Friday, September 26, 2008

Taco Soup

Soup with a mexican flare, and great to make when the fresh food in the fridge is getting low.

1 lb beef
2 onions diced (or blend in blender)
3 cans or 6 c. cooked pinto beans
2 c. frozen corn
2 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomatoes w/chiles (or sub another can diced tomatoes if this sounds too spicy)
2 TBS taco seasoning mix
1 TBS ranch salad dressing mix

Brown beef & onions, add everything else to the pot. Bring to a boil, simmer 20 minutes. Serve with sour cream, cheese, chips, chopped green onions as desired.


Yeah, I know this is a recipe blog and you won't want to eat this... But I figured a few good home remedies could be fun so I'm starting off with warts.

My 4 year old daughter had a huge wart on the side of her foot. So big that it was even sending out "shooters" to grow more. I asked a relative of mine who is also a podiatrist about it and he said we really needed to get it removed. I called a local podiatrist, made an appointment a month out, since that's how busy he was. In the meantime I researched alternatives and decided to give Apple Cider Vinegar a try.

Here's how to kill warts:

cotton balls
apple cider vinegar

Spread out the towel to work on to prevent drips. I usually do this right before bedtime and so we do it in the bedroom. Pour a small amount of ACV into a small cup. Make a small ball of cotton from the cotton ball. Dip gently into ACV, without saturating it. Put the cotton on the wart and place a bandaid over the cotton ball. Leave it on all night and day. Replace the next night, or can change in the morning.

The wart will puff up big and white, and then the center will turn black. And then the wart will fall off (may need to help scrape it off with an emery board or pumice stone.) Occasionally, there will still be an area that is a smaller wart under the larger one that fell off. Depending on the size and deepness of the wart, this can take a few days to a few weeks.

If the area becomes red and tender, take a break for a day or two or more. Sometimes the wart does become painful as it is dying.

My two year old got a big kick out of us doing this every night. She enjoyed watching the process very much. We called it "The Wart Factory" and if I forgot to do it, she'd come and say (very excitedly) "We have to do wart factory!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Creamy Corn Soup

This one is loaded with veggies but the kids have no idea. Unless of course they help you make it... It's adapted from a recipe my nephew's wife shared with us. A food processor and a stick blender make this soup a snap.

2 T butter
1/2 onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 small red potatoes, diced (can use regular potatoes but red are creamier)
1 lb baby carrots or regular carrots, diced
4 cups chicken broth (or more, enough to cover veggies)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 to 3/4 c. heavy cream or milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese, optional

Saute onions in butter. Process the rest of the veggies in food processor to chop up and add to the pot. Add chicken broth to cover veggies. Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are tender (if you've chopped the veggies up small, then this will only take 10-15 min.) Use a stick blender to blend the soup until smooth. Add corn and cook for a few minutes until it's heated through. Remove from heat and add cream, salt and pepper and cheese if desired (or serve cheese as a side topping.)

This is a very versatile recipe, because you can use pretty much whatever veggies you have on hand, and make the pot of soup as big as you want. I've thrown in broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, etc and no one is the wiser.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Peanut Butter Dip

With fall in the air, that means apples. Crisp cold apple slices are perfect to dip in peanut butter dip!

½ c. creamy PB
1 cup vanilla yogurt
½ cup whipped cream
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Mix together and enjoy!

Tuna Broccoli Rice Casserole

Perfect for casserole night! And one of the very few tuna casserole recipes that does NOT contain cream of whatever soup.

4 -5 c. cooked brown rice
1 c. chopped celery
1 sm chopped onion
1 c. whipping cream
½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
½ tsp dried tarragon or other spice
2-3 cans albacore tuna, drained
1-1/2 cups chopped broccoli, thawed (or if fresh, lightly steamed)

Schlop it all together in a bowl. Dump into a 9x13 pan. Cover with shredded cheddar or parmesan cheese if desired. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

Note: I blend my onions in the blender with a little water because I have kids who won't eat onion chunks! Sometimes I even toss in the other veggies too. You can add carrots as well.

You can also omit the tuna if desired (which I must admit to doing in a separate portion for my fish-hating child...)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Going Gluten Free, part two

Going gluten free is a huge change your life. Here are a few more ideas of what to expect and how to cope.

