Tuesday
Aug162011

"Whole Grain" Gluten-Free Tortillas

 Yesterday I just wanted an honest to goodness white flour tortilla. Was that so much to ask? These were a pretty decent gluten-free substitute. Anyone care to test drive this recipe and critique?

“Eat what you shoot” takes on a whole new meaning to a food blogger. When you’ve come up with what looks like a winning recipe, the last thing you—or those pounding fists at the table—want to do is ……….WAIT. Wait for the food arranging, the propping, the lighting adjustments, the “snap.”

So it was with these tortillas.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug122011

Making the Switch: Angie's Story

This week it is my pleasure to introduce Angie. Angie is a 35 year-old Provo, Utah wife and mother of three girls. When Angie wrote and expressed interest in being featured on Making the Switch, I knew it was meant to be. That very week I needed to hear her story for two reasons. Two days prior, my mom had been told by her doctor that she was pre-diabetic! WHAT?! She is the picture of perfect health! And then earlier this year my 64 year-old father checked himself into the ER (for what he thought was bronchitis) and checked out three days later with a stent and a piece of paper in hand with the diagnoses of: 1) Congestive Heart Failure, 2) Coronary Artery Disease, Hypertension and 4) Type II Diabetes. No one, including himself, knew how sick he was. Following his discharge this is what he wrote to family and friends. "The prognosis for congestive heart failure is from 1 to 8 years. Since we caught this thing quite early, I believe that I have a few more years to relax, get things sold off ...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug092011

Gluten-Free Almond Pulp Crackers & Winners


For those who make almond milk, the base of these crackers is the leftover pulp—basically fiber—that is strained out. Almond pulp resembles coconut flour in that it is essentially de-fatted nut meal/nut meat. Don't have almond pulp on hand? No worries. Use almond meal/flour in it's place. The brands I like are; Bob's Red Mill and Honeyville. It's also super easy to make using raw or blanched almonds, here's how.

So, I've sat on this recipe for over a year. When my late father was out visiting last Summer he went nuts over these dehydrator crackers.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug082011

Williams-Sonoma Guest Post


Visit Williams-Sonoma for today's Lexie's Kitchen post.

Today's post can be found over at the Williams-Sonoma blog, The Blender. The Blender is a very well-written blog with a wonderful variety of quality content and multiple posts a day! Yep, I'm addicted.

So, needless to say, I was floored when Olivia Ware approached me about doing a guest post offering up tips and a recipe for the gluten and dairy-free among us.

I'd love it if you'd head on over there to check out the breakfast yogurt parfaits made with Easy Gluten-Free Granola and my latest recipe for dairy-free Almond Milk Yogurt.

 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug052011

Making the Switch: Lisa's Story

This is the second post in the Lexie’s Kitchen series Making the Switch.

This series, spotlights women and men who are making the switch in the way they shop for, cook for and nourish themselves and their loved ones. These are everyday people openly sharing their struggles and victories in their journey to better health and well-being simply by changing the way that they eat. Each has a story—a reason for their switch from processed to pure foods.

For some, it has been gradual. For others it was a complete about-face. As each shares their story, you will learn what motivated them and how making the switch has changed their lives.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug032011

And Along Came the OmniBlend

To say that I have been waiting for this day is an understatement.

I have yearned for this day.

It recently came to my attention that a new contender had entered the high-powered blender arena (well I must be living under a rock because it's been on the market for two years) and I am here to tell you a little about it.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul262011

Making the Switch: Cheryl's Story

 

This is the premier post in the Lexie’s Kitchen series Making the Switch.

This series, spotlights women and men who are making the switch in the way they shop for, cook for and feed themselves and their loved ones. These are everyday people openly sharing their struggles and victories in their journey to better health and well-being simply by changing the way that they eat. Each has a story—a reason for their switch from processed to pure foods.

For some, it has been gradual. For others it was a complete about-face. As each shares their story, you will learn what motivated them and how making the switch has changed their lives.

Putting the modified diet focus of this blog aside, Making the Switch is open to all. The point of it being to bring personal stories to light that encourage America to get back into the kitchen to cook real food. As Jamie Oliver puts it, “make only a few small changes and magical things will happen.” Whether it’s weight loss, improvements in a child's behavior or the regaining of health, magical things will happen.

It is my utmost pleasure to introduce to you, Cheryl. Cheryl is a young wife, mother and former U.S. Marine. She and her family live in Casper, Wyoming. Cheryl's enthusiasm for her new-found love of cooking is infectious as is her passion for encouraging others to make the switch.

_________________________________________________________________________

My name is Cheryl. I grew up in a home that ate a lot of prepackaged food—think Hamburger Helper and Little Debbie snack cakes. Vegetables were corn and potatoes. No, I haven’t always eaten healthy but for the benefit of my health and that of my family, we’ve made the switch. Here is a little of my story and proof that you can do it, too. You just have to choose it.

Make a Shopping List. Stick to It.

One of the first things you should know about me is that years back I became a little obsessed with grocery shopping. I have a bit of an impulsive streak when I enter a store. I always seem to find something I have to take home much the same way hogs sniff out truffles deep in the earth. Back in 2009 I took a “Language and Society” course that discussed the ways stores market products. I finally understood why I couldn’t control myself. These companies do so much research to get your business that it affects where they place the healthier fare—oh so inconveniently in the back! To find it, you must pass the wafting odors of the bakery, aisles of preservative-laden packaged foods and end caps of “sale” items.

Learn to Cook. Make it Your Hobby.

My husband and I have been married for five years. For the first sixteen months we were mostly apart. We served back-to-back deployments—me in Iraq and he in Japan. When I returned stateside, and with him Japan, I found myself with tons of extra time. That’s when I took up cooking. The Food Network was my teacher. I learned to sauté, julienne and simmer. I astonished my friends with the meals I made. What I learned is that anyone can cook with a little practice and a good recipe in hand. Make it your hobby.

Scan a Recipe's Ingredients List First.

One problem I have is finding a recipe I adore, only to tally up the calories after the fact and find that the meal easily exceeded 800 calories per serving. Yikes! Like many women who’ve had children, my body just doesn’t allow me to consume as many calories as I used to and I don’t want to be pining for years for my body to be a comparable substitute of its former self. Now, when I find a recipe, I will look at the ingredient lists first to see if it might be remotely healthy and then I tally up the calories (I use a pocket-sized calorie counter book and online calorie counters). I also use food websites that provide nutritional information.

Save Money. Buy Fresh.

Prepackaged meals can be expensive—averaging $2 to $6 for a single serving, excluding sides. And so many are laden with calories, sodium, fat and preservatives. Do we really need to be eating food that can sit on a shelf for six months plus? I don’t think so. On the occasion I buy prepackaged snacks, I choose those free of preservatives. I think the best advice I can give to anyone trying to save money is to buy fresh, unprepared food. Most of my grocery purchases are fruits and vegetables that must be washed and chopped, raw meat, poultry, eggs and milk (in opaque containers—it tends to stay fresher longer). In all honesty, I can't afford to buy everything organic so I try to make the most of it by purchasing the "dirty dozen" (produce with the highest levels of pesticides) organic when possible and organic milk. When the budget allows, I will buy organic meat.

Keep a Food Journal.

The biggest challenge for me in eating healthy is not knowing when my husband will home so that we can eat as a family. He is a Marine Corps recruiter operating out of two offices and has the largest recruiting area in the continental United States. There are days we think he’ll be home by seven and he walks through the door at nine. Often I eat alone. I’ve found that keeping a food journal helps me steer clear of unhealthy snacks and extras. This journal also helps me track the progress I’ve made in establishing healthier eating habits.

