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Archive for February, 2013

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And, NO, I was thankfully not in the car.

Sorry for my delay in getting posts up, but I have been side tracked by a hit and run side swipe in the Whole Foods parking lot!!

I found my car with someone else’s paint all over the back driver’s side after finishing my shopping. And just to think that I was wondering how I was going to kill an hour before picking up my daughter and her friend 🙂 !

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First, I took pictures of the car and ground where paint lay everywhere. Then, I ran back into whole foods to see if I could look at their video camera, only to learn that because their parking lot is leased, only an insurance company can have access to it. Grrr!

Just as I was leaving I ran into a lovely police officer who advised me to file a police report.

So, I head around the corner to (luckily) the police precinct, only to learn:

1. You have to have your insurance card and registration on hand, (so I had to go back to the car to fetch it!)
2. My deductible might be higher than the estimate, in which case it doesn’t behoove me to file it, and therefore I will never have Whole Foods video footage.
3. The only way to find out what is best for me to do is to go get an estimate before filing.

But honestly, I just want to watch the videos and catch the jerk who didn’t even bother to leave a message, other than half the paint off his/her car.

I guess I must have needed some adventure today. Lol!! Alas. . .

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My Daughter Posing with her Gluten-Free Jewel Pop

This is a quick and easy gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan snack.

Lemonade Popsicles

Ingredients:

– Fruit juice of any kind – we used lemonade aid, (but you can also reconstitute the frozen kind,too)

80-3879_Jewel Pop Molds-Main

Tovolo Jewel Pop Molds

Supplies:

– Popsicle molds or Dixie cups and Popsicle sticks
(We love our Tovolo Freezer Jewel Pop Molds, Set of 6, because they’re a perfect size and fit right on your finger!)

Directions:

1. Pour lemonade aid or fruit juice into molds*.
2. Put in freezer. The amount if time will depend on how large your Popsicles are.

*NOTE: If using Dixie cups and Popsicle sticks, you might want to place a piece of aluminum foil over the cup, make a small hole in the center for the stick, and put the stick through the hole. That way, the stick will not fall over.

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Mixing the Blueberries into the Oatmeal

So, as I decided to write my blog about the morning breakfast I cooked my daughter, I realized that I needed more information.  Of course I decided to go straight to the source . . . I called the GF Havest Company from whom I purchase my wonderful GF oats that don’t make me sick!  I had this wonderful talk with Seaton Smith, the owner of this small, Celiac-family run company.  I learned so much about the processing of oats and the scrutiny his oats go through to make sure there is no cross-contamination.  I wanted to share what I learned and why I’m in love with GF Harvest:

1. Owner & Operated by Celiac Family:  The GF Harvest company began when Forrest Smith, (son of Seaton Smith), as a teenager, became determined to develop uncontaminated gluten-free oat for him and his three generations of family diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  His desire led to an FFA entrepreneur project which became Gluten Free Oats, LLC.

2. Goes through Intense and Thorough Screening for Cross-Contamination: Seaton Smith, the owner and president, makes sure that there is mandatory family activity in the growing fields.  Since the fields rotate crops, all fields must lie fallow of any gluten grains for 2 full years before use.  Once the oats are grown, every field is walked by the GF Harvest inspection team, in addition to a QC (quality control) inspection by the University of Wyoming Seed Certification Service. By doing an inspection of the whole field it is not like some of the other GF oat milling companies that just test a small sample (2-3 pounds) from each field that can be from 100 to 1000 acre and statistically call it GF. Depending on the growing conditions, a 1000 acre field could produce over 5 million pounds of grain, so this is not a very good statistical sample of the field.  GF Harvest tests a much larger percentage of their oats in comparison.  After the field passes inspection by the University, the product can then only come in contact with grain bins, augers, and combines that are certified by the University to prevent cross-contamination as well.  When it is time to harvest the grain, the farm trucks harvest the raw oats, and each truck batch is tested before it is allowed to unload at the mill.  (Farm trucks are smaller than industrial size trucks, carrying only 16-25 thousand pounds of grain, which means a larger percentage of their grain is tested compared to larger operations).  Once the oats are rolled, they are tested again in GF Harvest’s own lab in addition to a preset regiment of 3rd party inspections by the University of Nebraska and GFCO (which is the GF certifying organization under the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG)).  Needless to say, these oats are the safest you can find out on the market, and the highest quality!!