(1) No guts, no glory - When you are gluten intolerant, your gut doesn't assimilate vitamins and minerals the way it should. The villi in the intestines have been flattened, rather than being free to release digestive enzymes like they should. The first few months to a year after going GF you should help your gut heal. It's very common for gluten intolerant people to be allergic to other foods too, especially lactose. If you can heal your gut, there's a big chance you won't be allergic to those other foods anymore.

My daughter couldn't tolerate lactose or corn (and some other foods which weren't as major.) We avoided those foods when she first went GF. However, she could tolerate homemade yogurt, and found that to be extremely healing and soothing to her tummy. After a few months of being GF and eating a lot of yogurt, she was able to tolerate any food she wanted (except gluten of course.)

If you have other food allergies, I'd suggest avoiding those foods as much as possible, and taking probiotics and/or eating homemade yogurt, kefir, and other foods with natural cultures in them (as tolerated by you) to help your stomachs heal.

(2) Contamination - When you are gluten free, you really have to be gluten FREE. You cannot eat anything with any gluten in it, and you can't eat anything that has been contaminated. Watch out for foods cooked in toasters/toaster ovens, grills, griddles, waffle irons etc. Be sure not to use cutting boards/knives that have sliced gluten breads. Wash dishes thoroughly with soap and hot water.

(3) Cheating - Don't do it! You'll feel it (unless you're one of those very few people who have no symptoms.) It's hard not to cheat, but this isn't like a diet, it's a lifestyle that dramatically increases your health.

(4) Should the whole family go GF? - Unless the whole family is gluten intolerant, it is very difficult to have the whole family eat GF. On the positive side of having the everyone GF, you will reduce contamination issues at home, and the person who eats GF won't feel singled out. On the negative side, eating GF can be very expensive if you're not careful and not everyone will want to never eat bread. If you do choose to have the whole family eat GF at home, they don't have to follow that rule outside the home. Our family isn't totally GF at home, but most of what we eat is GF.

(5) Dining Out - You've gotta be careful when eating out. It can be done, but contamination is always an issue. If you're used to eating out, you'll find that you will need to cut back drastically on that habit. There are some eateries that do offer GF options. The Spaghetti Factory does offer GF meals - if you call ahead. Always ask at restaurants and don't be surprised if they have no idea what you're talking about.

(6) Join a support group - It's helpful to network with others when you're gluten free! You can find all sorts of good info like foods that are officially GF, recipes, restaurants that are GF friendly, etc. GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) is one of the biggest nationwide support groups. There are also local chapters like this one in Utah.

(7) Read Labels - be sure to read every label! Gluten can hide in many places in processed foods, such as artificial colors/flavors, msg, food starch, etc. You have no way of knowing if gluten is in that product, unless the ingredients are basic and straightforward or it specifically says "gluten free" on the label. Many companies have begun to label foods as gluten free which has saved a lot of label reading time. Watch out for products that say they've been manufactured in a plant which also processes wheat.

(8) Plan ahead - This one is so hard for me, but you've got to do it. Whenever you go places, bring food with you because you don't know what you'll find! Menu planning is a must.

(9) Meal Ideas - Breakfast: You can buy cold cereals that are gluten free, but they are very expensive. Try instead fruit or green smoothies, blender waffles, yogurt, hot brown rice cereal, eggs, etc. Lunches & Dinners - Soups, salads, tortilla rollups, oriental, mexican, potatoes, meat, etc. Lots of ideas on my blog. Eat simply!

(10) Snacks & Treats - popcorn, peanut butter balls, smoothies, fruits & veggies, fruit leather, cheesesticks, nuts, ice cream (or coconut milk ice cream), chocolate, homemade pudding, flourless cookies, GF brownies, yogurt, fudge, etc...

There are still many tasty things you can eat, especially if you can get other allergies to clear up. You can still eat well, and you'll probably find you're eating healthier and feeling better than you ever have before. You can do it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Soup Stock

Making your own soup stock is so ridiculously easy, I wonder why I've been throwing out my meat bones all these years. It's much healthier for you too!

Basic recipe (adapt to the amount of bones you have):

Chicken carcass (from 3-4 lb chicken)
6 c. water
1 onion, sliced in half
3 big carrots, in chunks
1 -2 stalks celery, in chunks
salt and pepper to taste.

Toss it all in a pot. Bring to boil, then let simmer for an hour or so. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes, then pour through strainer into a bowl. Discard all that gross stuff, and keep the broth. If you want to skim off fat, put it in the fridge, and skim it off after the fat rises to the top.

