alternative medicine · health · Herbs

Herbs in the Most Unexpected Places

Herbs are known for their rebellious nature, growing in the sidewalk cracks and the depleted soil abandoned alleyways of the world, but that’s not where I’m going with this post. I’m actually going to a far more suburban place….Trader’s Joe’s in fact. Look at what I found at my local (Redmond, WA) Trader Joe’s:

CB6CCC84-20DF-410E-BACD-2901B2C07225[1]AND, notice that they are organic too. Are these herbs becoming mainstream? Or is Trader Joe’s branching out into herbal waters? I mean the cacao powder makes sense, people do cook with it. But Maca is little more esoteric, unless people are using it in some way that has alluded me. If so, do tell! I put cacao powder into my chai-style digestive and antioxidant blend that I add daily to smoothies and coffee. It is full of antioxidants and tastes darkly, deeply, right with the chai spices. As for the Maca, I haven’t ever used it before but I couldn’t pass it up when it was right there in the aisle next to my favorite corn chips and chia seeds. Maca is an adaptogen that is known to support energy and  hormone levels, and can be used in place of (or along with) other adaptogens like Ashwagandha. I’m going to mix it into my current adaptogen powder blend which includes Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, and Rhodiola. I add that mix to my morning protein smoothie too, then I add other powdered herbs to my teas and coffees that I drink the rest of the day. Powdered herbs are a really great way to just add extra nutrition to any food or drink that you are going to put into your body anyway, so why not? What do you do with herbal powders?

dairy free · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gf foods · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · organic · picky kids · vegan · vegetarian

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos (Gluten-free and Vegan)

Just when I thought I never wanted another corn tortilla again, I got a craving for a taco with some sort of orange veggie in it. Whenever we go out to dinner we often go to one of two places where I order a butternut squash quesadilla. I love them, but I hate dealing with squash and its hard shell that eats knives for breakfast so I have never attempted to make them myself. It got me thinking though that wouldn’t a sweet potato taste just as good in that kind of meal? And if I could eliminate the cheese it’d be even better for our family, so onto the web I went and sure enough there are plenty of recipes for sweet potatoes and black beans together in all sorts of fashions~ tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. I went the taco route and used several different recipes to cobble together what is written below to work with what I had in my refrigerator. My husband and oldest son loved these by the way, as did I, and my youngest who only gathered enough courage to try one black bean and one piece of sweet potato admitted the black bean wasn’t bad. That says more to me than the fact that my husband is generally not a huge sweet potato fan, nor a big black bean fan, and really he prefers flour tortillas and definitely cheese and preferably meat. This recipe outshined all that. It is a keeper.

Vegan, Gluten-free Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Sweet potato and black bean taco

1.5 T vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil and olive oil)

1/2 t salt

1 yellow or red onion (I used red b/c that is what I had and the purple hue was so pretty)

1 pepper (I used 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, but orange or green would work)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium-large sweet potato

1 can black beans (or 1.5 c if using dried beans)

1 t cumin

freshly ground pepper to taste

corn tortillas

guacamole (or avocados)

Preheat oven to 400. Using a large cast iron pan or some other oven-friendly pan* sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic until the onions are translucent in 1 T of vegetable oil. (I used sunflower oil). In a bowl coat the sweet potato which has been skinned and diced into bite size pieces with 1/2 T of oil (I used olive) and 1/2 t of sea salt. Add this into the sauté pan and cook for 1 minute before transferring into the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm up the rinsed and drained beans on medium with 1 t cumin in a small sauce pan. Also warm up some corn tortillas** until they are soft. Take the pan out of the oven and if the sweet potatoes are cooked through add the beans and stir to get everything mixed together. Load the tortillas and top with guacamole or fresh avocados. It’s a symphony of flavors played just right. If it were up to me this is what I’d make for Thanksgiving, along with kale chips and pica de gallo salsa. It’s enough to make a pilgrim say, “Ole!” But alas, we are hosting this year and I’m going to have to stick to the more traditional items I’ve already planned.

sweet potato and black bean taco

 

* If you don’t have an oven proof pan, use one that you can top with a lid or plate and add 2 T of water to the mixture to steam it for approximately 5-10 min.

** I use Trader Joe’s corn tortillas b/c they are thick and sturdy, plus they are remarkably clean. Their ingredient list is all of: ground white corn masa flour, water, trace of lime. That’s it. Exactly how it should be. And they taste incredibly good, much better than any other corn tortilla on the market.Trader Joe's corn tortillas

 

dairy free · Food allergies · food sensitivities · gf foods · gluten free · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerance

More Gluten-free/dairy-free Discoveries

Besides the garlic bread that I’ve been making with the Trader Joe’s flatbread, I’ve also been making pizzas which my sons have declared better than delivered pizza, so that says it all. For the cheese I’ve been combining two goat cheeses together, one is that hard goat gouda from Trader Joe’s and the other is a mozzarella style that I found at Whole Foods. I combine the two b/c while the mozzarella one does indeed taste like regular mozzarella, it almost tastes too much, like mozz on steroids. The gouda has a much milder flavor and tames the other quite a bit to make a very yummy, kid friendly, cheese pizza. Here’s the empty package:  Mozzarella Goat Cheese