Encourage Others.

To this day my family struggles in making healthy eating decisions. I was home for a visit in February and the pantry was still stocked with junk like Pop-Tarts, pudding snacks and chips. My dad and step mom have three teenagers living at home. With different work, school and extracurricular activities schedules, it’s not often that they find time to eat as a family. This dilemma is one my daughter and I will face as we return home to stay with my dad while I complete an internship with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (N.C.I.S.). I hope that while we’re there I can encourage them to embrace new eating habits and start eating as a family again.

Prepare Ahead and Freeze Meals.

While I’m away, my husband will be going solo. I know that on the days he works late he won’t feel like cooking so I’ve spent this summer freezing leftovers and meals that he can easily reheat. This weekend I went through our chest freezer to see how many meals I’d accumulated for him. He has forty dinners and over the next few weeks I’ll add a couple more. I’ll feel good knowing that he’s eating the likes of Thai Macaroni and Cheese, Turkey Pot Rice Pie, Kale Butternut Squash Soup, Lemon Chicken and Chickpeas and Ratatouille.

A Peek at This Week's Grocery Purchases

I am including a photo of this week’s grocery purchases. I received my Bountiful Baskets organic basket and four kilos of mangos. I purchased two half gallons of organic whole milk. The basket and the milk totaled $39.94. The only other items I'll need to purchase this week are meat and poultry and if I use my numbers from last week, I can get one pound of organic ground beef and 12 ounces of organic ground chicken for $17.44—so my weekly total will be around $58.00. If I do any more meat this week, I have one pound of ground turkey and two pounds of turkey sausage links in the freezer so I don't have to buy anything else. Got a bunch of free oranges this week from a girlfriend, bonus!

In April of 2010 I had my first child, and like many moms, struggled to lose the baby weight. Over the past 18 months I have managed to lose all 53 pounds and regain my energy simply by choosing healthier foods. By reading labels and counting calories, I’ve learned that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread, a snack cake, chips and a Capri Sun is not the healthiest lunch! I've known for many years that eating all that junk was doing me no good. I want to lead by example and hope that my daughter will see and feel the benefits of eating fresh, wholesome food. I know she is watching me and that a few others are, too. I hope they make the choice to make the switch.

_________________________________________________________________________

If you would like to be a featured in Making the Switch, click here and drop me a line.

I would like to thank Jamie and the Food Revolution “cast” for inspiring this series.

Tuesday
Jul192011

Rosemary Chimichurri Sauce & Giveaway

This recipe comes from my mom and dad. They love intense flavors and this chimichurri sauce heartily embraces those of rosemary and garlic—both known for their powerful medicinal properties.

I envy those in frost-free climate zones where rosemary thrives and grows like a weed. Earlier this year we were in Las Vegas for an extended stay and realized I didn't need to get my rosemary in the store, I could snag a sprig of it outside in the parking lot (naughty, I know). I just love edible landscaping!

Chimichurri is a pesto-like, garlicky green sauce from Argentina that's fantastic served over grilled beef. Mom suggests taking it further and using it as you would pesto—drizzling it over pasta, pizza, potatoes, toast, anything! I love it as a dipping sauce—drizzle on a plate with olive oil and balsamic vinegar—accompanied by a loaf of Gluten Free Pantry French Bread (Ingredients: White Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Granulated Honey, Salt, Yeast and calls for eggs).

 

Rosemary Chimichurri Sauce

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan | Raw

Makes: About 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups loosely packed fresh PARSLEY, stems removed
1 cup loosely packed fresh ROSEMARY, stripped off stems
5 cloves GARLIC, minced (mom said to use 1/3 cup! Go for it if you—and your partner—love garlic)
2 tablespoons LEMON JUICE
1/2 cup OLIVE OIL
SEA SALT to taste

Directions:

In food processor, pulse parsley, rosemary and garlic to fine chop. With motor running, drizzle in lemon juice and olive oil. Salt to taste. Add water to thin, if desired.

Cookbook Giveaway

This week I am giving away Carol Fenster's latest cookbook 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes. Carol blogs at Carol Fenster Cooks.

To Enter: Leave a comment. For an additional entry, tell a friend about the Lexie's Kitchen website and tell me you did so. That's it!

Deadline: To qualify, leave your comments by 5:00 p.m. (CST) Wednesday, July 27, 2011.

 

 

Friday
Jul152011

Gluten-Free Dining in Cheyenne

In Cheyenne, Wyoming you can get up close—and hopefully not personal—with these beautiful creatures at the Terry Bison Ranch. In less than a week thousands upon thousands will descend upon Cheyenne, Wyoming for the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days. It's an event we pack up the car and head out for. For a town that shuts down at 8:00 pm, this is quite the event. It is the largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration in the world and attracts some of the hottest tickets in country music as well as the wildly popular (at least with me) U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

They say Cheyenne doubles in size during this event, and I believe it. The quiet downtown streets fill bumper-to-bumper with Ford duallys. Authentic (and some not so) cowboys and cowgals sashay along the sidewalks ducking into air conditioned bars and restaurants to beat the mid-July Wyoming heat (why they just don't wear flip-flops beats me).

All around, it's a big ole party ... and where there's a party you've got to have good grub.

PROVISION UP!

Here are the grocery stores I shop at. If you are military and can get on base at F.E. Warren, the commissary has some good deals on gluten-free fare.

Natural Grocers
5116 Frontier Mall Drive
(307) 635-3800
Website

This is where I do the bulk of my grocery shopping. I know this store like the back of my hand. Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is a chain of whole food and supplement stores. This is where you need to go to get your kombucha, kefir, coconut water and organic coffee. Pop in and buy all you need for a gluten-free picnic; Rudi's bread, Applegate sandwich meat, apples, Lara bars, you name it.

King Soopers
3702 Dell Range Boulevard (north side)
(307) 638-0014
Website

For some time now, King Soopers (part of the Kroger chain) has impressed me with their gluten-free offering. All gluten-free products carry shelf labels. The organic produce offering is pretty good as well.

Golden Dragon International Groceries
1605 Seymour Ave
(just east of downtown on Lincolnway)
(307) 634-1686

I love this place. It is such a hole in the wall, but has everything I need in the way of Asian groceries. It's fun just to pop in and poke around. I still can't believe Cheyenne can support this store. Guess there are more people here than I realize who like their rice sticks and squid!

 

QUICK DINING

Ruby Juice
113 E 17th Street (downtown)
(307) 634-3022
Website

Salads, soups, smoothies and gluten-FULL wraps. Clean, cheerful shop.

Mr. Hibatchi
1431 Stillwater Ave (north side, off Dell Range)
(307) 638-8899

Update: This restaurant is under new management. It's a decent place however there is no dedicated GF menu. A lot of their sushi no includes deep-fried ingredients. Just be forewarned. This has been such a pleasant find. For $7.95 you can enjoy the all you can eat lunch buffet. The buffet includes fried chinese food, but the OTHER half is all sushi! I make a meal out of the sushi alone. This may not be the best spot if you need to guarantee no cross contamination.

Chipotle
1400 Dell Range (north side)
(307) 632-6200
Website  |  Order Online

We go to Chipotle a lot. They are very accommodating and it is one of the cleanest restaurants in Cheyenne. Mention that you are gluten-free and they switch their gloves. It's popular with the military in town and can get quite crowded.

Rudolfo's Mexican Grill
801 East Lincolnway (just east of downtown)
 
(307) 632-1231

Don't be intimidated by the look of the place—a very old and outdated former Kentucky Fried Chicken, I think. This is the most authentic fast food Mexican you will find for 100 miles around. You know it's authentic when they have one of those pickled condiment stations. Anyway, the guys that work there are great. It's open 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. My favorite are the chicken tacos. I'm not too keen on the steak. Very affordable, very good. Dine in or drive thru. PLEASE ask if there is wheat/gluten in the corn tortillas. My son seems to have issues with them. Corn tortillas can sometimes be made with gluten. I wonder if these are?

