Honey-ginger salmon

Coconut aminos are a new find for me, and I’m using it in place of whatever I used to use soy sauce for. It has a nearly neutral ph, which is good for someone who has interstitial cystitis. You can read more about how awesome coconut aminos are from Wellness Mama. I found out about it because Natural Grocers sends occasional ad magazines, and a recent one had a recipe for Honey-Ginger Salmon with Veggies for Two, which called for coconut aminos. The recipe looked good, but needed some modifying for us. The orange juice, garlic, cayenne, and broccoli had to go because all cause me problems in one way or another. We also cut the cabbage because my partner doesn’t like it. Here’s what we ended up with:

Salmon

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 wild salmon fillets

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
  • 4 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • Pinch of black pepper

Veggie noodles

  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 small beets, peeled and spiralized
  • 2 large zucchini, peeled and spiralized

See the recipe from Natural Grocers for the rest of the instructions. Even if you’re not crazy about beets, this recipe is worth trying out. My partner doesn’t like beets all that much, but loved them in this recipe.

Wild mushroom pate

Smitten kitten has a great wild mushroom pate recipe:

wild mushroom pâté

We modified it due to my food issues, and it turned out great. We left out the onions and the wine. Also, we used oil in place of the butter.

We’ve mixed it with wild rice and served it as a side dish. We’ve also had it on toast w/ chicken breast. And we’ve also stirred it into potato soup.

And we had it with crackers. Super yummy.

Butternut squash and other veggie leftover soup

10 oz. of butternut squash

~ one pound of greens (spinach, swiss chard, etc.)

1-3 red peppers

Cook the squash for 20 minutes in the oven at 350. Saute the red peppers until soft, then add greens and butternut squash. Serve half of this as a side dish with dinner.

The next day, put some vegetable or chicken broth in a blender (about 1/2 of a container), add the leftover veggies and puree. Repeat until all the veggies are pureed and pour into a pot. Add broth to make it thinner (if necessary) and heat until warm.

Eat as is, or add some cheese, maybe even some bacon. Season to taste.

Chicken soup of joy and goodness

I love soup and stews, and had to give up some of my favorites after the diagnosis of IC (the one I miss the most is pozole verde). At first I found that I didn’t enjoy soups without onions, but after some adjustments to how I cook I found myself enjoying a lot of soups again. While I doubt I’ll be having pozole verde ever, as that would be too hard on my IC, I’ve found some modifications for a standard chicken soup recipe that I am pleased with. Using the instant pot makes it fast and easy, which is why I call it the chicken soup of joy and goodness.

1 chicken breast

3 carrots, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 bulb of fennel, chopped

2 large red potatoes, chopped

32 ounces of chicken broth

1 Tbsp. sage

1 Tbsp. thyme

1 teaspoon marjoram

Salt & pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in the instant pot. Close and seal lid. Turn instant pot on for 20 minutes. Let depressurize for 15 minutes, and enjoy!

 

 

Thai food and cupcakes

We wandered around Portland for a bit today. After hitting Powell’s Books and hanging out there for a good bookstore fix, we went to lunch with some friends.

We enjoyed lunch at Thai Peacock. Great service, friendly staff, and yummy food. I had yellow curry, and it was great on this cold and wintery day. Eli had something that was sweet and sour (and can’t remember the name), and she was pleased with it. One friend enjoyed some spring rolls, and was pleased with the peanut sauce. Our other pal had some salmon that was amazing.

Our friends encouraged us to check out Cupcake Jones after lunch, and said they had gluten free cupcakes. We stopped in and I inquired about any soy ingredients. The staff were helpful and provided all the info I needed to make an informed cupcake choice. I opted for three mini cupcakes, one chocolate, one vanilla, and one red velvet. All were great, but my favorite was the red velvet.

 

Ground Breaker Gastropub, Portland, OR

I am visiting Portland for a conference, and am very pleased with all the different gluten-free options I’ve encountered at restaurants. Places here have been very accommodating about all of my food issues. Every time I have asked for information about an ingredient in something, my question has been answered. Folks who work in food service should be knowledgeable about the food they are serving, and it’s refreshing to not have all my questions met with a blank look or a “Um, I don’t think so”.

Ground Breaker Gastropub is 100% gluten free–not just the food, but the beer, too. Amazing! Our waitress was helpful and checked with the kitchen about the ingredients of different menu options if she didn’t know the answer to my questions. She also assured me that just about anything could be modified to accommodate my needs. I enjoyed lamb chops with risotto. So yummy. The lamb chops were cooked to perfection and very tasty. I had a taste of the Dark Ale on Nitro and the IPA. Both were really good. The IPA was especially tasty, but I decided to get the Dark Ale on Nitro since I haven’t found any decent gluten-free dark beer since I went gluten-free. It was really yummy and satisfied my hankering for dark beer.

I wish I lived in Portland, or that this place existed in Las Cruces. Great place, great service.

Make your life easier

During times of stress, most people have a harder time keeping up with healthy eating habits. For me, though, I don’t really have much choice but to try and keep up with my meal plans because my body suffers too much if I don’t. It used to be that if I forgot my lunch, I’d be able to grab something to eat on campus, and I could generally find something that was relatively healthy and tasty.

