Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Super Easy and Delicious Glutenfree Popovers!

This recipe is based on another from King Arthur Flour. Unfortunately I do not eat corn, potato or wheat so I couldn't use their flour mix and needed to come up with my own recipe.

1 cup total flour:
6 tablespoons of brown rice flour
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 tablespoon sorgum flour
1-2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1/4 teaspoon guar (or xanthum) gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk room temperature
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted may be easier for your blender but not very hot

Mix the dry ingredients together. I would do the flour in a measuring cup first with heaping tablespoons. Make sure you have at least a cup of flour when smoothed on the top. You may need to add some more flour of each kind esp arrowroot or tapioca. Blend all the ingredients in a blender after so it is smooth and fluffy. Put a small slice of butter into each muffin pan. Place that in the oven as it is heating up to 400 F. When the butter is melted and the pan is warm, pour the batter into each of the pans. Fill no higher than two thirds of the way, better yet a little lower. The popovers would grow huge and round in the oven but might fall if you take them out and the tops are too heavy from too much batter.

Bake the popovers for 25 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Let sit at least five to seven minutes before popping them out. Best right away but they last a few days in the fridge.

These become fluffy moist flakey delicious popovers. Prep is probably about 10-15 minutes aside from keeping an eye on the oven for a total of about 30-45 mins before eating. You can save some batter and make more day two. This recipe makes 9-12 popovers depending on how much batter you put in each tin. So delicious. I wanted to share the mix I figured out, but if I did anything I'd figure out more exact portions of all the flour, perhaps even up to 1 1/2 cups total. (Haven't tested it yet though)


Monday, 12 December 2011

5 Minute Gourmet Salmon Salad on a budget

This recipe can make 3 salads, and the ingredients keeps for several days. I recommend putting it all together just before serving, but chopping the veggies all at once to make the later salads a supersnap!

1 can Trader Joe's canned wild salmon (can't quite remember, but I think it was $2-3)
1 bottle Brianna's Champagne Caper Dressing, or your preference ($4)
1 bag of spring greens or spinach($2-4)
1 green pepper ($1-2)
1 onion (<$1)
1 table spoon olive oil (negligible)
any other special salad items you would like to add

Cut onion and pepper for salad. Mix with the salad greens on each plate, or a single plateful of greens if this is for one meal. Open the can of salmon.

Warm a pan on high and add the olive oil. Pack everything you are not using away and put it in the fridge. When a drop of water sizzles on the oil, then its hot enough to add the salmon you are going to add today. (In case this is for one, about a third of the can) This is cooked salmon so it can keep for a few days---you will want another one of these salads, don't worry! Flip the salmon with a spatula as you warm it for once minute, and don't stray from the pan because you only need it to warm up.

Move the salmon to the salad greens and top with Champagne Caper dressing, which is very much worth splurging 3.99 on, believe me. Because this salad is amazing.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

1-2-3 Kefir

To demonstrate how easy it is to make your own kefir and thus have a probiotic drink handy to make smoothies with or eat as a snack, I have documented my own efforts! Since this first batch with almond milk, I have tried coconut milk (a little strange tasting), and am now on cows milk. I think incorporating this into my diet has made it easier for me to digest other milk products. So I'm pretty sure this stuff is great news for others needing probiotics or help digesting. After it has fermented, cows milk will have less lactose and other nondairy milk products will have less sugar in them.

Step One: Gather Ingredients
Order a kefir starter on the internet. I bought six packets for about $25 not including shipping from Body Ecology. They say the culture from each packet can be reused up to 6 times, so after two weeks of rapid kefir making I'll use the next. This is available from other venders and perhaps health food stores, although I have not thought to look. Follow directions on your starter over mine, this is just an example. You can also get grains that will not need to be purchased again, they will be self replicating. (I prefer this for now to assure high levels of the probiotics I want.)

Buy a quart of milk or nonmilk. To be honest I thought coconut milk was a bit weird because it is so fatty (I tried using canned in a pinch), so that wouldn't be my choice. Perhaps try whatever kind of "milk" agrees with you. Another option I have heard of is coconut water. In my example I used unsweetened almond milk from Trader Joes. $2-4

Step Two: Add the Culture

In a pot I added my milklike substance and turned on the stove. Once it reached skin temperature, I ripped open my packet and poured it all in.

Step Three: Stir
Afterwards maybe give it a minute while you dig around for a container for the next step.

Step Four: Pour and Cover

Pour it in a container. All I had at the moment was an old yogurt container. You may need a funnel if you are using a jar. Leave a little room for air to get in for the chemical reactions to occur, ie. don't seal it up all the way.

Step Five: Snuggle and Leave it

With cloth napkins I wrapped my kefir up real cute. Ideally kefir should stand outside of the fridge at about 75 degrees. I have also stuck it in a crockpot on low before to try and get it to culture faster, but only for a few hours because it shouldn't get too hot either. You should find out the particulars when you get your culture.