 

FINER DINING

Re-O-Na Sushi & Thai
112 W 17th Street (downtown)  
307-638-8820

This restaurant JUST opened and it looks promising! We have not eaten here yet, but ducked in and were impressed with the decor, friendliness and cleanliness. Two parties on their way out said it was fantastic and that the curries are great and portion sizes hefty.

Morris House Bistro
2114 Warren Avenue (downtown)

307-369-1378
Website   Menu

One of Cheyenne's few fine dining experiences. Featuring "low country" Southern cuisine, The Morris House Bistro opened it's doors a month ago. It is located in the historic Esther Morris House. Esther Morris is commonly regarded as one of the heroines of the women’s suffrage movement.

The bistro is open Thursday through Saturday. The outdoor patio is open at 5pm, weather permitting. Seating for the patio is first come, first served. The dining room opens at 5:30, reservations are recommended—in fact I would make them now. If you have special dietary needs, call in advance and they will do their best to accommodate you.

The Capitol Grille
1600 Central Avenue (downtown, inside The Historic Plains Hotel)
(307) 638-3311
Website

This weekend my husband and I awarded The Capitol Grille with "The Best Burger in Town" award. I order mine with no bun, jalapenos, mushrooms and extra lettuce. Fries are not cooked in a dedicated fryer so substituting them with steamed veggies is a safer bet. Burgers are $7.95 and come with two toppings of your choice. Bison burgers are a couple dollars more.

Outback Steakhouse
1626 Fleischli Business Parkway (west of downtown)
(307) 638-8171
Website

We can't wait for Outback to offer an organic, grass-fed steak. Yeah, I know, that'll be the day. Nevertheless, we are always impressed with Outback's attentiveness to our needs. They have a gluten-free menu with quite a few offerings. Our usual is the 6-ounce steak with a naked sweet potato and green beans for $9.99. They are one of the busiest restaurants in town. I'm guessing during Frontier Days they are insanely busy. You can call ahead to be put on the waiting list, but they do not take reservations.

Olive Garden
1535 Dell Range Blvd (north of downtown, Frontier Mall)
(307) 632-2411
Website

We don't go to Olive Garden all that much. For me the breadsticks are just too tempting : ) If you possess more self-control than I do, it's a safe bet. They, too have a dedicated gluten-free menu. Another popular place in Cheyenne, so try to beat the crowd.

 

DOWNTOWN FAVORITES

Lastly, I thought I would mention some of our favorite things to see and do in Cheyenne for when you need a break from the crowds or the heat.

The Wyoming State Museum has some interesting exhibits and is a manageable size. The kiddie area is great! Keeps my kids entertained for at least an hour.

City News and Pipe Shop sells books and every magazine you'd ever want. They have a small coffee/sandwich bar and sitting area.

Prairie Pantry is the best (and only) cooking store in town. They've got it all. On Lincolnway.

Bohemian Metals is one of my son's favorite shops. If you collect rocks, fossils or turquoise rings, this spot's worth a visit. 314 W 17th Street.

Bloom Salon & Spa is a great place for a little pick-me-up (massage) or up-do : ) Next door to Bohemian Metals on 17th Street.

Terry Bison Ranch. This attraction is south of town five or so miles. We've enjoyed the "train" ride out to see the bison. I didn't know this but the burger the restaurant at the ranch serves up was voted "Best Burger in Wyoming by Bobby Flay and the Food Network." So there you have it!

Monday
Jul112011

Hold the Cheese! Jalapeno Poppers | Dairy-Free

In support of my son and the diet he follows (GFCF), I gave up dairy. Well, sort of. I can endure the temptation of Noosa's Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt (barely!) and the call of Alden's Mint Chip Ice Cream (I plug my ears). Oddly, it's a platter of grilled Jalapeno Poppers that brings me to my knees.

I don't know what it is about grilled poppers. I find them utterly addicting and would like to kiss the man —and I'm convinced that it was a man—who first grilled up a batch of these green boats of bacon and cheesy goodness.

Over the 4th of July, I was making poppers with the usual cream cheese, bacon bits and shredded cheese (for the company, of course!). With a few jalapenos leftover I thought I'd do a little experiment.

I crisped up some minced pancetta (to step it up a knotch from the usual bacon) and mixed it into some dairy-free, Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce. The result was quite tasty! I had my poppers, sans the cheese, and was completely satisfied.

Dairy-Free Jalapeno Poppers

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Easily Vegetarian

Makes: 12-16 poppers
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Soak Time:  2-4 hours
Grill Time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

6-8 JALAPENO PEPPERS
1/2 cup RAW NACHO CHEESE SAUCE (see notes)
2-3 tablespoons crispy fried PANCETTA or BACON BITS
2-3 tablespoons thinly sliced GREEN ONION (optional)

Directions:

Slice jalapenos lengthwise and deseed using a small spoon. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Fill each pepper half with "cheese" mixture.

Grill on low 10-15 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese is heated through. Allow to rest 3-5 minutes before serving.

Notes:

To balance the saltiness of the pancetta, cut back the measure of salt from 1 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon when making the Nacho Cheese Sauce.

Try to keep the cheese mixture thick by adding as little water as needed to achieve a smooth dip consistency. If you've made it on the thinner side, you can add a tablespoon or two of tapioca flour to the cheese mixture to thicken it up.

On Lexie's List to Try: Grilled Appetizers

Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms on Rosemary Skewers over at Martha Stewart

Beef and Asparagus Negmaki over at Martha Stewart (using honey and gluten-free soy sauce)

Tuesday
Jul052011

Diving to the Depths in Search of Healing 

Admittedly and apologetically, I've been lax in posting an update on our son—the sweet inspiration for this blog. If you frequent Lexie's Kitchen, you may be familiar with his story. If you're new to it, you can visit the Hello page for a little background.

So, here goes.

Close to the Heart

It's odd. As much as I want to reach out and share the latest on our son, I find myself harboring it all within. I toss out tidbits to satisfy curiosity, but for the most part, I keep it close to my heart.

Is it because it's hard to explain?

Is it because the health and well-being of my children means everything to me?

Is it because I am admitting that my child isn't "typical?"

Is it because I just don't want to have to deal with people thinking I'm nuts?

Um, yep. Check all of the above.

Is this healthy? Probably not. Is this how I cope? I guess so.

Some Hard Years

Three summers ago, my husband and I first took note of our son's weak head control, his drifting eyes and those abnormally messy diapers. The years since have been the hardest of my life. I've cried buckets. I've been angry. I've felt helpless. The emotions have run the gamut. 

These days, or at least today, I feel braver, stronger and thankful. I feel strong enough to share what I have guarded closely and thankful that the journey has instilled in our family a new depth of compassion, it has opened our minds and has changed our lives for the better. We are doing what is within our power to heal our little man and are leaving the rest to God.

As I write this post, I am sitting in the boys' room perched next to a rented portable Vitaeris Hyperbaric Chamber (HBOT). This is the latest therapy we are trying. A compressor hums away, keeping the chamber inflated at a steady 4.2 PSI. My husband and son are inside. Our son is hooked up to a nasal canula that is delivering a flow of oxygen.

We are renting this unit for $350 a week and will have it in our home for 10 weeks. We are aiming to complete 100 treatments—or "dives." Each dive lasting one hour, plus the time spent "diving down" and the time "coming back up."

