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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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Entries in Tips & Tricks (30)

Monday
Jan032011

a crazy quilt made of flour and stuffed in a jar

 IMG_0540

A while back I started putting the remaining little bits of all my flours into a jar. Leftover freshly ground oat flour or buckwheat flour, the tablespoon or two of flour at the bottom of the bag, whatever I found in my pantry when I moved - I just mixed it all together. Then I added some xanthan gum and a bit of baking powder to make it like those multi-purpose flour blends you buy in packages.   It's like a crazy quilt made of flour and stuffed in a jar, showcasing pretty much every easily-accessible flour and starch on the market.

I believe my mysterious flour mixture contains bits of all of the following...

  • freshly ground buckwheat flour
  • regular dark buckwheat flour
  • amaranth flour
  • quinoa flour
  • white rice flour
  • brown rice flour
  • freshly ground brown rice flour
  • freshly ground sweet rice flour
  • chickpea flour
  • coconut flour
  • sorghum flour
  • millet flour 
  • teff flour
  • freshly ground oat flour
  • tapioca starch
  • arrowroot starch
  • a bit of xanthan gum

Talk about mulit-grain, right?  Ridiculous.

I have absolutely no idea what the proportion is on any of it. But I used it to make a loaf of bread a couple weeks ago, and it behaved beautifully! I made a pumpkinseed oatmeal bread with this mix as the main flour, and it was lovely, light, and had a wonderful crumb. See?  So good!

Oatmeal Pumpkinseed BreadOatmeal PumpkinSeed Bread...you can't go wrong!

But sadly, I have no way of recreating this flour mix, other than relying on the randomness of pantry cleaning, and I have no way of sharing any kind of recipe with you.  Tragic!  I still have half the jar left, and am excited to try using it for something like cookies or muffins. 

Have any of you made similarly crazy quilt flour mixes? How have they worked for you?

 

Monday
Dec132010

Tips for Cooking when You're Chronically Ill

Big pots of whole grains are an easy-to-make staple for any healing kitchen.

Any of us with food allergies and intolerances already have a lot of work to do in the kitchen. But when you are also battling with any type of chronic illness, the challenge becomes even more intense. Combining a limited diet with feeling sick all the time makes it hard to get the motivation and energy to cook. I mean really, when you don’t feel well the last thing you want to do is cook, right?  

I have been fortunate that my Lyme symptoms have never made me totally unable to cook for myself. I have always been able to grocery shop and prepare my own meals.  And while I've always been able to do it, a few years ago when I was very sick it was completely exhausting. I was so brain foggy and fatigued that preparing a meal took forever, and left me feeling trained. I lived alone and was working a full time job, and it was a serious struggle.

During those times, I figured out some tips and tricks that helped me along the way - things that I still do today even though I'm feeling better. The trick is learning how to make the most of your time in the kitchen and get the most out of your meals.  Making big batches, eating whole foods, and getting help from friends are just a few ideas. Here are some of my favorite things I learned, and I hope they help you too.

Tips for Cooking when You're Chronically Ill 

Make big batches and freeze the leftovers. When you’re having a good day or when you have help from a friend, make big batches.  It is more work on the front end, but ultimately, it leaves you with less work.  You can eat off your big batch all week or freeze the leftovers for later.  Basics like cooked rice, quinoa, millet, or any kind of cooked beans can last for 5-7 days in the fridge if tightly sealed, and they can freeze very well for months.  Prepared foods like soups, lasagna (with brown rice lasagna noodles!), casseroles,  burgers and meatballs, and homemade breads and muffins freeze amazingly well. I use a FoodSaver to vacuum package all my foods for the freezer.  Then when I am super busy or having a bad day and can’t deal with being in the kitchen, I can just reach in the freezer and get something wholesome!

Get friendly with quick to prepare whole foods.

  • Split mung beans and lentils cook quick very quickly and don’t require pre-soaking.
  • Whole grains like quinoa, millet, and buckwheat cook in under 20 minutes. Make big pots of a couple different grains at the start of the week and eat off them all week in salads, soups, or just plain.
  • Winter squash are nutritious and so easy to bake, and you can eat off them for days. 
  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes can be baked whole in the oven or microwave, and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Most vegetables can be eaten raw if you don’t want to deal with cooking them.  Make a meal of bean dip, raw vegetables, and miso soup.

Steam vegetables. Steamed vegetables take only minutes to prepare, are easy to digest, and can be eaten any time of day with any kind of other foods. You can steam vegetables on the stovetop with a steaming basket in a pot, or you can purchase electric vegetable steamer appliances if you don’t trust yourself (and your Lyme brain) with open flame.  My rice cooker even has a vegetable steaming tray that I sometimes use if I don’t feel like using the stovetop.

