Sunday, December 21, 2014

Banana Bread (Dairy-free with No Refined Sugars)

I've always had a good recipe for banana bread. However, it contains dairy and refined sugars. (To view that version of the recipe, you can click here. It's delicious.)

After doing a little bit of kitchen experimentation, I've come up with an amazing recipe for banana bread that is made without the use of dairy or refined sugars. I have to say that it tastes great!

You will need the following dry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup white rice flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all of the above ingredients, in a mixing bowl, using a whisk.

Add the following wet ingredients:
2 over-ripened, mashed bananas
½-¾ cup loosely-packed, softened date paste (cut into small cubes/pieces)
1 egg
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 container (100 mL) pureed apples
1 teaspoon honey

Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes, in a greased baking pan (greased with olive oil).

This banana bread is guaranteed to please anyone's palate.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Breakfast Bulgar

If oatmeal has become your hated choice for breakfast gruel, you may want to switch things up by using bulgar (bulgur) instead.

Bulgar is a cereal food made from the hulled kernels (groats) of wheat. The wheat is normally parboiled and contains a fair amount of fibre.

To make it, simply bring 1 part bulgar and 2 parts water to boil in a pot. Cover the pot and let the bulgar simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. (Cooking times will vary depending on the size and type of bulgar you are using.)

In any case, the cooked bulgar can be enjoyed in any way you like. I like to have it with some warmed almond milk and a dollop of all-natural jam.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Homemade Gianduia

Gianduia (also spelled gianduja) is a chocolate-hazelnut spread. You may have heard of an Italian product called Nutella. Well, Nutella is actually the brand-name for a type of gianduia.

If you have tasted Nutella, you are probably aware that it is awesome. Well, for those of you who have dairy and refined sugar restrictions, you definitely will not be able to enjoy the Ferrero version of the spread.

However, what if I told you that you could make your own dairy-free and sugar-free gianduia, in a matter of minutes?

Please note that the no measurements are required for this recipe.

You can work with a double boiler, in order to not scorch the ingredients, but feel free to work directly on the stove top if you feel that your skills are advanced enough. Note, chocolate can and will burn easily if you don't know what you're doing.

Begin with melting a desired amount of unsweetened Baker's chocolate.

Once melted, add carob powder to sweeten.

(Carob powder is derived from the fruit of the carob tree. It is also known as St. John's-bread or locust bean. Carob powder is used as a substitute for cocoa powder and can be found quite easily in bulk food stores. Simply put, carob powder is very similar to cocoa powder, except that it does not contain any stimulants, like caffeine. Additionally, it contains some carbohydrates, making it naturally sweet. To me, it tastes a bit like "caramel meets maple syrup".)

Add enough carob powder to meet your desired level of sweetness.

Your mixture may become clumpy at this time.

To the mixture, add enough hazelnut butter to equal approximately 1/3 of the amount of melted chocolate and carob.

(Gianduia normally consists of approximately 30% hazelnut paste. I use hazelnut butter, because in Canada, hazelnut butter can be found easily in major grocery stores.)

The natural oils in the hazelnut butter should smooth out the clumps and bring the mixture to the consistency of a spread. If the mixture has not loosened up enough, feel free to add either some olive oil or coconut oil in order to get it to the desired consistency.

At this point, your dairy-free, refined sugar-free gianduia will be ready to enjoy.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fig Syrup

If you're trying to stay away from refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, you have a number of options, of natural food ingredients, that can be used in their place. One of your options could be to use fig syrup, a.k.a. miele di fichi or fig honey.

Personally speaking, fig syrup tended not to aggravate my intestinal flare-ups. It may also be a good option for you if "fiber is not your friend".

In Canada, this product is basically impossible to purchase. So, you'll have to make it yourself. Don't worry. It's actually quite simple. Click here for my recipe.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Banana "Ice Cream"

People love ice cream. I don't care if you can digest dairy or not. It's delicious. However, for those who cannot consume dairy or refined sugars, it can be quite difficult to satisfy an ice cream craving.

Making banana ice cream is actually quite simple, as it requires only one ingredient. Bananas. That's all.

Take sliced pieces of a frozen banana and blend until smooth. It's as simple as that. The texture of the banana will become smooth and creamy, just like real ice cream.