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a painless procedure in which a person is exposed to increased pressure, thus allowing greater absorption of oxygen by body tissues and plasma. The increased pressure allows more oxygen to reach the cells within the body. The concept of Hyperbaric oxygenation has been around since the late 1600's but has only gained recognition in conventional medicine over the past 40 years. For a comprehensive overview, visit Genox, Inc.

Twelve treatments down and I am impressed with how cooperative little man is. The i-Pod, DVD player and books get us through each session.

While not new, HBOT is a recognized treatment for chronic degenerative health problems related to atherosclerosis, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, diabetic ulcers, wound healing, cerebral palsy, brain injury, multiple sclerosis and macular degeneration. Recently it has been entertained as a therapy for autism and mitochondrial dysfunction (MtD). Essentially, wherever blood flow and oxygen delivery to vital organs is reduced, function and healing can potentially be aided with HBOT.

Mitchondrial Dysfunction and Its Link to Autism

Before diving into why we have chosen HBOT as a therapy, let's talk a little about a very real link between autism and this thing called mitochondrial dysfunction.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children falls on the autistic spectrum. Hats off to the activists, doctors and researchers seeking answers to the mystery.

One thing that is becoming evident is that autism is not a brain-generated disorder, but as Dr. Martha Herbert and others believe, autism is a whole body disorder. Furthermore, in the following video, my friend and Certified Nutrition Consultant, Julie Matthews, makes the point that there is likely no one cause nor one cure for autism because it is so complex. She goes on to say that there seem to be varieties of “autisms,” because not everybody has the same history or the same systems that are affected.

Our son exhibits some of the physiological symptoms we see on the spectrum but has never been diagnosed as being autistic. So if it isn't autism, if it isn't a syndrome, what is it? This very question has haunted me for three years. 

Thankfully, with the help of Dr. Steven Rondeau of Wholeness Wellness Center in Ft. Collins, Colorado, we are piecing together the puzzle. Looking at our son's various diagnoses and tendencies in a holisitic manner, we see the signs of mitochondrial dysfunction (MtD). And THAT is what he does have in common with a certain percentage of autistic children.

To understand mitochondrial dysfunction, articles such as this one in Science Daily and this one by Alyssa Davi and this one by Dr. Mark Hyman are helpful. In a nutshell it has to do with energy production at the cellular level. Due to damage or stress, the mitochondria—the powerhouse of the cell—are not functioning optimally. 

Mitochondria exist in nearly every cell of the human body, producing 90 percent of the energy the body needs to function. In a person with mitochondrial disease, the mitochondria are failing and cannot convert food and oxygen into life-sustaining energy. The parts of the body that need the most energy, such as the heart, brain, muscles, [GI system] and lungs are the most affected by mitochondrial disease. The affected individual may have strokes, seizures, gastro-intestinal problems (reflux, severe vomiting, constipation, diarrhea), swallowing difficulties, failure to thrive, blindness, deafness, heart and kidney problems, [poor muscle tone], muscle failure, heat/cold intolerance, diabetes, lactic acidosis, immune system problems and liver disease. An undiagnosed child may exhibit feeding problems, be unable to fight typical childhood infections or have repeated infections and fevers without a known  origin. A red flag for mitochondrial disease occurs when a child has more than 3 organ systems with problems or when a “typical” disease exhibits atypical qualities.  - The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

Dr. Dan Rossignol, a respected family practitioner in the field and parent to two autistic children, takes the definition of MtD one step further by explaining the difference between primary and secondary MtD. In this "Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Autism" presentation (it is a must watch!) Dr. Rossignol identifies Primary Mitochondrial Disease as typically referring to genetic defects leading to mitochondria dysfunction and Secondary Mitochondrial Disease (dysfunction) as referring to impaired functioning of mitochondria. Miles appears to be affected by the latter.

So what were the pieces of the puzzle that pointed us in the direction of mitochondrial dysfunction? Here are the diagnoses our son has been served over the past three years and observations that have been made:

DIAGNOSES

  • Hypotonia – Low tone. This contributed to some aspiration when he was younger. He walked at 20 months, began to run at 3 years and at 3-1/2 took his first two-inch jump off the floor.
  • GERD - At 16 months, went on Prevacid for two months until I said "no more" and explored possible food allergies. Again, GERD is just a symptom of a deeper rooted issue.
  • Delayed Myelination in one region of his brain. Myelination, basically, is the insulation around the nerves in the brain. And like a wire that has been stripped of insulation, messages get distorted and sparks fly.
  • Gross/Speech/Fine Motor Delays – We continue speech, occupational and physical therapies. He is speaking in three-word sentences, his hands are still a little shaky, he can jump a distance of 5 inches. Cognitively he is "intact."
  • Exotropia in both eyes (lazy eyes). Surgically corrected at 16 months by the phenomenal Dr. Robert A. King of Denver, Colorado.
  • Chronic Sinus Infection – This was our second clue that food allergies (dairy formula) had come into play.
  • Noisy Breathing - From very early on, I sensed something was not right with his nasal passages. You could nearly always hear the flow of air through his nose. It's hard to explain. Was it the structure of his sinus pathways or chronic inflammation? Sometimes it could be heard across the room (as with our first visit to see Dr. Rondeau) and at other times it was something you could hear only if you were right next to him. I've heard many an overweight person sound like him. 
  • Allergies – Wheat, dairy, egg, dog. We are completely gluten- and casein-free.
  • Chronic Diarrhea – The medical term I was given by our original pediatrician was "toddlers diarrhea." He suffered with this from 14-32 months. It was putrid, yellow, sometimes green, undigested food, fruity and sulphuric! Just awful. Today, it is under control but certain foods and sugars set his gut off. Believe it or not, one of these diapers was the straw that broke the camel's back. After months and months of these diapers, and with tears falling from my eyes, I resolved to seeking help elsewhere. Should you seek help elsewhere? Well, if your child's pediatrician recommends the B.R.A.T. (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet for his/her chronic (not acute) diarrhea, it's time.
  • Yeast Overgrowth – Also known as candida albicans. Treated with diet and, so far, one round of anti-fungal medication. We will retest in a couple of months to see where we stand.
  • Chromosomal Abnormality – 1p34.1—duplication of "34" on the short arm of the 1st chromosome. My husband tested positive for it as well. Is it clinically significant? We do not know.
  • Low Iron
  • Lack of Reflexes
  • Elevated Toxin Levels – Porphyrin testing showed elevated levels of lead, mercury, pesticides and PCBs.
  • Asthma – Always viral induced. Currently, the only medication he takes is Singulair. We will go through one more winter on it and then attempt to back off of it. Should he come down with a respiratory infection and begin wheezing or his oxygen saturation drop, we administer Albuterol as needed. A breathing child is a good thing and two hospitalizations were enough!
  • Lower Oxygen Saturation – This has improved, but up until a year ago his daily average was 90-91 and would drop lower in his sleep. Today he's at 96-97. (oh and by the way, this is a very handy gadget to have on hand to monitor the asthmatics in your home).

OBSERVATIONS

  • Energy – His energy level is definitely improving. A year ago he would tire after 15 minutes of motor room time. Not the norm for a 3 year old.
  • Spaciness – He still has his moments (I used to think they were silent seizures, but I could always snap him out of them), but since removing gluten and casein the space-out moments are fewer and farther between.
  • Balance - He is clumsy, he trips a lot and just plain loses his balance.
  • Body Temperature Regulation - When it's hot, he gets really hot and when it's cold, he gets really cold. This is a common symptom of mitochondrial dysfunction.
  • GI - We have seen great improvements in intestinal health. Recent urine tests showed that he still had some yeast overgrowth. We'll see if HBOT and diet work together to help clear this up.
  • Speech - We are into week two of HBOT and Dr. Rondeau has asked us to watch for improvements in speech and "spontaneous conversation." I think we are definitely seeing more four, and even five, word sentences. His enunciation is lacking and only those close to him can understand him, but he is communicating! I am excited to see what week three, four and five bring.
  • Awareness - Dr. Rondeau put it perfectly. Our happy-go-lucky little guy can be "blissfully unaware" at times. La-di-da! He'll mosey down the aisles of the grocery store, not look where he's going and run into people, taaaaake his time, you get the picture.
  • Potty Training - Oh, now wouldn't that be the icing on the cake! : )

Big brother looks on.Could HBOT Be Our Answer?

