Welcome to Lexie's Kitchen & Living. I'm glad you stopped by and hope you enjoy the five years of recipes and ramblings collected here.

The inspiration for this site was my son. To learn about our journey to restore his intestinal and neurological health read here

Follow a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free diet? Take a peek at my cookbook.  

 

 

 


 

 

 

Tuesday
Oct022012

How to Make a Chia Egg (or Flax Egg)

Gel eggs (chia or flax) are my secret weapon in egg-free baking. Pictured: Chia gel.

The last few days I have been working like a mad woman cooking and shooting food. A huge [HUGE] thank you goes out to my sister who has been visiting ... and doing dishes ... and playing sous chef ... and entertaining my kids. Without her I wouldn't have been able to nail 15 shots in two days!

Needless to say, I am a little pooped.

So, today I'm keeping it simple and sharing a tip for those who have never heard of or used gel eggs as egg replacers in baking. Way back when, I used the powder Ener-G egg replacer, but it wasn't until I began using chia and flax eggs that my gluten-free, egg-free baking really took off.

This "recipe" is for making one egg replacer. You are pretty safe using gel eggs in most baked goods that call for two eggs or less. Gel eggs "bind." Unfortunately they do not add much in the way of fluff as would be achieved with eggs in a souffle or sponge cake. Nor would I make a quiche with gel eggs (ewww gross)!

I encourage you to experiment and play. Gel eggs may not work in every recipe, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. My go-to special occasion birthday cake mix is Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix. I substitute the dairy milk with any non-dairy substitute and the eggs with gel eggs. The results are fantastic! Moist, great crumb, great flavor! Here's what they turn out like!

Chia Egg & Flax Egg Replacer

To make gel eggs only requires one tool—a grinder like a Magic Bullet or coffee/spice grinder for grinding the raw, whole chia or flax seed to meal. I use the later—a cheap-o one I picked up at Target.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon CHIA MEAL or FLAX MEAL (seeds that have been ground)
3 tablespoons WATER

Instructions

  1. Whisk meal and water together and let stand 5-10 minutes until thick, gelatinous and gloppy.
  2. Use in baking as you would one egg.

Tips

  1. Chia and flax seeds may be purchased online and at most natural grocery stores.
  2. Always start with fresh seeds. I never buy pre-ground. The fragile oils go rancid quickly.
  3. Grind seed just before using.
  4. Leftover gel may be kept refrigerated. Use within 3 days.
  5. Store whole seed in airtight containers. Chia may be kept in a cool dark place for years. Flax seed is best refrigerated.
  6. Opt for White Chia and Golden Flax. The darker varieties can leave your baked goods with a pepper-flaked appearance.
  7. Some sources suggest that the refrigeration of the gel for 15 minutes is a must. Too high-maintenance and I don't notice a difference.

Monday
Oct012012

An Apology for an Oversight

This day has not gone the way I thought it would. I had a slew of chores to tackle. But they had to be dropped because …

… I slipped up … and I am so sorry.

You see, today I received a comment from Nancy on my coconut yogurt post. She wrote:

“I see the Vegan culture [Cultures for Health Vegetal] is processed in a plant with a lot of no-no's for me. I would love to try the coconut yogurt but am leery of the starter you use. Anybody have trouble with it because of cross contamination?”

I halted in my tracks. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Had I failed my readers?

Apparently so and I am profusely sorry.

It is my aim to be diligent about reading labels and recommending only products that are free of gluten, dairy, and eggs and/or any possibility of cross-contamination with gluten, dairy, and eggs.

I have spent the morning researching Nancy’s claim. And she is absolutely right.

Right there on the Vegetal Yogurt Starter label it reads:

“Produced in a facility that also manufactures wheat, soy, eggs, nuts and fish.”

How did I miss this!? I am beside myself.

But wait, it got worse!

I called Cultures for Health who referred me to their source for Vegetal. That source pointed me to the manufacturer’s spec sheet.

It’s not every day that the average consumer reads a food manufacturer’s spec sheet and had I not I wouldn't have even discovered that barley and soy are used as "fermentation nutrients" in the production of Vegetal. I take that to mean that the bacteria is fed barley and soy and that the barley and soy (and gluten in the barley) is completely consumed by the bacteria? I sure hope so.

The spec sheet goes on to say:

“Danisco [the manufacturer] has determined that fermentation nutrients [barley and soy] are outside the scope of US and EU food allergen labeling requirements. Local regulation has always to be consulted as allergen labeling requirements may vary from country to country.” 

