Live From the Ancestral Health Symposium

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I have definitely been a negligent blogger this summer spending every possible moment enjoying my little ones before school starts up next month.  I’ve also officially begun taking nutrition classes so a lot of my blogging time is spent studying these days (and nights).  This weekend I’m taking some time for myself (OK it’s nutrition related…but that’s what I love) and I hope to be able to share it with you as I blog and tweet live from the Ancestral Health Symposium here in beautiful Cambridge, MA.

So here I am, part of a community of scientists, health professionals and celebrity bloggers all on the same real food mission.  It’s inspirational, motivating and at times comical.  Like this morning at the coffee shop when the barista said, “A lot of folks have been ordering their sandwiches without bread…is there a convention or something?”.  It’s not just a convention honey…it’s a movement and our motto is “Bacon is rad, gluten is bad.”

More to come…
Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Paleo Granola Bars

Granola bars are another one of those things that sound healthier than they usually are.  A quick label inspection usually shows way more soy and sugar than I’m comfortable feeding my little people on a regular basis.   And if you are sensitive to gluten, grains or dairy…forget about it!

Here is a kid tested “granola bar” recipe that is sure to please the most discerning palates!

You can do better than that!

INGREDIENTS:
2 C raw sunflower seeds
2 C raw pumpkin seeds
15 – 20 dates with pits removed
3/4 C raisins
3/4 C shredded coconut
1 TBS vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
maple syrup (optional)

PREPARATION:
Soak the seeds in filtered water with 1 TBS Celtic sea salt for about 8 hours or overnight.  In a separate container soak the dates in warm filtered water for about an hour.  In a food processor, puree the soaked dates along with the vanilla and cinnamon until they form a paste.  Drain the water from the seeds.  You’ll probably have about 6 cups of seeds now.  In a large bowl, mix the seeds with the date paste, raisins and coconut.  Taste test for sweetness.  If you feel it’s not sweet enough add a little bit of pure maple syrup.  Really a TBS should be plenty as dates are super sweet.  Now return everything to the food processor and pulse until it is granola consistency.  You may need to do it in a couple of batches.  Now spread out the mixture onto several non-stick dehydrator sheets or a parchment lined baking sheet.  If using the dehydrator, set it to 115° and let it run for about 24 hours until crispy.  If you don’t have a dehydrator put them in the oven on the convection setting at 150° for 12 hours or until crispy.  You will lose some of the enzymes with this method, but it will still be a yummy treat!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Eating With the Season: Bok Choy & Shrimp Stir Fry

Bok choy (also called Chinese cabbage) is another veggie you might be seeing around town a lot these days.  “Like its other cruciferous cousins, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and mustard greens, bok choy is not only an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fiber, but also contains the precursors for unique sulfur-containing phytonutrients, such as indole-3-carbinole (I3C) and sulforaphane, which are produced as a result of cutting, chewing or digesting cabbage.  Cabbage’s sulfur compounds help activate and stabilize the body’s antioxidant and detoxification mechanisms, and, increase the liver’s ability to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially toxic substances.”  (source)

If you’ve never cooked bok choy, don’t be intimidated by the name.  It’s easy and tasty!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head bok choy
  • 8 oz Shiitaki mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 1/2 C carrots, shredded
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBS fish sauce
  • 1 TBS soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 TBS Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red pepper sauce
  • 1 lb shrimp

PREPARATION:

  1. Trim off the ends of the bok choy and chop, keeping the white parts separate from the green as they will need to cook longer. Rinse and spin or pat dry. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl or cup stir together the water, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, curry paste and red pepper sauce. Set this aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy stems and carrots first; stir fry for a few minutes or until the stems start to turn a pale green. Then add the mushrooms and stir fry for a couple of minutes more.  When stems are almost cooked, add the leaves and sauce; cook and stir until leaves are just wilted and sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Steam the shrimp and add it to the veggies or serve separately. 

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This post was shared on Fight Back Friday with Food Renegade.

Paleo Pasta

Here is a great raw food recipe that is paleo and GAPS legal as well.  Great as a side or as the main dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 zucchinis, shredded
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • handful of fresh, organic basil leaves
  • large pinch of salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1, 8.5 oz. jar of sun dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil*
  • 1 pint of organic grape tomatoes**
  • salt and pepper
  • raw pine nuts or sunflower seeds (optional)
  • dried mushrooms (optional)

PREPARATION
Shred the zucchini using the shredding blade of the food processor or a handheld cheese grater and put it in a large bowl.  Using the chopping blade of the food processor combine the garlic, basil, salt and lemon and process until smooth-ish (think pesto).  Throw in about 1/2 – 2/3 of the pint of tomatoes and the entire jar of sun dried tomatoes with oil and process a bit longer.  It will be a bit chunky now (think marinara).  Mix it in with the zucchini and salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with the remaining grape tomatoes (sliced in half) and fresh basil leave.  When serving, top with nuts or seeds and dried mushrooms.