When we first started reading up on mitochondrial dysfunction, everything seemed to click—it sounded like our guy. And then, a week later, when Dr. Rondeau confirmed the same suspicion with blood and urine tests we knew he was our man. Since seeing him for the first time in March 2011, we have addressed diet by going back on the Yeast-Free Diet (Anti-Candida Diet) and are administering a customized supplement "cocktail" consisting of: 

Probiotics
Essential Fatty Acids
Acetyl L-Carnitine
CoQ10; Includes Vitamin E, B3, B6, B12, B5
Digestive Enzymes
Vitamin C
Vitamin E

Note: Always consult your doctor for a customized supplement routine to suit your specific needs. What may be right for my child may not be right for your child.

And now we've come full-circle back to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. With diet and supplementation in order, Dr. Rondeau strongly encouraged the trial of HBOT with our son. Though extensive research on the effectiveness of HBOT to treat MtD and autism are forthcoming, my husband and I felt strongly about pursuing this path. In an abstract by Dr. Rossignol, HBOT has shown promise in the following areas as related to mitochondrial dysfunction:

Behaviors & Tendencies: May help improve repetitive, self-stimulatory and stereotypical "austistic" behaviors in certain individuals on the autism spectrum as well as improve impairments in communication, sensory perception and social interactions.
Detoxification: Upregulates enzymes that can help with detoxification problems specifically found in autistic children.
Dysbiosis: May improve dysbiosis which is common in autistic children.
Oxygenation of Blood and Tissue: Can compensate for decreased blood flow by increasing the oxygen content of plasma and body tissues when cerebral hypoperfusion conditions are present.
Immune Function: Has been reported to possess strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to improve immune function.
Oxidative Stress: Reduction of oxidative stress through the upregulation of antioxidant enzymes.
Mitochondria Function and Production: May increase function and production of mitochondria and improve neurotransmitter abnormalities.
Porhyrin Production: Can aid in the impaired production of porhyrins in autistic children which might affect the production of heme.
Mobilization of Stem Cells: May aid in mobilization of stem cells from the bone marrow to the systemic circulation. Studies in humans have shown that stem cells can enter the brain and form new neurons, astrocytes and microglia.

Then there are the testimonials, the real life stories of healing like Casey's Part One and Part Two and this one that keep me encouraged:

Find Your Path

It is my hope that this blog and our story can help others find answers and healing. Perhaps our son sounds like your child? Whatever the case, take control, seek help. I really have enjoyed the following video, Why Current Thinking About Autism is Completely Wrong, by Dr. Mark Hyman. Dr. Hyman offers the same simplistic approach that Miles’ doctor is taking. And it all makes sense. If you're not sure how or where to start the healing process, watch this clip.

“Every child with behavior problems or autism is different. Each has to find their own
path with a trained doctor. But the gates are open and the wide road of healing is in
front of you. You simply have to take the first step.” –Dr. Mark Hyman

Hope is a Beautiful Thing

There is no doubt that we are hoping for a miracle with HBOT.

We may get one, we may not.

We've seen positive results with diet, supplementation and therapy (I will be eternally grateful to our son's therapists Erin, Heather, Lindsay, Janet, Tiffany and Sherri). Perhaps with HBOT we'll see even greater progress.

I take my job as mom very seriously and am committed to doing all I can for our little man. I feel he is at a stage of development where great things can happen. So far we are progressing and every part of my being hopes and prays that he will continue to do so. The unknown is never easy, but hope and complete faith in God's great plan, gets me through.

Now Let's Go For a Dive

On a fun note. We've been talking about diving and it just so happens that my sister is an avid diver—her livelihood revolves around it. Jill is a PADI Certified Dive Instructor on the Island of Lanai. As my kiddo and I "dive" down in our HBOT, we'll be living vicariously through aunty Jill. If you're ever on Lanai (or Maui) and want to scuba, call Trilogy, ask for Jill and tell them that Lexie sent you. Perhaps this final video will send you on your way to book a flight to paradise. Sounds good to me!

Thanks to each and every one who supports this blog. I appreciate you so much! Your kind words and thoughts mean the world to me.

xoLexie

 

UPDATE #1
July 9, 2011
After 20th Dive


We spent the day out and about and my husband and I kept commenting on how many words were coming out of our little man's mouth. At one point hubby said "are we sure we want him talking " : ) ha ha, but seriously, he would mimic everything that we would say, he'd comment on what he saw. I think this is working!

UPDATE #2
July 25, 2011
After 40th Dive

We have completed 40 dives in the HBOT—four weeks of treatment. Today he walked (and even jogged a some) the farthest he’s ever walked without tiring out (close to 1/2 mile). And yesterday we went on a picnic and he scrambled (mind you slowly and carefully) up and over some pretty big boulders. My husband and I have had many moments in the last couple weeks where we look at each other and raise our eyebrows and say “did you see that?” or “did you hear him say that?” We’ve asked ourselves, if it’s just natural progress or is it the oxygen therapy? Well, we’ve concluded that the therapy is doing something. The improvements in the number of words and syllables he can string together and smoother gross motor movements we’ve seen in four weeks time is more than a growth spurt or natural progress. My husband was talking with his mom (a teacher for many years) and she tends to agree. The other morning little champ came in and crawled into bed with me. We were “talking” and he said; “so cute” to which I replied “who?” and he said “you mom!” Talk about melt my heart … how awesome is that! His communicating his wants and needs in words has greatly improved in the last four weeks. The enunciation is definitely something he will need to work on, but if we take a sentence slowly, word-by-word, he can say most of the words clearly and concisely.

UPDATE #3
August 25, 2011
After 83rd Dive

The observations we have made since the last update include:

Bowel movements: Soft to formed. Every day or every other day. 

Energy: Great. Naps 3 times a week. Up at 7:30, to bed at 8:30.

Gross Motor: He has started to skip or gallop. A lot more steady on his feet. Is running faster and faster. Still flails arms a bit and has a very lean-forward gait, but the flailing is much less than it was even a month ago.

Fine Motor: He really likes playing games on the i-Touch and it really allows me to gauge the "shake" in his hands. It is very slight now ... not at all what it was 3 months ago. 

Speech: He is really trying to sing! Love it! Enunciation still lacks, so we will focus on that this year with preschool  therapy (starts Monday). Last week we sat down to play a game and he clearly said '"you be red, I be blue." Yesterday he counted houses as we drove to pick up big brother at school. He is telling knock kncok jokes: "knock knock" who's there, banana, banana who, banana peel!" We all laugh ... he thinks he's being so funny : ) The strides we've made in 10 weeks are hard to just take as "growth." I really really think that HBOT has played a part.

Illness: Last week we were held up a few days due to a cold/flu bit that the two boys and I got. He recovered the quickest ... now that's a first!! His brother is still blowing snot? Has his immune system gotten stronger? The coming months will be the test.

Potty Training: With the school year starting, I wake him in the morning and send him straight to the potty. He will relieve himself. I think that part of the problem here is laziness. Or just not making the immediate connection between the urge and the need to get to a bathroom. We will keep working ...

