Thursday, July 28, 2011

small batch cookie

Every now and then the urge for a cookie hits me.  I don't buy them because most of them are loaded with ingredients that I don't need or want in my pantry.  But baking a batch of cookies is overwhelming because most of them make at least two dozen and having that many cookies in the house is too much of a temptation.

At the library I saw the book Small Batch Baking.  It looked really interesting so I checked it out and realized that this is a great way to satisfy that sugar urge without overdoing it.  Most of the recipes make just enough for dessert.  No more dozens of cookies or huge cakes waiting in ambush in the kitchen.  This is a wonderful option when that sugar urge hits without having to have all those leftovers.

The other day I was in the mood for a cookie; I changed a few of the ingredients to make a vegan, gluten-free small batch of chocolate chip cookies based on the recipe from Small Batch Baking.  I reduced the sugar because I didn't want anything too sweet, just a hint of sugar to satisfy that craving.

The recipe needs a little refinement as the cookies ran more than I liked so they were flatter/thinner than I wanted.  I prefer a chocolate chip cookie that is a little thicker and gooier and these were more crispy.  Feel free to try it and see what you think.

Small Batch VGF Chocolate Chippers

2 T. plus 2 t. coconut oil (this is probably what made them spread so much)
3 T. evaporated cane juice crystals
2 T. ground flax seed
2 T. water
1/4 t. vanilla
1/4 C. plus 2 T. GF flour
1/4 t. baking soda
generous pinch sea salt
1/4 C. dark chocolate chips

preheat oven to 375 F
cream coconut oil and sucanat together
mix flax seed, water and vanilla together
add to coconut oil and sucanat
mix together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture
add chocolate chips and blend well

drop by tablespoonful onto greased cookie sheet
makes 6 cookies

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

psoriasis can be cured

Psoriasis | photo: James Heilman, MD
Recently it was announced on the interwebs that a certain celebrity had been diagnosed with psoriasis.  The reason/cause for her condition was attributed to stress.  This is certainly a strong possibility as psoriasis can be an autoimmune response and as those of us with autoimmune disorders know, stress is a huge trigger.

I was saddened to hear that this young person didn't feel that she could slow down her lifestyle.  Nor was there any mention of the possibility of the influence of diet.

As long-time readers know, I am a huge fan of food as a basis for health.  While I certainly do not believe that food is the only cure, I do know from years of working with lots of different people that food can be a large part of the answer.  When we eat the way our bio-individual body needs us to we can help the ourselves to be healthier.  I'm a believer in Integrative Medicine -- there is room for both in the equation, in fact it would be silly to discount either side in a food versus medicine tug-of-war.  Learning about diet and the influence of food and nutrition on the body can be an empowering experience for many people.

This case especially caught my attention due to someone I have been working with who has experienced  a successful dietary transition.  I'd like to share her testimonial here:

"In 1995 following a life threatening flare-up of ulcerative colitis, my large intestine was surgically removed. The last two feet of the small intestine was used to create a new internal abdominal “J-Pouch.” Many pouch recipients experience complete restoration of health following this procedure. Some do not, and I fell into this category. Instead of returning to a healthy, active lifestyle, I became plagued with chronic J-Pouch infections requiring heavy steroid and antibiotic use that lasted several years. With the help of a strong probiotic, the flare-ups became less chronic and in time my health improved.

Unfortunately I developed a new health concern... scalp psoriasis that gradually spread to my elbows and trunk. I experienced some other nagging symptoms -- itching, mild fatigue, and brain fog to name a few. The chronic scalp psoriasis required daily use of a strong topical prescription steroid that barely controlled the problem. I asked my dermatologist if there were recommended dietary changes that might improve the psoriasis, and the response was there was no known diet that proved effective in clearing psoriasis.

This is where Mira comes in. Following a full scope assessment and using her health and nutrition expertise, Mira shared her results -- I was suffering with a systemic Candida yeast overgrowth most likely caused by prolonged steroid and antibiotic use. Mira presented the course of treatment, including a diet that would discontinue feeding the candida. Following a strict two weeks of dietary changes, I was amazed at the results. I skeptically stopped using the topical steroids, sure the psoriasis would return with a vengeance. It did not, and the results were amazing! "  D.R. 2011

This wonderful woman has experienced so much improvement with her psoriasis and we continue to work together to refine her health and address her overall nutrition.