*Trader Joe’s has a nice jar of sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil that are already julienne cut, but you could substitute your own sun dried tomatoes and add about 1/4 – 1/3 C olive oil if they are not already packed in oil.

**Tomatoes are a heavily treated crop, so if you have to make decisions about when to buy organic produce, organic tomatoes are a good bang for your buck.  During tomato season you could definitely substitute fresh garden tomatoes for the grape tomatoes.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Savory Favorites

This post is part of a weekly series in which I  give ideas for eating off the grid.  In other words…fringe eating.  It is also a REAL food challenge and my first GIVEAWAY!  See last Wednesday’s post for all of the giveaway details.  This post was supposed to be part of my Snacking Without Barcodes series but I ran out of days that week.  So many snacks, so little time!  With two toddlers, we do a lot of snacking in this house!  So here are some ideas for when sweet treats just won’t cut it and you need a good dose of salt!


CRACKERS

Crackers are a staple with kids and adults alike, but it is super hard to find a box of these savory  favorites that doesn’t include some unsavory ingredients.  Here is one of our favorite cracker recipes adapted from Nourished and Nurtured to make them not only grain and dairy free, but also nut free (sort of, though some are allergic to pine nuts, it’s rare and they are tolerated well in my house unlike other nuts).

  • One large roasted red bell pepper (in a pinch TJs sells some in a jar)
  • 1 C *crispy pine nuts (in a pinch you can buy the toasted ones)
  • 2  TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (or 2 tsp fresh)
  • 3 cloves garlic (pressed)
  • 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt

Roast & skin the red pepper and remove seeds.  Press the garlic unless you know that your processor will “find” it.  (If I don’t press it first, it often comes out in a big piece.)  Put all of the ingredients into the food processor and process until smooth.  Spread out to about a 1/4″ thickness onto one or more dehydrator sheets and put into the dehydrator (I highly recommend the Excalibur 3900) for 12 – 24 hours at 155°.  You can turn the sheet over at the halfway point by laying another dehydrator sheet and tray on top and “sandwiching” the crackers while you do a super stealthy flip!  This will help them to dry more evenly.  When they are finished break them into random shapes and sizes and top with your other savory favorites!

* Simply soak raw nuts or seeds 12 hours or overnight in filtered water with 1 TBS of Celtic sea salt.  Then put them on a baking sheet and “dehydrate” them at 150°.  If your oven doesn’t go this low just set it to the lowest temperature.  Mine only goes down to 170° and that has worked fine for me in the past.  If you have a dehydrator even better!  Put the nuts or seeds on the dehydrator sheets and set it to 150°.  Dehydrate for 12 hours or overnight.

POPCORN

Sometimes the simplest snack solutions escape us, but never underestimate the power of popcorn to please the masses!  I recommend getting a Whirley Pop popper if you don’t already have one.  I know air poppers are great but they don’t allow you to add the secret ingredients that supercharge this simple snack…grassfed butter or coconut oil!

  • 3 TBS coconut oil or grassfed butter
  • 1/2 C non GMO popcorn kernels
  • seasoning

Melt your butter or oil in the popper and add the kernels and then follow the instructions for your popper.  Top with the seasonings of your choice.  Some of our favorites are salt, garlic salt, cayenne, cinnamon and crumbled kale chips.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This recipe is part of Real Food Wednesdays with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Mom’s Deviled Eggs

Happy Easter Everyone!  I hope you had a fun filled Sunday.  We got to spend the morning flying kites and playing in the sand at Bethany Beach, but not before the time honored Easter Egg Hunt which now has many of us asking, “What am I going to do with all of these hard boiled eggs?”  Here is a great recipe that everyone loves.  I’ve had more than one person tell me that these are the only deviled eggs that they’ve ever liked and I know the reason why.  It has a secret ingredient that no one can resist…bacon!  It’s a known fact in my house that “bacon makes everything better” and I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re not the only family with this mantra.
 
