent and solitary. I struggled to unravel the pain, grappling to discern what to attribute to the flare in my illnesses, or to side effects from the pharmaceuticals, or to the deep depression, or to the unraveling of intimacy. I was plagued by frustration for taking everything "too far", indulging "too much", feeling "too deeply". I thrived at very little other than taking my pills, crying, watching Netflix, and writing depressing poetry.

What a clutsterf***.  

hellobeautiful

And yet, the old adage remains: time is the great healer of all things. Within a few weeks, a switch had flipped. My body began to acclimate, my depression started to lift, my lonliness slowly subsided. Some light poked through the clouds and I flocked to it. And now, I'm feeling pretty good, all things considered. Matters of the body, mind, and heart have all achieved a certain level of balance and redefinition and appreciation. Times like this are for learning, growing, and self-reflection. It takes patience and faith and hard work. Sometimes it sucks. But in my experience things usually end up better after a bout like this. And thankfully, they have. 

I'm not baking many cookies right now. My tendancy to overindulge doesn't bode well with the way antibiotics effect my body, so I'm putting on the brakes the best I can. But have a storehouse of recipes from my winter baking binge to revisit. I made these little love nuggets last weekend for a potluck, to great delight of all who ate. They are loaded with all kinds of stuff, a celebration of all the ways I like to overdo. But the gluttony is tempered by whole grains and healthy fat and sensible sweeteners. It's the sort of balance I am trying to achieve. 

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Totally Loaded Oatmeal Raisin Cookies  (gluten-free, dairy-free, cane sugar-free)

yields 3 dozen 3-inch cookies

In addition to boasting whole grains, raisins, cashews, and coconut, these cookies are totally loaded with protein, fiber, and amino acids. Sweet.

A few tips on the fat. Make sure to use softened - not melted - coconut oil. If you are a butter eater, an equal weight of butter can be substituted. Also, chill the dough in the fridge for 3-4 hours before baking. Why? Chilling the dough hardens the coconut oil and shortening, so it doesn't melt as quickly while the cookies are baking. Instead of spreading out like weird pancakes and ending up lacy and thin, cookies baked from chilled dough spread gradually and end up slightly chewy in the middle and crisp on the outside. Totally worth the wait, trust me. And besides, it gives you lots of time to sneak into the fridge and eat spoonfulls of dough. Because duh, why else bake cookies?!

  • 90 grams / 0.75 cup quinoa flour or amaranth flour*
  • 60 grams / scant 0.5 cup arrowroot starch or arrowroot flour (equal weight of tapioca flour or tapioca starch can be substituted)
  • 40 grams / 0.25 cup buckwheat flour 
  • 5 grams / 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 grams / 0.75 teaspoon salt
  • 9 grams / 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 150 grams / 0.5 cup + 3.5 tablespoons softened virgin coconut oil 
  • 75 grams / 0.25 cup + 2 tablespoons palm shortening
  • 170 grams / 1 cup palm sugar (or equal weight of another granulated sugar, such as coconut sugar)
  • 80 grams / 0.25 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 grams / 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 290 grams / 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 225 grams / 1.5 cup lightly packed raisins
  • 85 grams / 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 100 grams / 0.75 cup toasted chopped cashews

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt until well combined and light. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream coconut oil and shortening until smooth and fluffy. Then add sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla and beat until smooth (some sugar granules may remain, that's okay). Add eggs and mix just until they are evenly combined. Gradually add flour and mix until evenly incorporated.

Then fold in oats, raisins, coconut, and cashews with a large sturdy spoon or spatula. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

Heat oven to 350º F and line baking sheets with parchment. Scoop chilled dough onto a baking sheet, leaving 3 inches or so between each cookie. Bake for approximately 16 minutes per batch, rotating pans half way through if baking two sheets at a time. Cookies should still be soft in the middle but browned around the edges, then remove from oven.

Let cool for 5 minutes before carefully transferring cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store cooled cookies in a well-sealed jar, container, or bag at room temperature for up to 4 days (although they won't last that long).

 

*Flour Power! If you can't find quinoa or amaranth flour for purchase, or if you want to save some ching, grind your own. Simply place whole quinoa or amaranth grains in a high powered blender like a Vitamix or a coffee grinder, and grind until you create very fine flour with an even texture. So easy and so fresh!