3.  A Quick Cook: Their oats are super fast to cook over the stove-top, which amounts to about 2 minutes.

What are Oats?

Oats are a type of grain grown in fields.  The oat seeds are harvested from the field and then chaffed to pull of the hull (an undigestible part of the grain).  Once the hull is off of the oat seed, it is now called a raw groat.  Raw groats are then processed in some way (read below to learn more), which are then made into the oats we buy on the shelves today.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal vs. Instant Oatmeal

Instant Oatmeal is oats that are cut super fine, then pre-soaked and dried (according to Wikipedia).  Quaker Oats instant oatmeal, a typical example of instant oatmeal, has been “enhanced” with: SUGAR, NATURAL FLAVOR, SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, GUAR GUM, OAT FLOUR, CARAMEL COLOR, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN A PALMITATE.  Because the grain is smaller, the body digests it quicker, adding to glycemic (how quickly carbs convert to sugar) index.  To cook, all you do is add boiling water.

Old-Fashioned Oats fall into 2 categories: rolled oats and steel-cut oats, both of which have a lower glycemic index level than instant oats, because the grain isn’t cut as small.

Rolled Oats are raw groats that are steamed to stabilize* their shelf-life and then rolled (according to GF Harvest).  These just take all of 2-5 minutes to cook over the stove top.

Steel-Cut Oats are raw groats cut into 2-3 pieces and then steamed in the steam chest to stabilize.  They can take 20-30 minutes to cook.

*NOTE: If the raw groats are NOT steamed/stabilized, then they will go rancid within the week.

Benefits of Oatmeal

1. Reducing Cholesterol: According to the Mayo Clinic, Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad,” cholesterol. . . Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber.

2. Reducing Risk of Heart Disease: By adding fiber from sources rich in beta-glucan, once can reduce the risk of heart disease (Effect of beta-glucan from oats and yeast on serum lipids. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1999 Mar;39(2):189-202.)

In a research study published in Nutrition Journal in 2007 (6:6 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-6-6) found that ” . . . a practical dose of β-glucan can significantly lower serum lipids in a high-risk population and may improve colon health.”

Blueberries and Cream GF Oatmeal

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Blueberries and Cream Ingredients

Ingredients:

1 cup GF Harvest Oats
2 cups water
1/4 cup of cream, milk, or dairy substitute
1-2 TBSP Maple Syrup
1/8 – 1/4 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients except the maple syrup in the pot.  While constantly stirring, bring to a boil over medium/high heat. (I also smashed the blueberries as they warmed up).
2. As it begins to thicken up, add in your maple syrup to taste.
3. When it is the thickness of your liking, remove from heat and serve.

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Voila! – oatmeal is served

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Baked Hamantashan

So, when I picked up my daughter from school yesterday, they informed me that they would be eating Hamantashan.  I rushed home to see if I could replicate what I haven’t had in years.  I made gluten-free, dairy-free hamantashan and they were AMAZING!!  I got rave reviews.

Just as a note, lots of hamantashan are made with a citrus zest.  I really like mine just plain and simple, so I did not use any of that.

Stellar Hamantashan (GF/DF)

This recipe is adapted from the The Shiksa Blog:

Ingredients:

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Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I make my own, but the safest GF variety without alcohol is Frontier Vanilla Flavor)
  • 281.25 grams of GF multipurpose flour or about 9.92 oz (the real recipe called for 2 1/4 cup flours, which would be too much for this recipe.  If doing cups, I’d try about 2 cups for starters and you can always add as you go)
  • scant 1 tsp of Xanthan Gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 to 5 tsp water (if needed) – I did not need this
  • Any kind filling: jam, nutella, chocolate chips, poppy seed, etc.