Monday
Jun272011

Cucumber Watermelon Salad

This easy and refreshing Cucumber Watermelon Salad could be the hit at your 4th of July potluck. Summer is in full swing on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. And, as summer heats up, so does my craving for all things barbecue. Last week we ducked into Moe's for some Southern soul food and a hefty protein fix.

Moe's Original Bar B Que is known for its Alabama-style pulled pork, racks of ribs, chicken (and on some days, tofu) smoked over hard wood, as well as their sauces, traditional Southern sides and down-home desserts. Though no where in print (on menus or the website), I have been told by the Fort Collins manager that their sauces are gluten-free as are some of the sides—but be safe, always ask. You can find Moe's in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina.

One of the sides offered the day we stopped in (they vary weekly) was a Cucumber Watermelon Salad. It sounded refreshing and certainly was. Of course I had to come home and recreate it. I loved it, my husband called it "unique" (what does that mean?) and my neighbor, Hannah, enjoyed it but would have preferred it a little less heavy on the red onion. It's all a matter of personal taste—just tweak accordingly.

I wish my fellow Americans a happy 4th of July! If you are looking for more recipes for summer potlucks and gatherings, be sure to visit The Spunky Coconut for Kelly's 4th of July Our Spunky Holiday recipe round up that will post later this week.

Cucumber Watermelon Salad

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Easily Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Serves:  4-6
Prep Time:  10 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons RICE WINE VINEGAR
1 tablespoon runny HONEY
3 CUCUMBERS, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1/2" cubes
3 cups 1/2" cubed WATERMELON
1/4 cup sliced fresh BASIL LEAVES (stack leaves, roll lengthwise and slice)
1/4 cup thinly sliced RED ONION
SALT
GREEN ONION (optional)

Directions:

On stovetop or in microwave, gently heat honey. Whisk in vinegar. Toss with remaining ingredients. Salt to taste and garnish with green onion.

A Few More for the Weekend

Teriyaki BBQ Chicken [click here]

Gluten-Free Hawaiian-Style Potato Mac Salad [click here]

Cinnamon Pomegranate Glaze (for steak) [click here]

 

Tuesday
Jun212011

Easy Gluten-Free Granola Recipe

Granola makes for a convenient and quick breakfast. Serve it with milk or atop a bowl of yogurt.Before diving into today's recipe, I need to bring your attention to a recent post over at Gluten Free Easily, Grieving Gluten: The Five Stages or Loss of Gluten Plus a New One. If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with celiac/gluten intolerance, a food allergy or any medical condition that requires substantial modifications to diet, I strongly urge you to read it. Shirley reassured me that the stages of loss I felt when we had to modify our son's diet were real, normal and—okay. And that had I not gone through each and every stage, I may have never made it to "embracement"—seeing the diagnosis as a blessing, being thankful for it and what it has done for our son's health, and the health and future of the entire family.

Early on, one thing I remember grieving was "convenience." The pre-packaged, gluten-free food on the shelves of the grocery store was insanely expensive and really—well, not all that healthy. And with my son's little body needing nourishment, I knew I had to do better than to replace the gluten and dairy he could not have with empty starches and gobs of sugar (which, unfortunately, are found in most processed gluten-free foods).

Frustrated, I set out to find recipes for make-ahead meals that would offer some of the convenience I grown accustomed to before our change in diet. I started making and freezing sausage patties, fermenting four quarts of yogurt at a time, preparing ready-to-blend smoothie kits and baking large batches of granola like the recipe I am sharing today. 

It gets easier, you find your groove. I promise!

Easy Gluten-Free Granola

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Makes: 6 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups raw WALNUTS
1-1/2 cups raw CASHEW NUTS
2 cups uncontaminated rolled OATS
1 cup QUINOA FLAKES
1/3 cup COCONUT NECTAR or honey (see Notes)
1/3 cup GRAPESEED OIL, light olive oil or liquified coconut oil
20 drops vanilla LIQUID STEVIA (or use 2 additional tablespoons coconut nectar)
1 tablespoon VANILLA EXTRACT
1 teaspoon CINNAMON
1/4 teaspoon SALT
1/8 teaspoon NUTMEG (freshly grated is best)
1 cup unsweetened dried and shredded COCONUT

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300˚F.

Chop nuts (I pulse them in a food processor to a coarse meal for ease of digestion) and transfer to a large bowl. Mix in oats and quinoa flakes. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk coconut nectar, oil, stevia, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour wet mixture over dry and combine well. Spread evenly in a parchment-lined jelly roll pan.

Bake 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, stir. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until crisp [check on it frequently as this granola has a tendency to get real toasty (aka burn), real quick]. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Stir in coconut and transfer to air-tight glass jar or container.

Notes:

Coconut Secret brand coconut nectar may be found out most natural grocers. Coconut nectar is lower glycemic (averaging 35). For more info, visit Coconut Secret.

As a precaution, some celiacs and gluten-intolerant among us do not tolerate oats. When purchasing oats, always buy certified gluten-free oats—oats that have not been cross contaminated with wheat on a production line.

For an easy nut-free option, consider a combination of sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. And for added Omega 3 and 6, mix in a couple of heaping tablespoons of hemp seed along with the coconut. Unsweetened dried cherries are another tasty mix-in.

Other Granola Recipes to Try

Nutty Nola here at Lexie's Kitchen (Raw)

Granola over at Elana's Pantry

Gluten Free Granola over at Our Gluten Free Family

Chai Granola over at The Spunky Coconut

Monday
Jun132011

Chinese Five Spice Rhubarb Chutney

The rhubarb in the yard of the abandoned house down the way is growing crazy fast. I find myself raiding the cache daily. With so much rhubarb, I am having to get creative, and busy, finding tasty eats and treats to make with it. Yesterday I set out to make Rhubarb Chutney. And a success it was.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from my late Tutu Bee who made the best mango chutney north of the equator, and from my sister whose plum chutney is close to divine. I have the greatest admiration for these women, their culinary skill and all they have taught me.

Chutney is a savory condiment, with origins in India. It's made of chopped fruit, vinegar, spices and sugar that is simmered down to a chunky spread. Traditionally it is served alongside curry dishes and meat. For me, there's not much I don't like it on. I serve it on crackers with a dollop of dairy-free Toffuti Better Than Cream Cheese or chevre. I use it as a spread on my turkey sandwiches. And I bet it would be an interesting accompaniment to a scoop of cinnamon ice cream (say what?! well you're getting a peek at how my brain works :)!

The addition of Chinese Five Spice gives this chutney a real twist. Traditionally, Chinese Five Spice is a sweet, warm, cool and spicy blend of fennel, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns. Used in the right way and with the right foods, it's magical.

I thought the making of chutney would be complicated—turns out, it's not. It's as easy as dumping a few ingredients into a saucepan and letting it simmer, baby, simmer. Enjoy!

Chinese Five Spice Rhubarb Chutney

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Makes: About 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time:  30-40 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup HONEY (I used Gluten-Free Easily's homestead honey ... thanks Ms. Shirley!)
1/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR
1/4 cup APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (or balsamic or a mixture of both)
1 CINNAMON stick
2 teaspoons minced fresh GINGER
1 teaspoon finely grated LEMON PEEL
1/2 teaspoon CHINESE FIVE SPICE
1/4 teaspoon SEA SALT
Dash CAYENNE PEPPER (optional)
3 cups 1" cubed RHUBARB
1/4 medium ONION, minced
1/4-1/2 cup dried, unsweetened CHERRIES (or raisins or currants)

Directions:

In medium pot, combine honey, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon stick, ginger, lemon peel, five spice, salt and cayenne. Bring to gentle simmer. Add remaining ingredients and cook down until thick and chunky—about 30-40 minutes over medium low heat, stirring frequently.

