Feeding the bunnies at Jericho beach
When I saw the posting for Martha Stewart's Easter Egg craft using foods as colourful dyes, I knew we had to try it. My son who is 7 was excited to get crafty and we decided to use beets, red cabbage and turmeric to make the dyes. Martha's blog has an excellent colour-coding chart to show how to get the colours that you want and how long to let the eggs sit in the dye. Pretty soon my daughters (age 12 and 10) were making their own creations with some fantastic ideas. Using stickers that had strong adhesion and interesting shapes, they were able to create white designs on the eggs by placing them on the egg and then putting the egg in the dye. To get the white coloured, we removed the sticker after the first dye then put the egg in a second dye. There are so many possibilities. Not wanting to waste foods, we used some hard-boiled eggs and some hollowed eggs and reserved the whites and yolk for an afternoon omelette and kept the beets and cabbage to add to a stew for dinner tonight. However, the hollowed eggs float and are hard to get a strong colour.
Traditional holiday crafts and foods have been adapted well so that people with sensitivities and those striving to eat and exist more mindfully can take part. Growing-up in a Jewish home, I always looked forward to Passover and eating matzo. As I identified gluten as a strong sensitivity about 6 years ago, I haven't had it or some other traditional foods since. This year I went on-line to see if I could track down a gluten-free matzo recipe or if there was a product already made and I found it! Next year, we will give it a try.
Raising our kids in a mixed-marriage, whole-foods, naturopathic-minded house means that they are exposed to many new and different foods that maybe their friends at school are not. Protein shakes, baked kale, gluten-free desserts and quinoa are common foods around here yet are new to many friends of our kids that come over for a meal or sleep-over. It is odd for them to see a house without milk in the fridge or ice cream in the freezer but I'm hopeful that the excitement about good, healthy options will carry home to their families too.
Anyway, getting back to the eggs - I hope that this post didn't come too late and that naturally dyed eggs will be decorating tables over this long weekend. I added a teaspoon of salt as was recommended in the comments to hold the colour. And as I am learning all of the time, there are always adaptations and options for people who eat differently than others. Usually a quick Internet search will lead you to substitutions or alternative recipes so enjoy!
Every day that I am at the clinic with patients, I am going over food sensitivity testing and explaining the foods that should be cut out of the diet for the near future. Quite often dairy, gluten or eggs are at the top of the list. At first glance patients look at the results and think “ok, this isn’t so bad”. Then favourite foods come into mind and questions are plenty!
One of the most helpful tips that I can give is a list of resources for recipes and ideas for substitutions to common ingredients. One bonus of figuring out which foods are causing physical and mental symptoms is that it helps push people back to making their own meals and avoiding many processed foods. My favourite cookbook, which I have mentioned many times on my social media sites, is “Whole Life Nutrition” by Alissa Segerstein and Tom Malterre. They have published 2 cookbooks which are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and egg-free (1st book only is egg-free, the 2nd seems to be pretty heavy on the use of eggs) and I personally use the first book several times per week to cook for my family. You can purchase the cookbooks at their website at www.nourishingmeals.com or at both of my clinics.
Along with the cookbooks, Alissa Segerstein keeps an excellent blog at the site above that holds many recipes along the same lines as the cookbooks. There is also a special section on the elimination diet which can be followed as a cleanse or to help determine food sensitivities. You can sign-up to receive the new posts and recipes as they are published which is nice to have some inspiration for up-coming meals.
My second-favourite gluten-free/dairy-free recipe and blog site is the Gluten-free Goddess Recipes http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.ca where you can find just about anything. There is a “how to go gluten-free” section, recipes for vegetarians and vegans and an FAQ section. In fact, I just made these delicious peanut butter, quinoa flake cookies for my daughter and her friend for their sleep-over tonight. I would suggest reducing the sugar by 25-50% which I will do next time and add in some dark chocolate chunks (Enjoy Life brand has an allergen-free variety) for fun.
On a final note, if you are becoming gluten-free it is a good idea to maintain a wide-range of baking ingredients for all of these exciting new recipes. About once a month I make a special trip out to Galloways http://gallowaysfoods.com on Marine Drive just into Burnaby. This is a specialty store that carries all of the alternative flours such as sorghum, teff, millet, brown rice, tapioca, buckwheat etc. at a better price than our local natural health food stores. You can buy the flours and sweeteners that you use more of in larger quantities and find just about any ingredient used in whole food baking. The best vegan gluten-free bread that I bake at home is the Honey Whole Grain bread found in the Whole Life Nutrition cookbook and all of the ingredients are at Galloways.