This recipe is a slight modification of my mom’s deviled eggs, which were the hit of every picnic and party.  So if you have some extra eggs and about 20 minutes give these a try.  If you want to multitask have bacon with tomorrow’s breakfast and reserve 6 pieces for these…and by reserve I mean hide.

INGREDIENTS
8 hard boiled eggs
3 TBS mayo
1/8 – 1/4 onion
3 – 4 TBS pickle (lacto fermented if you have them)
1/2 tsp celery seed
6 slices uncured bacon (cooked)
paprika
parsley (optional)

Peel the eggs and slice them in half.  Pop out the yolks into a bowl and mash coarsely with a fork.  Arrange the egg whites onto a platter or egg tray.  Process the onions, pickle and bacon individually in a food processor or chopper and add them to the yolks along with the mayo and celery seed.  Use a hand mixer to mix all ingredients until smooth and a bit fluffy.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the yolk mixture into a pastry bag or Ziploc baggie.  If you are using a baggie, press the air out, seal it and cut the tip off in a diagonal or an X.  If you want to get fancy, here is a tutorial on how to make a pastry bag from common household items.  Squeeze the yolk mixture into the egg whites and sprinkle with paprika.  Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Snacking Without Barcodes: Sweet Treats

We all need a sweet treat now and then.  Even though I spent last week posting about how “evil” sugar is, I never said that we don’t indulge in the occasional sugar bomb.  We try to make it the exception instead of the rule.  Constant deprivation is no way to live and it rarely works in the long run, but if you plan ahead you can definitely catch those cravings before you end up at the 7-11 with a bag of M&Ms in hand.   These coconut macaroons are so easy and they make a good size batch.  The best part is they can be frozen so you can have them on hand in case of a sweet tooth emergency.

COCONUT MACAROONS

  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1/3 C honey (warmed to liquify)
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 2 C shredded, unsweetened coconut

Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form and then drizzle in vanilla and honey while continuing to beat.  It may lose a little body.  Then gently fold in the coconut.  Again, you might lose a little body, but it should still be pretty firm.  Drop small teaspoon size balls onto your baking or dehydrator sheet.  Dehydrate at 150° for about 20 hours.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can simulate this in your oven at the lowest possible temperature.

If you can’t handle waiting 20 hours you can bake them at 300° for half an hour, then 200° for an additional hour.  Just watch them so that they don’t get too brown.  I don’t like them quite as much this way, but they are still very good.

NOTE:  If you use egg yolks in your super smoothies, save the eggs whites in a glass jar in the fridge.  As long as no yolk gets in they will last quite a while.

OTHER SWEET TREATS:

Remember the key here is convenience.  Make these in advance and in bulk and package them in small containers or baggies for quick snacks.  Less is more.  Use mini muffin tins and drop small cookies onto the baking sheet so you have snack size portions.  You don’t have to eat them all now…freeze some for later.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

You Haven’t Tried Kale Chips…

Until you’ve given these kale chips a try, you haven’t lived.  These are so good that you’ll swear that they are junk food but not only are they a superfood, they are dehydrated at a low temperature so the enzymes are retained.  Remember, eating raw foods helps prevent chronic leukocytosis and the health problems that may accompany this condition.

Mine just came out of the dehydrator this morning and they’re almost gone.  I did give some away to a friend who said they tasted like chips with queso.  The kids love them too!

This recipe is dairy free, gluten free & nut free!  It works great in a dehydrator but if you don’t have one set your oven to the lowest possible temperature and put it on the convection setting if you have that option.  You can also prop the oven door open a bit so that it stays cooler.  The optimal temperature to dehydrate these is 115° but before I got my dehydrator I did them in the oven as described above at 170° and they turned out great.  Be aware that you will lose the enzymes this way, so while still yummy, they are not “raw.”

Queso Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 bunches of kale, washed, dried, and torn from the stems (chip sized pieces)
  • 1 cup pine nuts, soaked overnight in salt water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 of a medium red bell pepper coarsely chopped into  5 or 6 pieces
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp of Celtic salt (I like it a bit more salty)
  • pinch or more of cayenne pepper (optional)
Preparation:
  1. Add all ingredients expect the kale to a high powered blender or food processor. Process until you get a smooth consistency.
  2. Massage sauce onto kale with hands for about 2 minutes until really coated.
  3. Lay out onto lined dehydrator trays or onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Dehydrate at 115° until crispy (12+ hours) or as described above if you don’t have a dehydrator.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Don’t Be a Party Pooper!