You can do this with chicken drumsticks, turkey carcass, beef roast/steak bones, etc.

If I don't have time to make stock from leftover bones right away, I just toss the bones in the freezer. Then when you make the stock, you can just pour the frozen carcass right into the soup pot.

Use the chicken stock right away to make soup, or you can refrigerate it or freeze it for later use.

White Chicken Chili

My son had this at a friend's house and liked it so much he asked me to make it. Well, 6 months later... I finally got around to it and it was delicious!

2 TBS butter
1 onion, chopped (or pureed if your kids are like mine and hate onion chunks)
6 c. chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
4 oz can chopped green chilies
3 cans (or 5 c. cooked) white beans
1 to 1-1/2 c. cooked chopped chicken
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in large soup pot. Saute onions. Add chicken broth, garlic and seasonings. Let broth simmer for at least 10 minutes, or up to an hour or more. Add more liquid if needed. Add beans and chicken and heat through.

Serve with sour cream and cheddar cheese if desired. Can serve with cornbread or tortilla chips.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Going Gluten Free, part one

"What do you eat on a gluten free diet?" "How do I get started?" I get asked these a lot since my daughter has been eating gluten free for the last 4 years. At first glance, the task seems insurmountable - everything seems to have gluten in it, and you must avoid any little trace of gluten. Yet many people do it and find lots of great benefits from eating gluten free. Here are some tips:

(1) Think outside of the box. Cut waaaay down on processed foods - almost everything boxed or canned has some form of gluten in it. It's healthier and cheaper for you anyway.

(2) Eat naturally gluten free foods - You can't eat bread, but there are still lots of delicious things you can eat such as fruits, veggies, nuts, rice, potatoes, meats, legumes, dairy, eggs etc.

(3) Avoid gluten free "substitute" foods. Don't go crazy at the health food store purchasing breads and other items that say "gluten free." These are very expensive, aren't usually the healthiest foods around, generally have little or no fiber, and typically do not taste very good.

(4) Some gluten free foods *are* worth the extra expense. Some gluten free substitution foods are worth the extra money - on occasion. Tinkyada brown pasta actually tastes good, has a good texture and lots of fiber, and even other family members like this pasta. Kinnickkinnick breads are probably the best GF tasting breads (but nutritionally like white bread). The pizza crusts are great to have on hand in the freezer if everyone else happens to be eating pizza. KinnickKinnick oreos and Montina chocolate chip cookies are fairly good substitutes when you get that craving.

(5) Change your thinking about bread consumption - When gluten free, you won't be eating bread like you used to. That's just the fact of the matter. Most Americans are used to eating some form of bread or grain with every meal, so one mistake many people make when first going gluten free is to try to purchase a gluten free substitute for that bread instead. That's costly, and quite truthfully, not all that tasty. Forego the bread/grains or substitute gluten free (easy to find) corn tortillas, corn chips to eat as rollups or with soup. Skip the buns for hamburgers. Buy rice crackers and use as crackers, or blend and use as bread crumbs.

(6) Eat ethnic foods. We tend to eat a lot more Chinese, Mexican, Indian foods, with some good old meat 'n potatoes thrown in. Soups are always easy to make gluten free too.

(7) Make your food from scratch - it is definitely cheaper to make your own foods from scratch and safer. Try Sue Gregg's blender waffles (inexpensive and the whole family likes them), arrowroot brownies (recipe posted soon), flourless chocolate cakes (gourmet dessert that everyone will love.)

(8) When baking, use GF substitutes in recipes - many recipes with little flour in them can easily be made GF. For example, use arrowroot or cornstarch for thickening soups and sauces, use sorghum flour in fruit crumbles, etc. The recipes that are most easily adapted to GF are those with little flour. I'll post a GF Flour primer soon.

(9) No need to purchase tons of GF Cookbooks - Truthfully, most any recipe you want can be found online. And most GF cookbooks are full of gluten free substitute recipes (like breads and such) which don't really taste that great. It's easier to eat naturally GF foods.

(10) Invest in a Blendtec or Vitamix - might sound like a strange investment for going gluten free, but the biggest benefit is being able to make "fast food" such as popsicles, fruit or green smoothies, soups, salsas, etc. We use ours a LOT!

Part 2: Health issues, other allergies, healing your gut, food ideas for breakfast/lunch/ dinner/ snacks, contamination, eating out, support groups, should the whole family go gluten free? and more...