Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Date Muffins

I have been lax in my journal over the last 2 months, due to my having relocated from the cold chill of Ottawa. Now, in my new Peterborough home I finally have unpacked enough stuff that I can begin to catch up on some of this back log of journals! This one is from the beginning of August, but is a nice comfort food for the cooler airs of October.

After a dirty 4 days of camping out at an annual music festival we returned with new recipe ideas to develop, or destroy! To begin I will leave you with some muffins I made to bring camping at an annual music festival.

I adapted this recipe from Shirley Plant's book Finally Food I Can Eat (which is a terrific book if you have just been diagnosed with food allergies and sensitivities and are trying to navigate your way through the initial confusion). The recipes are nearly fail proof and lend themselves easily to changing and substituting. The original recipe was called "Banana Muffins".

I am in muffin love, these things turned out awesome for me and I hope you get similar results. I will warn you, they have a slightly odd smell, very, um...earthy I suppose. They also freeze and thaw beautifully without altering taste and texture. You have to eat these babies fast if you don't freeze them because they get stale and moldy in 4-5 days due to lack of preservatives.

Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Date Muffins

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups Quinoa Flour
2tsp baking soda
½ tsp vitamin C crystals
¼ tsp guar gum
2 tsp cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
¼ - ½ cup water (I usually end up having to add ½ cup, you need this mixture to be moist)
1 can sweet potato
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
½ cup safflower oil (or other oil)
1 tbsp maple syrup (you can use 2tbsp for a sweeter muffin)
1/2 cup chopped dates (could likely substitute raisins or prunes)

1. Oil muffin tins and preheat oven to 375C
2. In a bowl add water and sweet potato, oil, syrup and vanilla(optional)
3. Add all dry ingredients and mix well
4. Add dates
5. Bake for 15 minutes (or longer is necessary)
6. Cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes and then remove and enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ira's Baked Brie Salmon Steak

My husband surprised me with this simple healthy recipe the other day and it was so delicious! I think he should definitely cook for me more often :)

Preheat oven to 450, Set rack in middle, oven to broil


2 Salmon steaks, 1/2 pound each
1/4 cup butter sliced thin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp ground dill
onion, minced (1/3 of onion)
1 red pepper (cut into small chunks)
zucchini (med chopped)
3/4 cup mushrooms (halved)
goat Brie (10gs per piece - we used 2 wedges on each fish)
1 lemon to squeeze


1. Drop butter into pan, add salt and pepper, ginger, ground mustard, ground dill and onion. Put mixture in oven until butter is melted.

2. Then add vegetables as follows and stir after each of the following additions:
red pepper, cook 2 minutes, stir,
then add zucchini, cook 2 minutes, stir,
then add mushrooms, cook 2 minutes, stir.
*If it looks dry then add more butter (or add 2tbsp oil – we used safflower - instead if you don't want all that butter).

3. Add salmon in the middle of all of this, pushing vegetables to the sides of the baking pan and lying the salmon flat, pink side up. Dip or brush top of salmon with the sauce the vegetables have been cooking in. Coat the top of the fish with ground dill.

4. Cook for 15 minutes uncovered, longer if needed to cook your salmon(or @ 350 for 20 minutes if your oven broiler sucks like ours does). Once salmon is cooked add Brie, and lemon squeezed over top of Brie and salmon.

5. bake 5-6 more minutes more or until Brie is melted onto salmon.

If you are one of those lucky people who can tolerate dry white wine, it would compliment it nicely. A very nice gin like Hendrich's would also go just fine. I had a wonderfully boring glass of water with mine :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why is there sugar in my table salt?

Seriously, is the thought of having sugar in your table salt not just a little weird? I mean, have you even thought there was anything in your salt, other then, oh, salt? I know I didn't! But seriously, take your granulated table salt out of the cupboard and take a look at the ingredients list.

So why is all that stuff in there? What the heck does it do? I still can't over the fact that there is an ingredients list on my salt at all...I always thought it was just salt(well, with some iodine, yum). According to Simon Quellen Field, who wrote "Ingredients";

"Glucose is a sugar (the main sugar in corn syrup), and is added in small amounts (0.04%) to salt to prevent the potassium iodide from breaking down into iodine, which evaporates away (sublimes). Other potassium iodide stabilizers include sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium carbonate, and sodium thiosulfate. "

Check out the rest of that article.

I won't give any advice on whether people allergic/intolerant/sensitive to sugar cane (plant) should avoid salt containing sugar or not, I mean, the glucose could be from a corn source, or it may not be, I am sure further research or contacting manufacturers could get you some answers. If you are still worried, I would say try sea salt or kosher salt.

Don't fear your food, become informed! Food is pretty fascinating stuff :D

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Baking Disaster of the Week - Oatmeal Raisin Squares

Welcome to our weekly disaster. True, I don't have a disaster every week, but when I do I want to make sure I share it so I can learn from it, and maybe help you not make the same mistake! Remember kids, DON'T DO THIS AT HOME! But please, DO make improvements and tell me about them, and feel free to offer some constructive critisism!

So I decided to be adventurous and convert a non allergy friendly recipe into something more friendly. So I went to my old Betty Crocker's New Cookbook and found a recipe for Oatmeal-Raisin cookies. I changed this recipe to substitute: gluten free flour, gluten free oats, egg replacer, honey for both sugars and 1 whole cup of butter (for the butter and shortening because I don't yet know much about shortening substitutes). I also decided to make squares instead of drop cookies because my other drop cookie recipe (see Sara Safe Cookies) melts together into a sheet as it cooks anyway, so I thought this one might too. See below for the altered recipe!