I hope that you find these resources as helpful as I do. If there are any additional allergen-free sites or cookbooks that you would like to share, please leave a comment to tell us all about it!
When you sit down to a healthy, home cooked meal it feels good. Not just the pride involved with doing something good for your body but also knowing each ingredient used ie – no additives and preservatives, perhaps no GMO foods and maybe cooking with mainly organic choices. Left-overs to bring for lunch the next day or to provide a quick dinner for a day or two to come are also beneficial. So for today’s blog, I thought that I would take a step back from the details of the foods that should be consumed to more of a guideline of what your plate should look like when you sit down.
Going through naturopathic medical school, there was an excellent nutritionist/ND who taught nutrition for several terms. She introduced me to the 25-25-50 rule and I have used it just about with every patient to explain how to eat healthy. When looking down at your plate, you should see 25% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 50% vegetables with a metaphorical drizzle of healthy oils on top.
Carbohydrates 25%. This represents complex carbohydrates, which are important for energy and metabolism as well as containing many important micronutrients like B vitamins and minerals. The portion size is around ½ cup of grains such as brown rice, quinoa and whole grain pasta. This category also includes starchy vegetables for example corn, potatoes, yams, squash, beets and other roots. Try rotating through different carbohydrates to get a wide variety of nutrients within a week. One of my favourite sides is mashed roasted sweet potato with rosemary, garlic and olive oil.
Protein 25%. A portion of meat or fish is around the size of your palm, corresponding to about 3 ounces. Tofu and beans/legumes are other good sources of protein when mixed with a grain to provide a complete protein meal containing all of the essential amino acids. Choosing good quality meat is important - look for organic or non-medicated, grass-fed or wild. Non-vegetarians should have a few vegetarian meals per week, perhaps 2 or more with fish, another 2 with poultry and a meal per week of red meat. Try buffalo or bison as an option as it is usually free-range, grass fed and hormone-free.
Vegetables 50%. This is where most often patients are telling me that they need to increase the amount consumed. Remember that the 50% vegetables do not include starchy vegetables so we are looking at mainly greens. Salads, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard as well as brussel sprouts, peas, green beans, broccoli, zucchini and so on. Since raw vegetables can be more difficult to digest for some, lightly steaming them is the preferred method. See below for a delicious recipe for homemade gomae.
Healthy drizzle of oil. By cooking with healthy oils or using nuts, seeds or avocado in your meal, this component is covered. Olive oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil are all very nutritious and can handle higher temperatures without oxidizing. Other oils such as sesame and specialty types are best used after cooking as an added flavour or dressing. A serving of nuts or seeds is a small handful and about 1/4 – 1/3 of an avocado contains all of the good fats that you need. The gomae recipe below covers both the vegetable component and healthy oils.
Dinning atmosphere. Another faculty member told us that she lights a candle at each meal to promote a restful and relaxing setting for meals. Every bite is chewed slowly and the meal itself takes a good 30 minutes to eat. While this might be unrealistic for most of us with busy lives and families, the concept is important. In order to properly digest, we need our bodies to return to parasympathetic mode, or “rest and digest”. This is the best way to absorb all of those nutrients that you have spent time and effort preparing into a great meal. So, try not to eat at your desk or have dinner standing up in the kitchen. Take the time to settle, sit and enjoy!
This yummy dish is packed full of nutrients, you will never make enough to satisfy everyone. My kids will eat a half bunch of spinach each and still ask for more!
1-2 bunches of spinach, washed and trimmed
5 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1.5 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
honey or unrefined sugar to taste
Steam spinach until wilted, remove from heat. Gently squeeze to remove some of the extra water.
To prepare the sauce, using a coffee grinder or other electric blender, grind the sesame seeds until a thick paste forms. Remove from grinder and place in a small bowl. Add the sesame oil (I used toasted sesame oil when I can find it), tamari and honey and mix with a fork until combined. Taste and add more sweetener if desired. Add sauce to spinach and refrigerate as often gomae is served cold. Enjoy!