Life is different now, so I am always planning ahead and obsessing about meals. If we forget to pull something out to defrost, it generally results in a meal with eggs and potatoes (because we never seem to be out of either of those items). My partner works full time and is working on her doctorate. I’m an assistant professor on the tenure track. Our schedules are insanely busy and I frequently wish there was someone who could cook for us. Or that I didn’t have food restrictions.

My best pal told me about the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker and said it was a life changer. I wasn’t convinced. I asked if it was going to make my life easier than a crock pot. She assured me that it would, and said that she found her food more flavorful than when she used a crock pot. I became a little more interested. Then she told me it cooks frozen chicken in fifteen minutes. Hallelujah! So we caved and bought one.

I am in love with it.

The first thing I made with it was chicken, and I used frozen chicken breasts. A quick internet search turned up this video:

I followed her instructions (thank you, Busyzgirl), added a little broth, some roasted red pepper sauce and a bit of broth, and some basil.

In just a few minutes I had a yummy dinner. I used the leftover liquid to make a yummy sauce for the chicken. It was super delicious.

Make life easier for yourself. Buy an Instant Pot. Or ask someone to buy it for you.

Chocolate cake w/ raspberry creme frosting

With the IC diet restrictions, I am learning about those foods that are MUSTS to avoid, such as soy, and those that I can have once in awhile, like chocolate. A little bit every now and then doesn’t cause me any difficulties. Depending on where I am eating for a holiday, sometimes there aren’t any dessert choices I can have. For Thanksgiving, Eli offered to make a dessert that I could eat and suggested making a chocolate cake with raspberry puree. This is what evolved out of that idea.

We’ve found that for baking and deserts, King Arthur flours pretty much rock. We love their pancake mix and their muffin mix. Lately, Eli’s been using their All-Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mix and has had a lot of success making desserts.

For this cake, she used the chocolate cupcake recipe on the box to make the cake. She doubled it for the two layer cake she made.

chocolate cake

While the cake cooled, she made a raspberry puree for the middle of the cake. She used a 10 oz package of frozen raspberries, a bit of maple syrup to sweeten them, and lots of cornstarch (at least a quarter cup) to make it thick enough so it didn’t run over the sides or soak into the cake. She pureed the raspberries in a blender and used a strainer to get rid of the seeds.

rasp puree.JPG

One of the cake layers developed a sort of San Andreas Cake Fault in the cooling process. Unfortunately we don’t have a photo of how awesome the fault was, but suffice it to say the layer was nearly two halves. So, once the puree was cool enough, she spread it on top of the non-fault layer. Then she carefully placed the other layer on top.

For the frosting, we opted to make a raspberry vanilla buttercream frosting using 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and about a cup of raspberries. After we frosted it, we added some raspberries on top.

rasp choc cake

The cake turned out to be really tasty. Since we didn’t use a lot of maple syrup in the puree, the raspberry was a nice contrast with the chocolate and the frosting. We’ll definitely be trying this one again.

Chronic health issues and mindfulness

Many years ago when I was visiting Vermont with my best friend and her family, her father made a comment that stuck with me (for a variety of reasons). I was eating something, I can’t recall what, when he said “I hope you never gain weight, because you love food too damn much to not be able to eat whatever you want”.  At the time, I didn’t realize how much I conveyed my love of eating while I was eating (apparently I make mmm mmm noises as I eat). While I’ve never really worried much about my weight (and really, why bother, there are so many other things in life to get worked up about), now I do have to worry about what I eat. And it sucks.

The diagnosis of IC has been a hard adjustment for me. I already had a restricted diet, since gluten and dairy were already triggers for my belly. I eliminated all the triggers recommended when I was first diagnosed with IC and have been slowly adding them back in. At this point in the process, I’m aware of a number of different foods that either cause an IC flare, or cause problems with my stomach. So far, I know I can’t have soy, citrus fruits, onions, root beer, vinegar, chocolate, blackberries, cheese, strawberries, apples, garlic and tomatoes. I avoid the foods labeled with “caution” on the IC Food List, and sometimes try the ones listed as “try it”. Yet, I still struggle and feel deprived at times.

In reality, I know that I am not all that deprived. I have plenty of food to sustain me on a daily basis and don’t have to worry about going hungry. Yet it is a pain to have to plan meals out in advance every single day. I can’t forget lunch and grab something quickly because that will result in painful consequences that will last a week or more. I can’t just go to a party or out to eat with friends–I have to plan ahead to figure out if there will be food I can eat. And if not, I have to eat before I go. I also have to communicate with friends, acquaintances, and co-workers to clarify what will be served and what I can and cannot eat. Sometimes these conversations are uncomfortable. When I practice mindfulness all of this is a bit easier to cope with. It helps me be more intentional about planning meals, and more aware of the reactions I am having to my food choices. If you are struggling with food allergies and aren’t practicing mindfulness, I highly encourage you to give it a try. Check out these sites for more information on mindfulness practice:

http://www.mindful.org/

http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness

Chicken Soup-Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg chicken breasts
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 and 1/2 cups veggies (peas, carrots, and/or whatever you like)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Dissolve/mix flour into chicken broth and milk
  2. Add all the other ingredients
  3. Put into crockpot
  4. Cook on high for about 3 hours.

Next time I think we’ll add celery. It came out more soupy than stew-like. Maybe more flour next time or maybe some cornstarch next time.