Make salads and get comfortable with eating raw.  The easiest food in the book.  Bag of pre-washed baby greens, some kind of protein (beans, meat, fish, nuts), and a handful of other vegetables, or a scoop of quinoa or millet.  Add some salad dressing or a little oil and vinegar, lemon juice, or  sprinkle of vitamin C crystals, and you’re done!  Under 5 minutes.  If your body tolerates raw vegetables well, learn to love eating raw veggies with your meals – less prep work, and good for you too!

Eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods. Don't skimp on the calories and fat. Make sure you eat enough during the day, eating eveyr few hours to keep your blood sugar stable and your metabolism going. Assuming that your body can digest fats well,  you should eat lots of healthy fats throughout the day.  Not only will it help the your brains nerve coatings, it will help your body tissues, and give you a sense of satisfaction.  Cook with coconut oil or ghee, and add olive oil, flax oil, pumpkin seed oil, and help oil to salads or over baked sweet potatoes.  Eat plenty of avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut milk, and high quality olives.  If you can, make bone broth, which is a good source of natural fat and nourishing gelatins. While you are healing, it is imperative that you keep your body well nourished, and eating quality fat can really help.

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Monday
Dec062010

New RSS Feed and Homemade Natural Mouthwash

Updated on Sunday, December 26, 2010 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

First, let's get to business. I updated my RSS feed! Please update your readers with this new feed URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/affairsofliving/RYpC  If you aren't into using feed readers, you can also receive notifications of new posts by e-mail; just enter your email address in the form in the right nav bar on my blog. 

What's new about this feed? Simplicity! Now, all the feeds from from each section of my site - Recipes & Lifestyle, Healing Journal, and Garden Journal - have been merged into a single feed. Finally!  It took a little head scratching and some quality time on YahooPipes and Feedburner, but I figured it out!

Now, on to something more exciting: dental hygiene. 

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Wednesday
Nov172010

Beyond Bananas: High Potassium Foods

Need potassium? How about some beet greens?

I recently had a conversation with my brother about an unfortunate leg cramping incident he experienced while completing the physical agility test for the fire fighter position he is applying for. One factor he blamed was a lack of potassium, since he forgot his banana at home that morning.  Bummer! BANANA FAIL. 

I understood the dilemma caused by a missing banana. In fact, I've been having wild banana cravings (highly unusual for me), which I attribute to my body telling me I have a potassium deficiency from all these antibiotics I've been taking. Since I'm just a wee bit allergic to bananas and am also sensitive to sugar, I can't eat a whole load of them. So, I've been researching other high potassium foods, and have been alarmed to discover that there are loads of foods that pack a mean potassium punch!  I've been hitting the potassium pretty hard the last few weeks, and feel less banana-cravy now.

After his hearing his tale and falling back on my experience,I replied with the following: "Dude, there are lots of foods higher in potassium than bananas."  Then I insisted on sending him a potassium-packed care package, which will be going in the mail tomorrow. 

Know-it-all big sisters like me must be such a pain in the a**. 

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Thursday
Oct142010

How to Make Sauerkraut - or - Four Women Have a Cabbage-Laden SausageFest

Updated on Saturday, January 15, 2011 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

krautparty-5151

My new friend and fellow blogger Amy is wise in the ways of fermented cabbage. Her Croatian-bred family has a long history of kraut making, and she is the proud owner of her grandmother's kraut board.  A few weeks ago, she led a great demo at the Minneapolis Farmers Market about how to make sauerkraut.  I was awestruck by her sense of humor, her knowledge of kraut, and that amazing kraut board! After the demo, I approached her about getting together for a kraut-making party.  She gave me a quart of her homemade kraut, one thing led to another, and soon we had a date. We invited a couple local food loving friends, and decided we'd eat sausages, make kraut, and have fun.  Female sausage-fest, here we come!

Finally, this past Sunday, the big day came.  It was an unusually warm October day, with temperatures soaring into the upper 70s while golden leaves fell from the trees. We met at Amy's house at 8:45 am, then hopped in her car and drove to the Minneapolis Farmers Market in search of the perfect cabbages.  After investigating all the cabbages at the market, we found the goldmine: 50 pound bags of cabbages for only $12.  The cabbages were wet under the outer leaves, and were still moist ('bleeding') on the stem where they were cut. Perfect! We bought a bag. I hopped up and down with delight at the thought of all those cabbages, giggling like a little schoolgirl, while Amy hoisted the entire 50 pound bag of cabbages onto her shoulder.  She hauled that whole bag of cabbage back to the car on her shoulder through crowded farmers market aisles and busy sidewalks; it was like she was carrying a battering ram. I was impressed. Amy is hardcore.

With all that cabbage weighing down the back of her car, we made a quick stop back at my apartment to get a big plastic tub (more on that later), then went back to her house. Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to set up our cabbage shredding operation on her back patio.  While we got our ingredients and equipment together, we made sure the cabbage was set up comfortably in a lounge chair.

Relaxed cabbages and relaxed people make much better kraut. Seriously.

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