Step Six: Check it

After 12 hours give it a poke with a spoon, trying not to agitate the rest of it too much. There should be a level of whey or thicker cream at the top, depending on various factors especially what "milk" you've used. Is it thick enough for you? Is it a little tart? No? Leave it for another 6-12 hours and try it again. Cows milk, I've found, needs a full day. If you leave it out loner, it will separate into whey and cheese that you can press the moisture out of and use in salads. Haven't tried that yet, but it's on the list!

Step Seven: Eat

Mmm delicious kefir with raspberries and a touch of Stevia. Add it to your morning smoothie with protein or green powder and berries or fruit. Add Stevia, honey, or your desired sweetener if you like. It is supposed to be a bit sour. Personally sometimes I like to drink it that way especially if I've been having Halloween candy or something like that, but it is delicious like vanilla yogurt with two drops of Stevia as well. I also like to add cinnamon to help me regulate my blood sugar to stave off a sugar crash after aforementioned candy. As I will describe in the future, you can use it as a milk replacement in many recipes.

Step Eight: Repeat

To make a quart this time add 3/4 of a cup of the old batch to the new one after you warm it up or about a third of a cup for a quart. The cycle keeps on going! Noe: My brand of kefir promises a total of 7 batches per packet, with 6 packets in a box. Some kefir grains will produce infinite kefir.

In practice making kefir takes me abut 7 minutes including making a mess pouring my kefir into the small mouthed glass jar I like with a funnel. I save a couple bucks off the supermarket price and gain valuable health benefits. Win- extra win!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Kefir Madness

Kefir--a liquid yogurt drink made from fermented cow milk, coconut milk, coconut water, or whatever you want if you choose to make it at home. It's different than yogurt because it has even more beneficial bacteria and yeasts growing inside of it. In milk these little critters ferment the sugars contained in lactose with the same enzymes that would work on milk in our stomach, making it easier for us to digest. I have read that even people who are lactose intolerance may be able to drink kefir easily. You can use kefir to make cheese, cream cheese, cheese cake, ice cream, smoothies and lot of other things in place of milk for a healthy dose of vitamins, enzymes, and probiotics.

Awesome right? Kefir originated in the Northern Caucacus Moutains. Kefir grains, which look like little cauliflowers, start off each kefir batch and can carry on to make another. These were highly protected and other cultures were not able to access these grains until the end of the 19th century, although the first grains were thought to have been created 5000 years ago.

You can buy kefir at Whole Foods but for the most powerful benefit it is best to make your own. I'm anxiously awaiting my own starters which I got from Body Ecology, but many other brands exist.

Kefir benefits us by balancing the flora and fauna in our intestines, including reestablishing probiotics if there has been antibiotic use or a yeast infection. It can help strengthen the walls of your gut and sooth inflammation. These both will result in an immune system boost and help prevent infection. It is more easily digested than other foods because the job is already partway done. It contains vitamin B-12, K, and biotin as well as the amino acid tryptophan that promotes relaxation and sleep--which would help with sleeping problems or stressful living. It has the minerals calcium and magnesium allowing you to support healthy bones even if you can't drink regular milk.

There are some rumblings that it may help with breast cancer, but hard evidence is still needed.

Health Guidance-- Kefir Health Benefits

Why We Need Probiotics and the Benefits of Kefir
The Health Benefits of Kefir by Steve Jones on Helium

Kefir Manual

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Did you know?

Did you know there are two different kinds of reactions we can have to food when it affects us negatively? Lately I have been reading up about food intolerance and allergies, as well as trying to test my own response to different foods to determine if I have any. First thing I learned is allergies aren’t what I thought they were!

Food allergy and food intolerance are very different. Food allergies occur when our immune system reacts adversely to even a small bit of a certain kind of food. Basically it’s an overreaction, but it can be very serious, even fatal. We’ve all heard the horror stories of those who are so allergic to peanuts that they may die from exposure, even a very small amount.

Food intolerance is much more common. Was it Something You Ate? Food Intolerance: What Causes it and How to Avoid it by John Emsley and Peter Fell describe intolerance as caused “by the body’s inability to detoxify certain components in food.” The immune system is not involved. This book focuses on non-nutrients such as additives, and components of food that are naturally occurring. For example, MSG is a concentrated sodium salt version of a chemical that is found in some foods and is also produced by our own bodies. It is only when the amount in our system reaches certain threshold levels that our body reacts negatively.

It isn’t the focus of the book above, but food intolerance can actually be of nutrients as well that we are unable to digest. The level to which we have a reaction will relate to the amount of that food that we eat. Examples of this are eggs, milk, corn, wheat, seafood, peanuts, and the list goes on. All one can do is learn what the problem foods are and avoid them. But the consequences of eating a little of one of these is far less serious than allergy!

Was it Something You Ate? Food Intolerance: What Causes it and How to Avoid it by John Emsley and Peter Fell is available in the Anne Arundel County Public Library System and on Amazon.