I hope that the young celebrity challenged with psoriasis manages to find a connection to someone with a background in holistic nutrition to help her learn to better understand the needs of her body.  I also hope that she finds the time to slow down and be easier on herself.  We only have one body and our health is so important.  We need to remember to be kind to ourselves.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

purslane soup

Purslane | photo:  Aomorikuma
Merriweather has been posting delicious pictures and food ideas for many of his foraged delights. The other day he posted a picture of purslane (Portulaca oleracea).

When we lived in CT my husband and I had the stuff running wild all throughout our vegetable garden. It was, quite frankly, a weed. I spent many hours yanking the stuff out cursing at how readily it regrew not realizing that just the act of weeding caused it to reseed and become more vigorous.

All that changed the day I was at a local farmers market and saw one of the farmers there selling the stuff. His was golden purslane which is slightly different than the everyday variety we had in our garden, but it was purslane nonetheless. I began to look at my weedy friends with a rather different eye.

A succlent plant with an unusual sour-yet-sweet flavor I quickly discovered that although you can eat it raw I didn't like it that way. I also don't like okra and the texture was too similar for me. Steamed was okay but the best was when The Washington Post published this recipe for a purslane and spring pea soup. Let me tell you four cups of purslane is a fair amount. And this recipe is so delicious we often doubled it thereby neatly using up large quantities of purslane. High in both vitamin A and C as well as magnesium, purslane can be a good vegetable to add to your nutrition plan...if you can find it.

Purslane Soup

2 tablespoons organic butter
2 leeks (white and light-green parts only), washed and chopped
4 cups purslane, rinsed and dried
2 cups fresh peas
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

In a large pot melt the butter.
Add leeks and saute until limp and golden.
Add purslane, peas, potatoes, and broth.
Bring to just under a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend using an immersion blender.
Salt and pepper to taste.

May be served hot or cold with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream on top.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

stay well-hydrated for summer

Water | photo:  Suat Eman
With summer just around the corner and temperatures rising it's important to stay well-hydrated during the summer months. Most of us don't drink enough water in the first place, add in the higher temperatures and more outdoor activity, it all adds up to sweating more, leading to more fluid loss and potential dehydration. Dehydration can cause a large number of physical problems from headaches and migraines, to constipation to deep fatigue or loss of energy.
Before you reach for that cheap 54-oz Big Gulp think about what your body needs in terms of hydration. It certainly doesn't need all that sugar. An 8-oz can of Sprite claims that it has 26 g of sugar, multiplied by 6.75 to equal a 54-oz drink, that comes to 175.5 g of sugar, not to mention all those chemicals. If you're drinking sugar-free, you are taking in even more chemicals; caffeinated sodas would deliver a jolting 155 mg of caffeine.
Choose refreshing drink choices that are actually good for you. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Water – always good, water is exactly what your body needs. For a refreshing change to plain water add a slice of citrus to your water. For a cool and cleansing taste try slices of peeled cucumber or even a sprig of mint.
  • Iced tea – although tea does have caffeine if you make your iced teas with green tea you'll be getting less caffeine over all. Or you can use herbal teas which have no caffeine and are very refreshing and enjoyable.
  • Spritzers – adding your favorite juice to cool seltzer water with some ice and perhaps a slice of fresh fruit can be a great way to stay hydrated. The usual proportions are 50% juice 50% seltzer. Just be sure to choose juices that are 100% juice, no additives, no preservatives, no colors.  If you are using concentrated juice you will need to adjust the proportions to your preference.
  • Agua fresca – these cool and tasty drinks, originally from Mexico, are made by taking blended fresh fruit, usually melons, and combining them with water, sugar, and a splash of lime juice. Because there is sugar, with both the fresh fruit and the added sugar, these should be consumed in moderation.  There is a delicious recipe posted below.
  • Lemonade or limeade – made with citrus juice, water and sugar this can be very satisfying and cooling. If you make it yourself you control how much sugar is in it.  There are a wide number of tasty recipes available online.

Strawberry Watermelon Agua Fresca | photo Marie the Bee
Agua Fresca
  • 3 cups of melon (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, etc), seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice crystals
  • juice of 1-2 limes

  • Blend melon to a pulp in the blender
  • Strain pulp to remove fibers
  • In a pitcher mix together water and sugar until sugar crystals dissolve
  • Add melon juice
  • Add lime juice to taste
  • Serve over ice

It is important to remember that alcohol is a diuretic; this means you loose more body fluids when you drink it. So even though after spending the day in the hot summer sun that beer, wine cooler, or mixed drink seems cool and refreshing, it won't help you stay healthy, hydrated and refreshed.
*this article has been modified from it's original content originally published online at my Houston Holistic Health Examiner column.