Friday
Mar302012

Hello. I'm back. 

me in February

Greetings friends. It's been a while. A long while. I'm still here, really. I've been taking time for myself the last few months, doing much-needed self-maintenance and self-care that had little to do with blogging.

Sure, I've still been cooking and baking up a storm. But I've been doing it without recording everything so intensely and without stressing out over the minimal amount of natural light available during Minnesota winters. Instead of maniacally attacking my laptop as my cookies cooled to write up a post, I've been sitting down with crafts or a book or housemates or friends instead.  Instead of spending weekends holed up in my kitchen, I've been doing all kinds of other things. And I gotta tell ya, it's been great.

My time away has allowed me to form interesting perspective on my place as a food blogger. Since starting my blog in 2008, the landscape of the food blogosphere has changed. It's expanded and exploded and everyone is publishing cookbooks and presenting at conventions and writing for Martha Stewart and Real Simple and doing product reviews and partnerships and doing giveaways all the time and buying amazing cameras and setting up small photo bays at home in their kitchens or wherever the light is the best and sharing everything through every social media channel out there. Blogs are looking beautiful these days, and it is truly inspiring.  And to watch the way that some of my blogging friends have just soared into the stratosphere is really awesome. Hot damn,  they deserve it. 

While I applaud the bloggers that have the energy for that kind of thing, I'm realizing that I just, well, don't. I enjoy the inexactness of spontaneous cooking - something that doesn't bode well for recipe development and cookbook writing. I get overwhelmed by all the new types of social media. I don't want to "check-in" or "pin it", my Twitter accounts were dormant for months, and I'm currently on break from Facebook. Sometimes I only want to focus on what's in front of me, you know? All I wanted to do is make recipes, take a few photos, and share them on my blog, and really, that's all I still want to do, without feeling like I need to participate in all the other stuff. I don't need to have a huge reputation or an outstanding Google rank. I just want to do my own thing and create a space I'm proud of, without pressure. And if people keep noticing and reading, that's awesome! 

In addition to being a cook, a baker, a canner, a fermenter, and a blogger, I am a musician, a crafter and artist, a writer, a gardener, a community organizer, an activist, a whole foods educator, a proud chosen auntie, a committed friend, and a lady about town. This blog is just one of the many ways I express my creativity and define my identity, and I need room for all of these things in my life if I am to remain happy and fulfilled. It's not that I can't focus - I just like to focus on lots of things all at once. 

Honestly, I didn't miss blogging at all until a few weeks ago. It was a relief to allow myself time away from this self-created virtual space, remove myself from the expectations of "oh it's been awhile, I should really post something" or "it's Valentine's Day, I should do a recipe round-up" or "these are great muffins, I should post them". I realized it was okay if I turned the "should" into a "could" and said "no" and did something else instead.

But the desire to write about food and healing is back, and I'll return to my old ways soon, with fresh energy and a new spunk in my step. 

xo

Monday
Dec122011

Can you beet my new forearm tattoo?

I've known for years  someday I would cross the visible tattoo threshold and put a design on my forearm.  More recently, I've been leaning toward a food-centered design that would support my passion for the vegetable kingdom. Well, the blessed day finally came a week and a half ago, when I got these little beauties. Beets, my friends, beets! Aren't they lovely?

My Beet Tattoo

I am a huge fan of black tattoos and greywork, so I'm not getting any color added. I love my design and delicate yet bold effect of the black ink. The skin is still peeling and the area is still a little red and inflamed, but overall it is healing beautifully and looking great. 

I acknowledge that may seem strange for someone that is dedicated to non-toxic living (namely, me) to get themselves voluntarily assaulted with a needle and ink. But despite my sensitivity to oh-so-many things in this world, tattoo ink and I seem to get along just fine. The tattoo process doesn't mess up my qi significantly and the skin heals well. So I say, bring on the ink and let's get to business.

I'm happy to now have the earth (my newly acquired root veggies) and the sky (a flock of birds on my ribcage) represented on my body. What tattoo will be next, I wonder?

Do you have any food tattoos?