Store in a jar in refrigerator. Keeps for about a week. Chutney may be preserved as you would any jam or jelly.

Notes:

Using all coconut sugar or all honey works just as well. The coconut sugar adds a richer color as does using part balsamic vinegar.

Got rhubarb? Lots of it? Chop stalks into cubes (not the leaves, they are toxic), toss into a pot with a splash of water, simmer down 10-15 minutes (or until soft). Scoop rhubarb into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop the cubes out and store in a Ziploc bag or glass container in the freezer. Now you can make rhubarb sauce, rhubarb compote, rhubarb syrup, rhubarb pie, most anything rhubarb—lickety split.

Other Bloggers Bloggin' About Rhubarb

Dairy Free, Gluten Free Raw Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie over at My Real Food Life

Creamy Rhubarb and Vodka Cocktail over at Jamie Oliver (I am determined to find a way to make this one alcohol-free so that I can have one everyday for the rest of rhubarb season)

Rhubarb Scones (Gluten-Free and Egg-Free) over at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

Stewed Rhubarb with Star Anise and Ginger over at Jeanette’s Healthy Living

Thursday
Jun092011

Grant Family Farms Spring Tour 2011

Grant Family Farms Spring Tour | Wellington, Colorado

As we head into another weekend, I thought I would share our highlight of last weekend. Aside from Summer finally making its appearance, it was the weekend of the Grant Family Farms Spring Tour. Grant Family Farms is the local farm we receive produce and eggs from each week for close to six months out of the year.

Every spring they hold this family-centric event. It's a great opportunity to see a large-scale organic farm up close, and to meet people who share your passion for whole food and supporting local farmers.

It was a gorgeous day and while my husband and brother enjoyed some bluegrass, I took in a presention by the Colorado State University Extension on how to Preserve the Harvest. My boys had their share of fun herding worms, making mud seed balls, being spat on by a llama and hay bale jumping.

There were some great vendors I visited with and that I must mention:

And of course great music:

If you live in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, I hope to see you next year! If you live elsewhere, consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. Here is a site that will help you locate a farm near you. Our weekly delivery starts next week, can't wait!

Some CSAs offer “Working Shares.” You work the farm, you get a discount. Simple as that. Rewarding as that. Last year I spent 4 hours hoeing, 4 hours weeding and 8 hours picking pumpkins.

The “Art Barn” was a cool hang out on a hot day.

These hens have got it made. Isn’t this the coolest coop? These chickadees get free rides all over the farm. Wonder if they get a discount off of their CSA share? Eating bugs and fertilizing is hard work!

Herding Worms 101. My oldest is really into worms. Our backyard is full of one foot deep holes. He thought this pile of dirt was a goldmine.

Crawfish, it’s what’s for dinner. My little guy doesn’t know that yet.

Ahhh, the majestic front range of the Rocky Mountains. I love, love love it here!

And here's that dinner.

Angie Stevens and her band. Very good! She sings right to the heart of 40 somethings like me. You know like "the house is clean, the dishes are done, I wish I was seventeen again."

Dynamite! Just like our time in Texas. The Cottonwood Grove string band.

With the kids tuckered out, we loaded up and headed back north. I made my husband do a U-turn so that I could get this shot. We literally live "where the deer and the antelope play." What a beautiful site at the end of a beautiful day. They have the prettiest eyelashes.

 

Monday
Jun062011

Carrot Cake Smoothie | Dairy-Free 

My husband's love for carrot cake and my son's abhorrence of most vegetables, in their natural form, inspired this smoothie.The little one in our house that eats everything just will not eat most vegetables in their natural form. That's not to say we don't to try, beg, plead. To date we've conquered his aversion to broccoli trees, green beans and cannonball peas. For the rest, well, we rely on smoothies. You can hide A LOT in them. Today I served up carrot cake in a glass. It won his "mmmmm." Will it win yours?

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Easily Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Serves:  1-2
Active Time:  3 minutes

Ingredients:

1 large handful roughly chopped raw CARROT
1 small handful raw WALNUTS
2 cups non-dairy MILK (today I used unsweetened So Delicious® Coconut Milk Beverage)
1/4 teaspoon CINNAMON (or to taste)
1 tablespoon LEMON JUICE
Pinch of SALT
Sweeten to taste with your favorite SWEETENER (I use 10 drops of stevia concetrate)
1 cup ICE CUBES (or more if you like super frosty smoothies)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender (I use a Blendtec), except ice, until super smooth. Add ice and blend until smooth.

How have you won your kids over to vegetables?

Share by leaving a comment below. We'd love to hear!?

Monday
May302011

[Don't] Shake Your Kombucha

Really, what IS it? Read on to find out ...

This past weekend our little family took a drive west toward Laramie—that'd be Wyoming—to have lunch at one of our favorite spots, Lovejoy's Bar & Grill. The usual routine; lunch at Lovejoy's and then a stroll across the street for a leisurely cup of coffee at Coal Creek Coffee Company.

Coal Creek Coffee Company | Laramie, WyomingThen we trek to the top of the Laramie Railway Bridge where we wait for oncoming trains to race under our feet. One, two, fifteen, twenty, forty-five cars—what a rush!

Laramie Railway Bridge | Laramie, WyomingLastly, before heading home via Happy Jack Road, it's a stop at one of our favorite natural food stores, Big Hollow Food Coop.

This store is a gem!

It's where I pick up vanilla beans for $1.49 a piece and where I first found beet powder.

It's where I buy local duck eggs and bison.

And where I bought this here Oregon Kombucha Company Starter Kit.

A kombucha kit? Yep! Total impulse buy.

I'd tried a few of the store bought varieties of bottled kombucha, why not brew some up myself!?

For those unfamiliar with kombucha, it is a tart and fizzy fermented beverage made from sweetened tea (black or green). For the last 2,000 years, families across Asia have enjoyed kombucha for its purported medicinal qualities.

Once home, and with great anticipation, I dove into my kombucha starter kit.  I pulled out the directions, check. Then some strawberry scented green tea, check. Then a bag of yellowish liquid with a chunk of slimy white matter floating in it.

"What is that!?," my husband remarked.

I hadn't the faintest.

Back to the directions.

Turns out the slimy pancake thing was a chunk of SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). It's the tasty "mother" morsel (not!) that feeds on the sweetened tea and transforms it into kombucha. The blob almost frightened me into forgoing the experiment, but I decided to forge ahead.

With all my equipment sterilized, I got to work. I brewed the tea, dissolved a cup of organic cane sugar into it, let it cool, added the blob and the liquid it swam in to the tea, set it in a warm spot and now, well, now I wait 7-30 days.

Of what little research is out there, kombucha has shown to have antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties in lab tests. For me, the verdict is still out. Some sources have scared me into not even wanting to touch the stuff. Others have likened it to miracle water. We'll just have to see how this mad science experiment turns out. Look for an update in a week or two—if I survive the first sip.

More on Kombucha

How to Make Kombucha over at Seeds of Health
Kombucha: What It Is and Its Health Benefits and Health Drawbacks over at Body Ecology
The Kombucha Starter Kit Company Brewing Instructions over at Oregon Kombucha
What is Kombucha? over at Happy Healthy Life

DISCLAIMER: If you are going to try this at home, do so at your own risk—I am. As with anything new, read up on it. Kombucha may not be the right beverage for you. The Body Ecology article above makes the case that kombucha may not be the best fermented beverage for people following the Anti-Candida Diet and/or those with compromised immune systems. It's always best to seek the advice of a nutritionist or doctor.

