New Children's Book about Food Intolerance - Coming Soon: Woolfred Cannot Eat Dandelions

Woolfred Cannot Eat Dandelions; A Tale of Being True to Your Tummy is published by Magination Press - an imprint of the American Psychological Association. The official release date is September 15, 2014. 

While not gluten specific, this is a tale that any kid with ANY kind of dietary limitations might relate to. It's based on my own experience growing up and figuring out how to deal. It doesn't matter that today, there are more options than there were in the 70's, or that food intolerance is more common. This is about approach, feelings and being human (even if told through the eyes of sheep!). 

I'll post more on Woolfred when officially released this fall. You'll find a link to the APA publishing site HERE, Amazon.com HERE and Amazon.ca HERE where it is available for pre-order. 


Serious Salads - Light Summer Meals for Hot Summer Nights

Summer is finally in full swing... after what seemed like the longest, hardest winter in memory. The farmer's markets are expanding from the meagre spring offerings to stalls filled with a wide selection of fruits and veggies, and our salads are improving with each week. 

We eat a lot of fresh veggies at our house... and started moving into fresh over cooked early in the season. After a winter of cooked greens, we started eating our kale raw. We started looking for ways to add crunch and zest to our plates.

A few tricks for keeping hot summer meals easy on week nights is to prep food on the weekend - often fresh from the market. First, I wash all of the greens and keep them covered in a bowl in the fridge. This means picking up a handful and placing it directly on a plate when I need it. I don't bother dressing greens anymore - instead I place a number of (often pre made & pre dressed) heartier salads on top of the undressed base of greens. 

I've tired of sloppy big green leaves and find myself preferring everything chopped small and fine. This makes for denser, crunchier salads. An added bonus is that these types of salads age, store and travel well too. Two important tools have been the mandolin slicer (for super fine slices of fennel or cabbage) and the grater - for carrots and beets.

Some salads store very well for a few days - bean salads (provided not too wet), slaws, and salads made from heartier veggies like fennel. I make a few salads at once, and rotate them over the next couple of days - and take them for lunch too. These dense salads make fantastic simple sides or dinner in and of themselves, particularly when one or more includes a form of protein like beans, nuts or cheese. Here is a sampling of some of our summer standards. I've included the classic caprese which requires little more than slicing a tomato. 

Carrot Beet Salad
Grate peeled organic beets and carrots
Add olive oil, apple cider vinegar and celery seed (optional).

Celeric Slaw (no image) 
Wash and peel celeriac root. Using a mandolin slicer make long thin strips of this crunchy white vegetable. Toss with finely chopped fresh parsley, a small amount of mayonnaise, dijon mustard and freshly ground black pepper. Celeric is available all year and makes an excellent winter side too!

Red Cabbage Slaw
Using a mandolin cut red cabbage on the finest slicer and then use the teeth to make thin crunchy strips of carrot. Toss with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and celery seed. You can use a knife and grater to make a less delicate looking, but just as tasty version of this salad. 

Black Bean & Radish
Rinse black beans until the water runs clear and place in a bowl. Add radishes chopped into little cubes about the same size as the beans and lots of chopped cilantro. Sprinkle a light dusting of cayenne pepper, a dollop of good olive oil and squeeze in the juice of a fresh lime.

Caprese Salad
Finely slice fresh tomatoes and assemble on a platter. Slice bocconcini (fresh baby mozzarella) and place on top. Add chopped fresh basil and dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Finish with a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Simple Arugula with Walnuts and Olives
Fresh baby arugula (or larger leaves chopped) with fresh walnuts (toasted or raw) and salt cured olives. Sprinkle good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a light sprinkle of salt. 

Pesto & Corn Potato Salad
mix fresh pesto (read labels on store bought pesto!),corn cut from roasted cobs, chopped fresh basil leaves, salt & pepper
and the tiniest fresh baby potatoes (boiled and cooled). 

For a post on a number of variations on potato salad click HERE.

If you're wondering what the heck this post has to do with "gluten-free"... well, absolutely nothing. In fact - there are so many good foods out there that have nothing to do with gluten... perhaps that is the point :). 

Winter is a season of pasta, and starchier comfort foods, but I've always found summer easier because fresh and lighter foods are more appealing when it's hot. 

May your summer be full of foods so fresh and delicious, that you think about abundance more than lack. Add a glass of chilled vino bianco and celebrate virtuous and easy summer meals!


Grain-free Muffins - Almond & Coconut Flour

I'm on day 38 of the specific carbohydrate diet. Ok - for 3 days I fell off the wagon (my birthday - and the two days following, because Lee baked delicious chocolate cupcakes and left 4 at my house!). I moved through them quickly in order to get back on the wagon :)

I'm not sure how much longer I'll stay on this diet, and I'm not recommending that others try it (unless the gluten-free diet isn't helping you manage all of your symptoms). It hasn't done much for mine, but I will say that my energy is much better, my mind feels clearer and I'm sleeping like a log. That, for now, is keeping me off the grains. The first 30 days, I stuck to the diet verbatim - but now I'm letting a few items like beans slip into my diet (I mean come on!!). 

Today, I baked using the SCD rule book for the first time. As usual, I made up my own ad hoc recipe (after cruising the net to get a sense or ratios using new flours). I came up with a super simple combo that led to delicious muffins that are high in protein and highly satisfying.

In a food processor with the paddle I put the wet ingredients in, pulsed and then the dry: 

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
4 eggs
1 small banana
1 cup ground almonds (with skins on)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup soaked and drained currents
1/8 cup dates chopped fine

Pour into muffin liners. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. This recipe made 8 muffins. 

Sending thanks to my Mum - who sent me home with these two new "flours" to try from her pantry. You can use almond flour (this was whole almonds ground with skins on). When you bake with almonds the whole house is lovely and fragrant.

Coconut flour requires plenty of liquid (eggs, fruit or other) as it absorbs like a sponge. These turned out wonderfully - but I'll likely keep experimenting to keep it fresh. 

I'm kind of stuck on my chickpea flour (forbidden on the SCD diet)...and also a great high protein/fibre alternative. You can read more about my super easy and forgiving muffin making technique HERE. I've also written about muffins with ricotta cheese, which can be found HERE

If there's a drawback to almond flour - it's the price. That said, a muffin is no longer a muffin but an extremely satiating food item that provides hours of energy. Almond flour doesn't have a long shelf life so - buy as needed and keep it in the fridge. Some might consider another drawback the fat content - but I'm a big fan of healthy oils and believe that they do the body good. 

When I start introducing grains back into my diet, almond and coconut flour will certainly add some new flavour, texture and variety to my repertoire!