How did it turn out? Well, it's in my disaster of the week post, so no surprise there :) Too much butter makes it feel very greasy, however, the taste is great! The texture is pleasant, except for the fact that it is a crumbly mess. You have to put these squares into a bowl and eat them with a spoon! I am thinking I will take this recipe and turn it into an apple crisp/apple crumble instead, because it is very tasty.

Obvious screw ups:
1. I think you are supposed to press dough tightly into the pan, which I did not do, I just poured it in.
2. I think that was a ridiculous amount of butter, I definitely need to find out if there exists any shortening I can actually use, or if I will have to somehow create my own.
3. The recipe says you can substitute unsweetened apple sauce for shortening, which means I could likely in the future use banana, or maybe even pumpkin or squash and maybe they would help the ingredients stick together better.
4. Perhaps I need a different egg replacer too, like flax seed?
5. Maybe this recipe could have been helped with more moisture added.

Oatmeal-Raisin Square Disaster!
Wet ingredients

2/3 cups honey
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Egg replacer for 2 large eggs
Dry ingredients
3 cups quick cook oats
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour
1 cup raisins (or you can use chocolate chips or nuts if you can use either of those)
1. Heated oven to 375
2. Mixed all wet ingredients
3. Mixed all dry ingredients together, and then mixed them into wet ingredients.
4. Poured into 9x9 silicon bake pan
5. Baked for 20 minutes

That concludes this weeks tale of disaster!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ice Cream I Can Eat? Hurrah!

I thought I was done with the lovely yummy cold sweet creamy heavenly treat called icecream... But then My mother in law, Nancy, found me this little piece of nivana;

I would eat this stuff even if I didn't have all the food allergies, It's yummy! Obviously a no go for those allergic too coconut, but if you aren't then give it a shot. It tastes like "normal" chocolate dairy icecream, with the same sort of texture, but it has a coconut flavour to it too.
Ingredients: organic coconut milk, organic agave syrup, chicory root extract, cocoa processed with alkali), carob bean gum, guar gum, NATURAL FLAVOR - course I always get slightly worried when encountering "natural flavour" on a label, it's really not at all reasuring to those of us with food sensitivities and allergies, but I had no adverse reations. I want to check into that out of curiousity though.

Yes, perhaps I am getting a little overly excited, but I am a little sick of pretending that dried fruit, as yummy as it is, tastes like candy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sara-safe Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This is still in development, but it is the second edible prototype. It has been adapted from a recipe in the Readers Digest Food Allergy Cookbook by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne. However, I still could not eat their allergy friendly recipe and had to make multiple adaptations, lol. Still not completely happy with this one, but at least it finally tastes like yummy cookie!!! Comments to help make it better are always appreciated!

½ cup softened butter
1/4 cup and 4 tbsp honey (the original recipe is 1/2 cup and 8tbp of cane sugars, use whatever sweetener you want and sweeten to your taste! Every sweetener makes this taste a little different though…)
Egg replacer for 1 egg
1 tbsp rice milk or goats milk

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour mix
½ cup almond flour (I added this because it drastically improves the taste of this recipe, sometimes I put more in, sometimes less)
1 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
1 tsp salt

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped up – make sure no soy (Lecithin – can be from soy or egg, I can’t have either!) or cane sugars

Cream sweetener and butter together, add egg replacer and milk to that.
Mix together dry ingredients, and then whisk into wet ingredients.

Place blobs on small cookie pan (does not matter where, they will all melt together anyway into one big giant sheet of cookie, I am tempted to put this into a cake pan and see if they make better cookie squares instead)

Bake for 13- 15 minutes at 350, bottoms are very prone to burning so watch! I recommend using a silicon baking sheet to help prevent scorching on the underside, trust me, it's worth it, these guys love to burn!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Brief Introduction

I am currently a web designer turned military software tester. This column is part of a creative outlet for me (believe me, I need one at my job!). I'll share weekly posts about recipes, recipe disasters, knitting patterns, various traditional and digital art and craft techniques, product reviews and related resources.

I have a fair number of food sensitivities and allergies which can cause havoc with my health. It has been a fun adventure learning to cook for all these issues, and also a major pain in the %*$ at times. I hope that by sharing these learning experiences, others might learn with me from some of my many mistakes!

As for my food issues I need to avoid; soy, eggs, cane sugar, peanuts, sulphites, and uncooked tomatoes. I have to limit my exposure to other foods as well; wheat (including wheat gluten and gliadin), barley, garlic, spelt, dairy, tomatoes, pineapple. My household also eats kosher, so I need to try to learn and observe those dietary restrictions as well :)

People can have difficulty understanding that food which is healthy for them, can make me very sick. I want to assure all of them that I am not making a comment on the healthiness of their diets, or the goodness of the food they enjoy. I have friends who worry that I could possibly be getting a healthy balanced diet or eating enough with these limitations. I assure them I am indeed eating very healthy (I really should post one of my weekly menus sometime!), in fact I eat more frequently then most of them :) That said, yes, I do miss the taste of certain foods, but not enough to ever eat them again, the days of migraines and weeks of rashes, not to mention other crippling effects, are simply not worth it! I better enjoy being healthier and more able to function day to day :D