I am not sure what THAT means and I am no food scientist (can one pipe in?), but until I can verify that this product is indeed completely “safe,” I can no longer recommend it. Fortunately we have not had any problems with it. For all I know it may be a non-issue. But I will remain on the safe side for your sake.

With all this said. I apologize once more for not doing my homework and for this oversight.

And I thank Nancy for bringing this all to our attention. I need my readers!

I will be returning to using 35-40 billion CFU's (colony forming units) of Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete probiotic capsules per 2 quarts of liquid for making yogurt. The only downside with Klaire Labs is that they do not sell direct. Products are sold exclusively to healthcare professionals, authorized distributors, and patients with a physician-supplied authorization code. However, because it is impossible for me, a consumer, to oversee every step in the manufacturing process, I must leave it up to you to research and decide which yogurt culture or probiotic is safe for you and your family. I use Klaire Labs, but defer to you to find decide on which product you will choose to use.

The one tip I can provide when selecting a non-dairy yogurt starter or priobiotic capsule is to select one that includes the lactic acid-producing bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. In the United States, the USDA defines "yogurt" as containing these two strains bacteria.

Thank you for being a loyal Lexie’s Kitchen reader. I made a oversight and hope you will forgive me.

I will leave the Cultures for Health shopping link on my site as some of you do not have issues with soy and gluten and/or may deem this product “safe enough” for your personal use.

Today I did not accomplish what I set out to do, but I have learned TWO great lessons:

1. Scrutinize labels—each and every time! Manufacturing processes can and do change. Ingredients and manufacturing processes used one day may not be the same the next.

2. Admit when you are wrong. The kind and understanding people will forgive knowing that you are doing your best. We all make mistakes and oversights.

xoLexie

Sources: Yo-Mix™ Vegetal 7 375 DCU Product Description www.danisco.com

Thursday
Sep272012

New Cookbook! Paleo Indulgences

All you paleo/primal peeps. Are you ready to indulge?

Want to win a copy of a great new cookbook?

Okay ... well let's get to it.

Tammy Credicott and I hung out this week to talk about her new cookbook, Paleo Indulgences. Tammy is an absolute delight! We hit it off and had a great time. I hope you will get acquainted with her via this Google Hangout on Air, over at her site, and through her cookbooks The Healthy Gluten-Free Life and Paleo Indulgences. I look forward to connecting with her again soon in another Google Hangout. We could've talked for hours!

 

And for those interested, Tammy's husband Cain is the publisher of Paleo Magazine—the first, and only, print magazine dedicated to the Paleo lifestyle. Check it out. Can't wait to receive my first issue! The Credicott's may make a convert of me yet!

Win a Copy of Paleo Indulgences!

This giveaway is now closed. Jessica (Jesswil28), you are the winner of the cookbook Paleo Indulgences. Please contact me with your shipping address.

Tammy would like to send one Lexie's Kitchen reader a signed copy of Paleo Indulgences. Enter by 4:00 pm (PST) October 2nd, 2012.

1. FOR ONE CHANCE TO WIN, leave a comment at the end of this post.

2. For a ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN, share this post with your friends on Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook or other social media and leave an additional comment saying you did so.

3. For a ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN, add me to your circles on Google+ (what is Google+) and leave an additional comment saying you did so.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday
Sep232012

My Cleaning Friend, My Bon Ami

For decades I used good old Comet to scrub the tub, kitchen sink, and other surfaces with stuck on crud. Then a couple years back, in my attempt to go "greener," I started using Bon Ami Powder Cleanser.

I will never go back.

You see ...

Bon Ami was a green company long before "green" became a product category. They didn’t start out striving to be green. They just started out with simple ingredients and simple processes to make products that work without dangerous chemicals, and that are biodegradable, nontoxic and hypoallergenic.

Take my favorite, Bon Ami Powder Cleanser for example. It's made of five simple ingredients.

  • Alkyl polyglucoside (glucose and fatty alcohols inherent in the natural oils of corn and coconut)
  • Feldspar
  • Limestone (calcium carbonate)
  • Soda Ash (sodium carbonate)
  • Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)

The result is a natural, effective cleaner.

How I Use Bon Ami Powder Cleanser

In our home, there are two cleaning applications where the Bon Ami Powder Cleanser really shines—in removing scorch marks from cookware (stainless and enamel-coated) and dissolving soap scum.

