Monday, October 31, 2011

Benefits of Homemade Broth - and a Lemon Chicken Soup Recipe

For the last week I have been slowly introducing myself to the GAPS diet.  GAPS stands for the Gut and Psychology Syndrome, a book by Natasha Campbell-McBride M.D. The book focuses on the link to gut health and your overall mental and physical health. The diet is said to help heal damaged digestive systems, which in turn can also substantially help many conditions, such as Autism, Dyslexia, Depression, Dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, Schizophrenia, and any other condition that has a link to gut dysbiosis. I am suffering from this imbalance, which I believe caused systemic candida and a host of other symptoms.

The diet recommends you use the bones from chickens, beef etc. to make nutrient dense broths that help your immune system. You know, the way your grandmother made soup before all of these MSG laden and artificially flavored broths were so common in supermarkets? And trust me, it tastes so good.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mrs Winstons - Healthy Salads, Sandwiches and Smoothies

Mrs. Winston's Green Grocery has been voted the best salad bar in Santa Monica and Los Angeles (check out Yelp's reviews), and when you go you'll know why. This health food store and lunch spot boasts high quality produce and are eco-conscious (the salad containers are made form post-consumer plastic bottles). Everyone from vegans, vegetarians and just those who want delicious, organic whole foods will love the large selection of salad bar offerings. Other salad bars can't compete!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grain and Gluten Free Almond Pancakes

This recipe is good for a light, fluffy "Paleo" version of the All-American pancake. I found the recipe and customized it after reading Mark Sisson's Paleo site "Marks Daily Apple."

The great thing about pancakes is they are so versatile. You can add apples, bananas and walnuts, blueberries, or maybe some mini chocolate chips. Recently I made some with unsweetened canned pumpkin, fresh grated ginger and cinnamon. Add whatever you like!  Here is the basics, you do the rest:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Border Grill Los Angeles

Working in downtown Los Angeles is quite convenient when it comes to food, since there are so many amazing restaurants and food vendors to choose from, most within walking distance. But since I'm eating gluten free and currently dairy free, most of the time I bring my lunch to work. However on Fridays, I sometimes like to go socialize with coworkers, unwind with a drink and enjoy a good meal to start off the weekend.

Situated on corner of 5th and Figueroa below the Union Bank building is Border Grill, a modern Mexican restaurant that focuses on the cuisine of Oaxaca and the Yucatan. What I love most is that Border Grill uses seasonal, local and organic produce whenever possible, and the meat and dairy is raised without the use of hormones and antibiotics. And they are allergy friendly! Need I say more?

During this particular visit, I ordered the turkey tostadas. The server and manager were very helpful and took every precaution to make sure my meal was gluten free. Made with grilled turkey meat, black beans and tomatoes, roasted corn and cotija cheese atop of shredded lettuce with a flavorful Caesar dressing, the tostadas were not heavy even for a summer day. They were tangy and refreshing, as was their pomegranate lemonade!

We ate our meal on the outdoor patio overlooking the city skyline of the financial district. I especially liked their flower boxes containing brightly colored Lantanas, and their funky retro sunny pink and orange floral table cloths. It made me feel like I was a kid back in my great grandma's backyard. The ambiance set the mood for a fun lunch.

If you can't make it for lunch, check out their Happy Hour Monday through Friday - 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Border Grill also has locations in Santa Monica and Las Vegas. If you're a food truck fan, you should track down their Border Grill truck roaming the streets of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gluten Free Snack Ideas

If you've read my blog, then you know by now that I enjoy cooking and opt to eat whole, healthy and naturally gluten free foods. However, there are times when I want a fast and healthy snack or breakfast that isn't going to take long to prepare.  Here are some of my favorite gluten free, (and many dairy and sugar free), bites and snacks.

  • Organic peanut butter and sliced Granny Smith apples. You can drizzle honey or agave for some sour and salty sweetness. Also good is banana with any kind of nut butter. 
  • Smoothies. I like almond milk with blended organic coconut butter, frozen mixed berries, vanilla bean and a dash of agave syrup. Make sure to add in the coconut butter through the top of the blender while running, otherwise the cold will cause the butter to harden and will not mix thoroughly.
  • Avocado halved, sprinkled with sea salt, lime, crushed black pepper and Tapatio. Or, add a few tablespoons of pico de gallo. Good healthy fats will keep you full. Eat with a spoon! This is one of my favorite go-to snacks.
  • Almond meal muffins or pancakes. I buy almond meal at Trader Joes or Whole Foods, and add vanilla, eggs, cinnamon and whatever fruit you want. You can also make your own almond meal. Good source of protein and vitamin E. And since I brought up almonds.....
  • .....Nuts! I love raw or roasted almonds, a handful of walnuts or macadamias - chocolate covered are good if you can eat sugar. I like to buy raw almonds and roast them in the oven myself; they taste better to me, maybe because of their freshness. And it fills the house with a wonderful aroma.
  • Chocolate lover but don't want to eat a lot of sugar?  Get 70-85% dark chocolate - I like Trader Joe's or Lindt dark chocolate. You can mix it up and eat it with a handful of nuts, or make mini peanut butter "bites" by spreading nut butter between a few small blocks. 
  • KIND Bars are my favorite when I cheat (no sugar for me most of the time). They have many flavors - my picks are the Cranberry Almond and Almond Cashew Flax. The Peanut Butter and Strawberry bar tastes just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!  The lowest sugar version is the Nut Medley.
  • Two spoonfuls of coconut butter. (By now you are seeing a trend and know I am a nut butter freak. It's one of the best sources of protein and healthy fats out there, and keeps you full.) I like Artisana
Here's more:

  • Fresh cut veggies and homemade ranch dressing. For netter nutrition, homemade or store-bought hummus will add protein and fiber and make your snack stick with you longer.
  • Roll-ups: sliced meat, cheese, pickle spear and spicy brown or Dijon mustard
  • Organic cheese and gluten free crackers. I like Schar and Crunchmaster brands. Rice crackers are good too.
  • Gluten free cereal. I like Chex or Envirokids brands. Milk, or almond/coconut milk with blueberries or freeze dried strawberries. Nom Nom.
  • Hard-boiled eggs are one of nature's best protein-filled snacks! I grab one of these on my way to work along with a Kind bar and coffee.
  • Sliced fruit - I like a mixture of blueberries, strawberries and kiwi fruit. Try a grapefruit, orange, and strawberry salad with chopped mint. Very refreshing.
  • Tortilla chips - I like the  Food Should Taste Good brand in jalapeno or sweet potato flavors.  No artificial flavors or MSG/yeasts.  Try some hummus with these. 
  • Kozy Shack sugar free tapioca or chocolate pudding if you can have dairy.  They use inulin which is a natural root fructose sugar. Maybe add in some raspberries, blueberries or strawberries?
  • Cookies - I like Trader Joes gluten free gingersnaps. I've recently discovered the Gluten Free Goddess cookies sold in the areas of Venice and Santa Monica. She is an amazing baker and her blog is great, too. I think you can order her baked goods on her website if you aren't local. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. 
  •  Tea of coffee.  Sometimes you're not really hungry and just need something to sip on while reading a book or watching the boob tube. I like Yogi Tea organic ginger tea. It soothes an upset tummy, too. 
Okay, all this food talk is making me hungry!  Off to make some almond meal raspberry peach muffins! I'm looking forward to spreading a little butter on top of a warm, straight from the oven treat.

Go make yourself a snack!

Gluten Free Chickadee

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Coconut Curry Soup with Sweet Potato

I love Thai food. Sweet, spicy, tangy - there are so many flavors in one bite.  I especially love coconut milk. Coconut is known for having the good kinds of saturated fats that promote heart health, boosting your immune system, and increased metabolism. The lauric acid in coconuts has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, too. Coconut milk is so versatile, and since I can't eat dairy right now, I use it in a lot of ways I would milk - baking, smoothies, and coffee (SoDelicious makes a good coconut ice cream, too.) And since I'm not eating much sugar, either, I find its subtle sweetness satisfies my sweet tooth.

One of my favorite recipes right now is Thai coconut curry soup. Now that fall is on its way, this will be one of the comfort foods I plan to make when I can snuggle up on my couch with a good book, enjoy a bowl, and warm my bones.

Tip: Use full fat coconut milk, as low fat doesn't give enough flavor in my opinion.  Fats are an essential part of our diet.  The low-fat fad is over, didn't you know?

2 T olive oil or coconut oil
2 medium chicken breasts, cubed
2 cups organic free range chicken broth
1 can full fat coconut milk
half yellow onion, diced
julienned red bell pepper
4-6 T fish sauce
1 T freshly grated ginger root
1 clove minced garlic
1 small minced Thai chili
1 tablespoon curry powder (I use McCormick but you could use a yellow curry paste)
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed (red potatoes will do as well)
dash turmeric
juice of 2 limes
chopped cilantro for garnish

In a large pot on medium heat, add oil.  When hot, add in onion and bell pepper and cook until it starts to become tender, just a few minutes. Add garlic, Thai chili, ginger and chicken, and cook for a few more minutes to start incorporating the flavors. Lower heat to medium-low and add coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, and remaining ingredients, except lime juice and cilantro. Cook at medium-low, let simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are somewhat tender but not fall apart. When almost ready, add juice of limes to taste.  You may want to add more or less - I find I like a lot of lime juice to give it that tanginess.  And if you can have sugar, you may want to add in a bit of brown sugar, but I find it's delicious without it.

I might also add in a bit of cayenne if the Thai chilies don't give it enough kick, or if I don't have them on hand. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

If you are like me you will have 2 or more bowls and go into a food coma.

You'll have to forgive me for the stock photo, but the pictures I took were accidentally erased from my hard drive, and I couldn't let a good recipe go to waste just because of this!