Today I used Namaste Foods’ pizza crust for the first time and the kids really love that too. I use that same brand for waffles in the mornings (almost every morning for my youngest) and it is wonderfully clean of ingredients that people commonly cannot tolerate. Here’s the package: Namaste Foods' pizza crust

I needed to spread the crust a bit thinner, but this is how it came out:

Gluten free Goat cheese pizza

The boys loved it and commented on the pizza crust specifically. I won’t rely on pizza and garlic bread for too long, but for now, during this transition period, it’s so nice to have easy to prepare foods that the kids enjoy. My youngest son has been open to trying more new foods too, just like the naturopath predicted! She said when kids stop eating foods they don’t tolerate well, their taste buds change. So far my son is eating rice again, like he used to when he was younger but stopped some time around 4 years old. He also has been eating granola which he used to turn his nose up at. Not that these additions are kale and quinoa, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. (Actually two steps!) I’ll take it.

celiac disease · dairy free · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gf bread · gluten free · gluten free bread · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten free lifestyle · gluten intolerant

Substitutes for Common Food Intolerances

I know that food intolerances can be cured and granted, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. We haven’t gotten our test results back yet but I’m already trying to get dairy out of our diets, and I’m leery of eggs and soy because they are common problem-makers too. This is not easy for a primarily vegetarian family, but if we can do it, anyone can, and honestly it hasn’t been all that difficult yet. My youngest who used to live on Annie’s boxes of shells and cheese now has a new love~ garlic bread sticks. I make the Trader Joe’s gluten-free, dairy free flat bread pizza crusts into garlic bread sticks by preheating the oven to 425, mix 1T of olive oil (per sheet of crust), with one clove of garlic and a dash of Mediterranean salt. I pour that on the flat bread and rub it until it is all evenly distributed. It says to cook for 6-10 minutes and I am finding 9 minutes works best for our oven. Once I take out the bread I cut it into 3 long strips, like bread sticks he recognizes from restaurants. He loves them, and I love the olive oil and garlic getting into his body. This is what it looks like and it is in the refrigerated section.

Gluten Free Pizza Crust
Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Also from Trader Joe’s we’ve been getting goat cheeses of all kinds. I found this goat cream cheese which is perfect on Udi’s bagels. Goat Cream Cheese

If you are watching fat/calories the above goat cheese is more in line with Neuchâtel cheese than cream cheese. Other cheeses I’ve talked about before, also from Trader Joe’s are these goat cheeses: Trader Joe's Goat CheesesThe triangle is a hard cheese which is good for shredding and snacking, the others are a soft, spreadable cheese that go well with sweeter foods. I am looking forward to making gluten-free crepes with those cute little medallions and fresh strawberries.

Another substitution I’ve made lately is cooking up Lundberg’s Tuscan Risotto instead of their parmesan one that we used to eat all the time (with broccoli and sometimes smoked salmon on the side.) I was very afraid my oldest would revolt against this change because he adores parmesan risotto, but he actually loved the dairy free Tuscan kind. He said it tasted just the same~ works for me!

Lundberg Tuscan Risotto
Lundberg Tuscan Risotto

These are just quick fixes so far, but it helps to make the task seem less daunting to have easy to prepare meals on hand that the kids really like. Once they are used to their intolerances, we will work on adding in more variety. Watch, they won’t even be dairy intolerant! That’d be fantastic, but less dairy in their lives can’t be a bad thing. My son’s sinuses confirm that. It’s nice we are entering summer too for all the fruits that are available. They add color and variety to every meal in a happy way.

 

 

food · gluten free · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten free symptoms · gluten free travel · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerance diagnosis · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant

Pineapple Juice

While living in Prague my spectacular flatmate and I talked about everything under the sun, but really, the majority of the time, by a significant amount I’d say, we talked about food. Usually it was what we’d be eating if we were home right now, or in some other city, or what we ate at such and such restaurant, and what we would like to cook if only we could find the ingredients in these tiny little grocery stores. Because of that, I know far more about the frozen foods in Canada’s fine stores than any American should, and she probably will make a pilgrimage to a certain dark coffeehouse in a bad corner of Cincinnati one day. At the time we were both pescatarians in a city that is more red meat and potatoes than Texas. Needless to say, our options were limited. We lived on bread and cheese and surprise, surprise, I got horribly sick for months. At that time I was not aware of my gluten intolerance, but my natural foods background let me know it was something diet related. I started steaming broccoli for breakfast and living off Uncle Ben’s minute brown rice. And pineapple juice. Prague didn’t have much in the way of juices, but it had the best pineapple juice ever~ we drank it daily out of the same kind of box we later in the day would drink our ‘fine’ wines. The juice sections in Prague grocery stores at the time amounted to about half of an end cap. My flatmate went to Berlin over the holidays and all I remember from her trip was that the juice sections there were whole aisles, just like here. Anyway, at Trader Joe’s last night I saw they have a new pineapple juice in the cold section and I just had to try it. The ones in glass that sit on the shelf have never lived up to Prague’s standards so I have cautious hopes for this one. It isn’t organic so I won’t get it often, but in homage to my lovely friend and our days in Prague I’m going to down a glass and then throw together a sopsky’s salad, hold the fried cheese, please.