Share with Us

Do you drink kombucha? What's your take on it?

Wednesday
May252011

Dairy-Free Frozen Custard

A bowl of this Dairy-Free Frozen Custard should hit the spot this Memorial Day weekend. The coconut sugar it's sweetened with imparts a hint of caramel flavor. What would you mix in?With a long weekend coming up I am excited to have some extra time to play with "mix-in's" for this basic, super creamy dairy-free frozen custard. I thought I would go ahead and post it to see if you had some tasty ideas. I'm thinking coffee, cookie dough ... hmmmmm. How about you? I'd also like to experiment with different sweeteners. The one thing I like about using coconut sugar is the color and caramel flavor it imparts. Plus it's low glycemic and can be cut back even further should you choose to use part stevia, part sugar.

Dairy-Free Frozen Custard

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian

Serves: 6
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: Approximately 7-9 hours

Ingredients:

3 EGG YOLKS
2 cans full fat COCONUT MILK (I prefer Thai Kitchen®)
1/2 cup COCONUT SUGAR
1 tablespoon VANILLA EXTRACT
10 drops vanilla LIQUID STEVIA (or 1/4 cup additional coconut sugar)
Pinch of SEA SALT

Directions:

In medium bowl, whisk yolks and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine and gently heat milk and sugar until a few whisps of steam rise from surface (do not boil). Whisk 1/4 cup cream mixture into yolks. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining cream mixture and gently heat over medium, stirring constantly, for an additional 3-5 minutes or until mixture thicken just a bit and coats spoon.

Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla, stevia (if using) and salt. Cover and transfer to refrigerator to chill 6-8 hours. Add to ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer’s instructions (I make mine in a Cuisinart). Serve immediately or for a firmer frozen custard, transfer to a glass container with an air-tight lid and freeze. Remove from freezer 10-15 minutes before serving to allow it to soften up a bit.

Notes:

Cane sugar is something I rarely stock in my pantry. For those who do, brown sugar would make a suitable replacement for the coconut sugar—maybe use a little less or sweeten to taste. I highly recommend giving coconut sugar a try. It has a lovely flavor and is lower on the Glycemic Index than cane (approximately 35 vs. 60). The Spunky Coconut has a great post on coconut sugar, so check it out. Buy it off of Amazon or at your local natural food store or from a co-op like Azure Standard (I love them!).

Other Dairy-Free Frozen Treats to Try

Basic Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream over at Go Dairy Free
Honey Cinnamon Grand Marnier Ice Cream over at Gluten Free Easily
Dairy Free Coconut Chai Ice Cream over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free
Macadamia Nut & Coffee Ice Cream over at The Spunky Coconut
Vegan Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream over at Elana's Pantry

Monday
May232011

Book Review: Everyday Paleo

I made this super-easy Karina's Sausage Hash from the new cookbook "Everday Paleo." Made it with four ingredients and it only took me 15 minutes!

Okay gang, I'm back. Still reeling from a rather stressful month, but am back—well kind of.

So last night I sat in the local emergency room for five hours, observed a few things and had a long, overdue chat with myself. It seems three years worth of stress finally caught up with me in the form of chest pain. It had been going on a week and I finally decided I'd better get checked out.

The talk I had with myself went like this "let things go, stop trying to control everything, worrying is not getting you anywhere (but the ER!), find joy and laughter in everyday things, have compassion toward others, love the soul and focus less on the human faults."

Then there were the observations. First, I marvelled at how the emergency staff was able to provide compassionate care yet not get emotionally wrapped up in every case that walked through the door. A big lesson for me. They helped as they could, did the best they could, were kind and comforting, but did not crack under the pressure. The second observation was the number of sick and wounded that came in. Miscarriages, car accidents, migraines, chest pain, illness, wounds, young and old. That's when I thought to myself that into every life the unexpected comes. Trials and heartbreak. No one is spared. I can go on about the stress in my life, but it doesn't make me special, we all have it. What I need to turn my attention to is how I react and respond to the annoyances and bumps in life.

So what does all of this have to do with a book review?

This morning I spent more time with Sarah Fragoso's new book, Everyday Paleo: Embracing a Natural Diet & Lifestyle to Increase Your Family's Health, Fitness, and Longevity and Sarah gave it to me straight (she's a personal trainer afterall)!

In the chapter "Sleep and Stress" she was speaking right to me when she says:

"[The] secret to successfully destressing is the same as my secret to
maintaining a healthy lifestyle—make the choice to do it! We can choose
to always wallow in the challenges that life throws at us or we can embrace
life's challenges, grateful for all of the good in life that we do have.

Bad stuff happens, every day, all of the time, but managing your
health first is the most important factor in surviving the bad
and coming through it thriving!" 

What I really admire about Sarah and her book is that she, like many of us, is an active mom who has had her share of painful experiences and personal challenges. But looking at her today, I see an overcomer. She glows and inspires.

I think of Everyday Paleo as a 3-in-1 therapy, recipe and fitness book. Sarah's goal is to help you lose weight, regain your health and achieve a level of fitness you never thought possible. She gives detailed instructions for acquiring a Paleo lifestyle. She shows that eating a Paleo diet is not only feasible for the busiest of families, but also easy, delicious and completely life changing. She offers numerous recipes for all meals of the day, and provides tips for getting around common road blocks, such as eating out and school lunches. Finally, to keep your entire family fit and sane, she lays out easy-to-follow workout routines that you can do at the gym or at home.

If you've been curious about the Paleo way of eating and want an easy to follow plan, this would be a good book to buy. Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution, wrote the forward to Sarah's book. You might check out his book for an indepth look at the diet.

I'd say that our family follows a Paleo-inspired diet. I am not sure if we would ever go 100% Paleo, but the tenets of the diet make a whole lot of sense to me. And the simple, wholesome recipes in Everyday Paleo are all ones I plan to try.

Everyday Paleo can be purchased from Amazon. Oh and don't forget to check out the Everyday Paleo blog!

___________________________________________________________________________

The Concept Behind the Paleo Way of Eating
"We should eat as our ancestors once did, we should eat based on how we
are genetically wired to eat, and we should eat foods that are not processed,
modified, or tampered with in any way, shape, or form."

___________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Sunday
May152011

Reflections on Bolting Cilantro

A guest post from my mom and dad from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Reflections on Bolting Cilantro

The too short useful lifespan of the ''little bit goes a long way'' Cilantro in the garden has, at times, frustrated me.

There is such a short window of time to traditionally harvest the the pungent cilantro leaf! Gleefully snapping up my packet of Cilantro seeds from the garden section of our local store, my taste buds perk up from a vision of Guacamole, Thai Spring Rolls and Curry. 

I am in the habit of planting about 10 seeds a week to have successive harvests that are just right, at the usual stage of neat and tidy large potent leaves which are carefully cut from their stems, and sparingly added to my dishes. I still love using the large leaves in the traditional way for garnish and flavor.

Catching my attention in the back row, I admire Cilantro's next stage, which had always gone to compost. I now find myself watching the cilantro bolt after the first harvest. 

Previously, this stage was dreaded because the leaves are smaller, way milder and too hard to harvest. The voluminous 15'' gorgeous dark green, bushy, leafy, many branched, mild scented and sweet, bolting stage of Cilantro called out to me, so I gently cut the bolting plants one inch from the ground (they'll regrow), and whisked them into the kitchen. The main stem is discarded. Chop quite a big pile of everything else (at least several cups per serving). This makes a winning addition to any soup, stew, or stir-fry dish!

I now find myself wishing my cilantro hurries up and gets to that awkward, bolting stage, for the mildest, best tasting, small leafy greens and tender stems!