Personally, I like to add a few other ingredients to impart some awesome flavour. Try adding a dollop of all-natural peanut butter and some crumbled baker's chocolate (unsweetened) to the mix, before blending. It's delicious.

As a word of warning, you will want to consume this "ice cream" immediately. It does not freeze or keep well after it is made. However, with a frozen dessert made this quickly and easily (and being tasty to boot), you won't have any leftovers to keep.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pressure Cooker Love

Pressure cookers tend to be known as nostalgic cookware. However, in the days of trying to make meals with limited preparation time, this gadget is a must have.

I know that people tend to use slow cookers in order to prepare meals in advance. This process often involves some piece of meat that is slow cooked, over a number of hours, so that it is tender and delicious.

In contrast, pressure cookers cook meat (and other foods) extremely quickly to a tender state. The ingredients are cooked in a pressurized environment, so that rapid cooking can be achieved. The beauty of cooking using a pressure cooker is that it allows for all of the ingredients to be placed in one pot, with a minimal amount of liquid required.

Here is a an example of chicken, prepared in the pressure cooker, for 25 minutes, from frozen.

Here is another example of stewing beef, cooked in a pressure cooker, for approximately 30 minutes.

Below is example of shredded beef prepared by using a pressure cooker.

Try finding a pressure cooker to add to your collection of cookware. I'm sure you'll find plenty of uses for it in your daily lives. It's not just for grandmothers.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Green Tomato Curry

Raw fruit and veg, generally, tend to be very difficult to digest. An easy solution, to help with digestion, is to cook the vegetables. To further aid in the process, currying the vegetables can provide digestive support.

Green tomatoes might just be one of my favourite kitchen ingredients. That being said, green tomato curry might also be one of my most favourite curries to make.

Green tomatoes cook very easily and quickly. So, you can add it to any curry base.

The recipe for my quick curry base can be found by clicking here. Just substitute the okra and carrots for some chopped green tomatoes. You can also reduce the cooking (simmering) time to approximately 10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Aloe Relief

Digestive ups and downs can lead to painful burning sensations to one's gastro-intestinal system. To find relief, often times I would rely on a product called Aloe Vera Gel (inner fillet) by Lily of the Desert.

Unlike commercially produced aloe drinks, this gel has no other ingredients other than the aloe vera gel itself. So, it has no added sugars. This is good to know, as refined sugars, in my opinion, tend to have inflammatory properties (not good when you're trying to reduce inflammation).

Think of this aloe gel like the kind you would use on your external body after a burn. The same type of cooling sensation and healing can be experienced internally.

The dosage I would use was 1-3 oz in a glass of water. I would drink up twice per day, on an empty stomach, until my symptoms subsided

You can find this product in local health food stores.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chicory Coffee

Sadly, constipation can be another major issue with those who suffer with digestive issues. I have found that a combination of coffee and chicory can provide relief in a natural way.

Traditionally, the two ingredients were mixed together as a cost saving measure, as chicory was a commonly found plant root versus the expensive coffee bean.

If you can find it, Café Du Monde is an awesome product, not to mention that it's great-tasting. It comes all the way from New Orleans. However, if you live in Toronto, here's a tip...You can find it easily in Vietnamese tuck shops.

Alternatively, if you're an instant coffee drinker, BRU Instant is for you. It's a product from India, but it can be easily found in Asian markets throughout Toronto.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pomegranate Peel Tea

People with digestive issues often suffer from chronic or intermittent diarrhea.

Instead of loading up on pharmaceutical drugs, try drinking a tea made by steeping the peel of a pomegranate in hot water.

This infusion can be used to ease diarrhea.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Date Paste

Soaking dates over night in water and blending with a little lemon or lime juice will leave you with a wonderful tasting date paste. This paste can be used as a natural sweetener, perfect for those wanting to avoid processed sugars.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brewed coffee produces a product with up to 70% less acid. For some, this coffee may be easier to digest. 

To make it, soak ground coffee beans in cold water for 12 to 14 hours. Strain, heat and enjoy.

For a stronger brew, soak the ground coffee for 24 hours. You'll end up with cold brewed espresso.