You will also need

  • 1 baking sheets, 2 mixing bowls, wooden spoon, whisk,  parchment paper
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Servings: About 16 cookies
Kosher Key: Pareve (depending on filling)

Directions:

1.Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Weigh your flour and then add baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.20130221-185257.jpg
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, canola oil, and vanilla.
4.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet.
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Adding Dry Ingredients

Note:  this never formed the hard pastry dough I was thinking it would.  It was quite sticky.  I contemplated adding more flour, but decided it would be better to refrigerate.
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Mixed Wet and Dry

6. Refrigerate dough for about 20 minutes.

7.  On a sheet of parchment paper, break dough off and roll into about 1″ balls.  I completed each Hamantashan at a time, because the dough was a bit sticky and I didn’t want it to sit and get too warm.  Flatten them out, put a dollop of jam in the middle, then pinch corners together to make a triangle.

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Making the Hamantashan

8.  Place formed dough in a 350* oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes until edges just begin to brown.

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Finished Hamantashan

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Our Little Family

Our Little Family

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long.  In a nut shell, here’s what’s happened since Thanksgiving.  I was in Atlanta visiting family, started to feel achy, but didn’t run a fever so I thought it was all in my head.  I took a tylenol and it seemed to remove the ache to enjoy the rest of my stay.

I get back to Philadelphia and 2 days later I head to the Berkshires with my mom.  I had developed this nasty, deep, rattling cough.  I noticed that my pulse was racing and was twice as high as the normal rate.  I tried to go on some hikes, but found myself so void of energy.  I decided to listen to my body and head back in by the fire.

me & mom in berkshires dec. 2012

My mom & Me in Berkshires

Meanwhile . . . you have to watch this movie trailer I made to understand some complications to these problems:

Click on Link or Picture Below:

preview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaJIdI-aesc

Several days later I make it back to Philly where I find myself unable to get off the couch . . .  I probably ended up with the flu, which I think I never believed was actually real.  I just thought when people said they had the flu, they had a fever and chills.  I NEVER manifested a fever, but found myself sobbing on the couch.  I couldn’t lift my head.  I spent the next 2 weeks laying there with no TV and no books and I wasn’t even bored.  It did present a minor childcare problem though . . .

So, during these 2 weeks I find that I probably don’t have the flu, but bronchitis or pneumonia.  However, due to complications you’ll note in the video, I was unable to get an x-ray.  I also had cracked a rib or pulled a muscle at this point from coughing up what I call “Green Goblins”.  I was in so much pain I found myself sobbing on the floor.  I finally went on a Z-Pak and tylenol with codine.  Can you imagine that I’d never been on a painkiller before, so I decided to only take half?  Within 2 days I was able to stand for about 10 minutes at a time.

I finish the Z-Pak in time to fly to Atlanta on Christmas Day.  I’m functioning for all of a day and a half before I hit the couch again for another week with the stomach virus that all of us got – my husband, daughter, and parents.  It was almost funny . . .

My stomach has been a mess ever since the antibiotics and the stomach virus.  No matter how many probiotics I can get down, there seem to be some added complications, (so make sure you watch the movie trailer)!

All of this was probably a much needed way of my body to telling me to slow down.  I’m working hard to listen and so that’s just what I’ve been doing.

Needless to say, at the end of all of this, I’m resurfacing and apologize for not keeping up with my blog.  I promise to try to do a better job!

Hope you’re staying well this winter season!

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soothing smoothie supreme

So, if you read my previous post, you’ll understand why I’ve been so MIA.  In order to help re-boost my immune system and get foods in it that my stomach will tolerate, I came up with the Soothing Breakfast Smoothie, which can always be eaten at any time of day!

Since the antibiotics and stomach virus, dairy has been giving my stomach lots of trouble.  I was nervous a fruit smoothie would never have the right constitution and flavor without dairy, but had to give it a try any way.  I chose to add GROUND chia seeds to add to the mix as a thickener.  Chia seeds when wet become gelatinous, absorbing the water and creating almost a bubble around the seed.  This doesn’t actually happen in the smoothie, but it’s why when in your stomach, it helps you to feel full and allows the body to digest more slowly.