Cleaning Cookware

Bon Ami products will not scratch enamel-coated cookware like Le Creuset. Thanks goodness! Since I use Bon Ami on mine all the time. Bon Ami is great at removing cooked-on—even burnt-on—food from enamel cookware. But do note that over time and with lots of use, the enamel itself will start to deepen in color. The pros call it "curing," and are rather proud of it. It isn't really possible to take the enamel back to new. But that curing does not hurt future meals in any way. To remove heavy-duty messes from cookware I make a paste of water and the powder cleanser and apply a coating over the cooked-on food or scorch mark. After letting is sit for 30 minutes, I use a little elbow grease and a sponge and voila, sparkling clean!

Cleaning the Bath and Shower

Moving on to the bath and shower, I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am with how sparkling this cleanser leaves my acrylic tub and walls. I give the entire surface a quick spray down with water and then apply a thin coat of the powder cleanser with my hand. I let it sit for 15-20 minutes then wipe down—using a little elbow grease as needed. You will feel the grime release. Please note that when it it comes to shower and bath surfaces it's always best to test a small, inconspicuous place.

Use with Care on Glass

You may know the famous tagline the Bon Ami chick chirps, but not many know why she says “Hasn’t scratched, yet!” Well, just as Bon Ami won't scratch surfaces, a brand new baby chick doesn't yet scratch at the earth for the first few days of its life. Hence, Bon Ami’s promise to be tough on messes, but gentle as a baby chick.

Bon Ami has traditionally been the go-to product for cleaning glass and mirrors. And it's still safe for glass if you are absolutely certain that what you are cleaning is only glass. That's because the feldspar in Bon Ami is a softer material than the silica traditionally used to make glass.

That said, these days not all glass is only glass. Safety glass, UV coatings, tinted windows, non-shattering windshields, and other window materials are all coated with various kinds of plastic. These coatings make life safer, but they need non-abrasive cleaners. 

Lexie's Kitchen Readers Love it Too!

Now let's hear from some rockin' Lexie's Kitchen readers on how they use Bon Ami Powder Cleanser!

"I have used this product for many years and started using it to polish my stainless steel fridge, dishwasher, and wall oven. In addition, I used it to totally clean my outdoor grill. Everything always looks so beautiful, clean, and polished when I am finished using this product."

"I use it almost everywhere and my favorite natural food store now carries Bon Ami in liquid form for cleaning and washing dishes. Yeah!"

"I've been using it for oh, 30 years now because it doesn't have weird chemicals and chlorine in it. I use it everywhere in the house to scrub, including in the bathroom along with vinegar and tea tree oil."

"I love Bon Ami! I use it on my white ceramic sink. It gets out all the scuffs and stains...making it look like new. It's cheap, I can get it at Target, and it works great!"

"I use it for my sink, but just the other day I used it on the outside of my stainless steel Kitchen Aid bowl to get the hard water off!"

"Toilets, ceramic sinks, tubs, shower, glass shower door, stainless steel, and grout! Just a few places really!"

Tuesday
Sep182012

Southern Corn and Green Beans Recipe

I cherish the stories my grandparents share of the days of their childhood in North Carolina. And I especially love those revolving around food.

Recently I asked my Tutu if there was a story behind her Southern Corn and Green Beans.

"Of course," she chuckled. "I remember mother had stepped out of the kitchen and father came in to steal a peek at what was simmering on the stove. When he saw that it was corn and beans he exclaimed 'this woman just don't know how to cook beans!' and marched across the kitchen, cut a couple of slices off a hunk of back fat, and returned to throw them in the pot."

This is my Tutu's adaptation of that Corn and Green Bean recipe. She takes after her mother in that she leaves out the back fat. :) Either way, I love this dish!

Southern Corn and Green Beans

Ingredients:

2 ears fresh-picked CORN, husked
1/2 pound fresh GREEN BEANS, trimmed
1 cup CHICKEN BROTH, divided
1-2 tablespoons BUTTER SUBSTITUTE (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free), optional
2 teaspoon ARROWROOT STARCH or corn starch
SALT and PEPPER to taste

Directions:

  1. Slice corn off cobs (see top below).
  2. Cut beans French-style by slicing thinly on the diagonal (here is a video to show you how) or by using this gadget or this gadget.
  3. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup water and arrowroot starch. Set aside.
  4. Add green beans to pot along with remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth. Cover and simmer until tender-crisp.
  5. Add corn kernels and simmer another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Stir in butter substitute and arrowroot slurry. Return to simmer and cook another minut.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Notes:

  1. I make big batches of Corn and Green Beans and freeze in zip top bags for a quick weeknight side dish. Just need to reheat and done.
  2. Slicing corn off the cob is a breeze when you use a tube pan (like a bundt or angel food). Just prop the ear of corn in the tube and slice your way around. All the kernels neatly collect in the bottom of the pan.