Luo Han Guo Tea

Luo han guo tea a.k.a. monk fruit tea is a naturally sweet, zero calorie beverage that is made from this dried Asian gourd. 

Simply break the hard shell, to expose the inner fruit, and place in a pot of water set to boil. Once at a rolling boil, set to simmer for 20 minutes. 

You can enjoy this tea warm or use it as a sugar-free sweetener.

Traditionally, this tea is used for throat-related issues and to boost one's immune system. 

Almond Milk Lattes

Try making lattes by substituting the cow's milk for unsweetened almond milk.

Back Again - A Health Update

Dear Readers,

It has been a number months since I had posted last on this blog. I'm quite grateful that individuals are still interested in the recipes and food information that I had posted over the years. I can tell, because blog hits were kept quite consistent. Thank you!

To give you an update, one of the reasons I stopped writing on this blog was due to the fact that I was dealing with a number of health problems (ironically having to do with my digestive system).

Some of you may know that I was diagnosed with a small intestine infection, which rendered me unable to digest a number of foods. In order to combat this infection, my doctor had taken me off of most foods that were considered "difficult to digest", so that my small intestine could heal. These 'no-no' foods included:
- dairy
- gluten
- fried foods
- alcohol
- raw vegetables
- cruciferous vegetables
- most legumes

As you can probably guess, I couldn't eat much and, as a result, I lost a lot of weight.

As a secondary condition, due to malabsorption, I ended up with osteoporosis and osteopenia.

It took a number of years, but the infection eventually "cleared" and I was left with, what I thought was, a very sensitive digestive system. Certain foods I would eat would aggravate my system, causing painful flare-ups. These flare-ups were not just isolated to my gastrointestinal system. Rather, they would also effect my skin, sleep, mood, glands, etc. There was no rhyme or reason for it. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I noticed, through trial and error, that I was able to eat certain foods which enabled me to control my symptoms, whereas consuming other foods would severely aggravate my system. At some point, I made the connection between my eating habits and body typing using an Ayurvedic system. Ayurveda, in a nutshell, is an ancient Indian way of life which takes into account body types with healthy living practices (including what and how one eats). 

My body type was classified as "Vata". I was surprised to find that foods that were recommended for the Vata group were very similar to the foods on my informal list of foods that were "safe" to eat. The group was also advised to avoid certain foods. To my surprise, the foods on the 'avoid list' were the same foods that would create issues for me.

Generally, it is recommended that individuals in this group consume foods that are:
- warm
- heavy
- dense
- wet
- rich
- sweet

The group is recommended not to consume foods that are:
- light
- airy
- crispy
- crunchy
- dry

Additionally, I found that the following foods were also on my 'no-no' list:
- dairy
- fried foods
- raw vegetables
- alcohol
- cruciferous vegetables
- some legumes
- refined sugars

I was also taking pointers from vegans, raw foodists, paleo dieters, meat-eaters, traditionalists, and clean food eaters.

It was now a whole different ballgame. Even though it doesn't sound like it, it was quite liberating, as my new dietary choices allowed for a lot of flexibility in my life.

Additionally, I was using digestive enzymes in order to be able to eat.

Recently, I found out that I was not quite accurately diagnosed. Through a not-so-routine test with a specialist, I found out that I had been harbouring two different types of parasites in my gastrointestinal system. The infection that I had was actually a long-standing parasitic infection, causing my digestive issues for half a decade. The two types of parasites wreaked havoc on my system and forced me to, essentially, change my lifestyle.

Since then, the parasitic infections have now cleared.

Looking at my life challenges in a positive manner, I have never felt healthier. I no longer have the need for digestive enzymes. The changes I made to my diet allowed me to be creative in food preparation, as well as to increase my awareness of truly healthy foods.

As a testament to my food lifestyle, I was able to combat and beat osteoporosis/osteopenia with my new diet and exercise regime (without the use of pharmaceutical medicines and/or supplements). Yay!

I had kept a bit of a photo journal regarding my food discoveries. The postings on this blog, from this day forward, will take on a different format. Photo journal entries will be highlighted with either simple directions and/or explanations.

Please feel free to comment and share posts as they come. I hope these future posts will be as helpful to you as they were to me!

Happy eating.