As I’ve mentioned before I’m flexible about what my kids eat at parties and on special occasions. These are good opportunities for kids to learn that some foods are treats to be enjoyed on special occasions.  It’s also a good time for them to take notice of how these foods make them feel.  But today I had to be that weird mom who brings her own food to the party.   Why?  Well, I mentioned in an earlier post that it had been a crazy week.  Here’ s the story…

On Tuesday morning I began to see a few hives on my youngest daughter. Within 90 minutes it looked like this (left)…

By the end of the day she was completely covered (middle), and by the next morning it had morphed into one giant hive covering her entire body (right).  I’d never seen anything like it.  Because there were no other symptoms our doc was pretty sure it was an allergic reaction and a pretty extreme one.  So of course we began racking our brains trying to figure out what was new or different.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it was a reaction to something environmental.  We have an appointment with an allergist later this week, but in the meantime we are avoiding dairy and wheat because that’s what she had for breakfast that morning and the hives began right after breakfast. Yes, she’s had wheat and dairy many times before but that’s the scary thing about allergies, they can begin at any time and without any warning.  We have a family history of food allergies and we already know she has a nut allergy.  So I’m not overreacting…really.  The risk just isn’t worth it until we find out what’s going on.

Anyway, to add to this challenge we were faced with a birthday party this weekend so I was eager to come up with some party food that we could substitute for the usual cake and ice cream.  So here’s my wheat and dairy free cupcakes and ice cream.  I’m only eating what she eats until we have this figured out so I can tell you that these were actually really good.  I thought for sure she would ask for a piece of the “real” cake but she never did!  And that’s saying something.

Wheat & Dairy Free Coconut Cupcakes

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 C coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 TBS honey (melted)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C coconut flour

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Spoon into muffin tins or cupcake wrappers and smooth off the top.  Bake at 300 for about 20 minutes or until cooked through (check with a toothpick or knife).

Coconut Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 4 TBS tapioca starch
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder

Melt the honey and coconut oil on low heat and then add the other ingredients and whisk until smooth.  It may seem to separate and have weird texture, but don’t worry.  Remove from the heat and mix with a hand mixer or immersion blender.  If it’s still a strange texture let it cool a bit in the fridge and then mix it again.  It will thicken I promise.  Now let it rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before you ice the cupcakes.

Dairy Free Ice Cream

  • 3 very ripe bananas (peeled, broken into pieces and frozen)
  • 1 C frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in a heavy duty blender (a Vitamix works great) or food processor and blend until smooth.  Either eat immediately or stick it in a covered dish and freeze it. Take the ice cream out of the freezer and allow it to soften for about 10 – 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat it.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This post was shared at Food Renegade Fight Back Friday, March 23rd.

Caveman Cupcakes…and a Cry for Unity

I have it on good authority that cavemen ate cupcakes by the dozen.  In fact the current cupcake craze is a direct result of their insatiable appetite for these very cupcakes.  OK, I’m making that up.  But if they did eat cupcakes…it would be these!

Gluten free & dairy free, these are amazingly tasty and filling and they definitely curb some of those carb and sugar cravings that creep up.

If you like this recipe you may want to check out  Chris Kresser’s Paleo Meal Plan Generator.  It has been a great source of recipes for our family.  Because Chris has a unique approach to “Paleo” some of the recipes include dairy or properly prepared grains & legumes but you always have the option of excluding these ingredients (as well as others).  If you are not familiar with Chris Kresser, you should read his take on Paleo, which he refers to as “Beyond Paleo” or a Paleo template.  It really encourages common sense and honors biochemical individuality.  If Weston A. Price and Wilma Flintstone had a lovechild, this is how she would eat!

So the purists among you might not like this merger, but I encourage you to check it out and keep an open mind. Those of us following ancestral diets all have a common goal: to eat better and to feel better.  And we all know how tough this can be at times. (I had an especially frustrating airport moment recently!)  I find it amusing when practitioners of similar dietary theories bicker about the little details.  We are all on the same team and recent events put our food freedom at risk!  Turning our backs on processed and factory food is starting to get noticed and it’s starting to scare people…people who stand to lose money.  So let’s stick together here and start demanding quality food of all kinds, in all places!

So, I know cavemen probably didn’t eat cupcakes, but they also didn’t use cell phones or cars or kettlebells.  We adapt and we make allowances for the world in which we live.  After all…one caveman’s food is another caveman’s poison.

A very kid friendly recipe…to make and to eat!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April