Below are several sections about the benefits of the ingredients I used.  Feel free to skip to the ingredient section below.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are also high in soluble and insoluble fiber.  The chia seeds I use from TruRoots have 6 grams of fiber for every tablespoon.  That’s almost 1/4 of your daily fiber intake since the recommended about is 25 grams!

I became obsessed with chia seeds after reading Born to Run by Chris McDougall.   In the book, the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico would blend maize and chia seeds on their ultra runs (like 100+ miles) through the desert for sustained energy.  Chia seeds were first used by the Aztec and Maya cultures and ground into flour and also used as fuel for stamina and to help maintain energy.

According to Web MD:

“Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flaxseeds). One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.”

According to Andrew Weil, M.D.:

Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants (making them able to be stored for extended periods without becoming rancid), fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.

For more nutritional information on Chia seeds, you can check here.

Berries

I also chose to use several different fruits, especially berries, which are high in fiber to help aid in a bit of constipation, which I’m sure we all get from time to time.  I swear, this DELICIOUS concoction has helped keep me quite regular.

Bee Pollen*

Ok, a bit of a correction on bee pollen.  My friend, Adam Schreiber, an urban bee keeper, who has just stepped down from being a 2 year president of the Philadelphia Bee Keepers Guild, explained to me what bee pollen really is.  Clearly, there seems to be a lot of misinformation out there on the web!  If you want to read more about Adam’s crazy soirees with the bees, check out his wonderful blog timebeeing.blogspot.com

According to Adam: The bees collect the pollen, mix it with a little nectar from the flower, [since] (they don’t typically have access to honey as they are out foraging), and pack it in their pollen baskets to carry back to the hive.  Once at the hive, they unload the pollen balls into cells and in those cells then mix a little honey in to make “bee bread” (GF of course!).  They don’t turn the pollen into honey; the nectar gets turned into honey in a separate process.  They keep the pollen separate in its own cells.  Basically the pollen is their protein source and the nectar/honey is their carbs.

It  extremely nutritive, and adds a delicious sweet crunch to the smoothies.

According to a chemical analysis from the Enviro Bee Products Distributors:
(below is taken almost verbatim directly from their website)

It is also high In B complex and vitamins C, D, E and Lecithin. Bee pollen contains over 50 % more protein than beef, yet its fat content is very low.

Vitamins: Provitamin A, B-1 Thiamin, B-2 Riboflavin, B-3 Nancin, B-5, B-6 Pyridoxine, B-12 (cyanocobalamine), Pantothenic acid, Vitamin C, F, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin H, Vitamin K, Vitamin PP, Folic Acid, Choline, Inositol, Rutin.

Minerals: Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, Copper, Iodine, Zinc, Sulfur, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Boron, Silica, and Titanium.

Other: Amino Acid, Carbohydrates, Fatty Acids, Enzymes & Co-Enzymes, Fats.

* Note that there seems to be mixed reviews about bee pollen in pregnancy, suggesting that you contact your doctor before ingesting.  It can also cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is suggested to eat a few pollen balls at a time and build up.

Soothing Breakfast Smoothie

Serving Size: about 1 cup blended

Ingredients:

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Smoothie Ingredients

1/2 cup of pineapple juice (but any liquid will work)1/2 cup frozen fruit of choice (I used pineapple)
1/2 cup frozen fruit of choice (I used strawberry)
(sometimes I add another berry here like raspberry or blueberry and you can play with the amounts)
1/2 banana
1-2 TBSP raw honey
1-2 TBSP ground chia or flax seeds (I use chia)
1 TBSP bee pollen (optional)

Directions:

I first put in the liquid, then the fruit, then the honey, and chia seeds and blend together using my immersion blender.  Once it’s all blended together, I stir in the bee pollen for extra crunch and flavor.

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Step 1: Laying Fruit

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Step 2: Immersion Blending

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Finished Soothing Breakfast Smoothie

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