Friday, August 30, 2013

Hashimotos and Food- On managing my brand new auto-immune disorder

Hey folks-
So a little detour from the usual recipes, but this all relates to food.

As you may or may not know, I have been on a terribly restricted diet for the past few months while I wait for my young son to outgrow his colic and allow his digestive system to develop. Though the list of forbidden food is much longer, the key features of this diet are the total absence of wheat, diary, corn and soy. As you may guess, this is pretty limiting. Anyone out there with allergies or other dietary limitations knows what I am talking about and has my deepest sympathies.

So I have been telling myself is that this diet is only for a small time and ultimately I will again be able to eat whatever I want.

If ever there was a set up.......

It turns out I have Hashimotos Thyroiditis. This is an auto-immune disease where your body sends out antibodies to attack your thyroid. This is not good. Symptoms/complications include weight gain, hair loss, depression, sleep disorders, infertility and suppressed immunity. Thus far I have been lucky enough to remain asymptomatic, but I do not have the option of ignoring this disease. Lucky for me, unlike AIDS or other auto-immune diseases, this is one that can be managed with minimal medication if I am very careful about- you guessed it- what I eat.

A friend of mine recently sent me an article discussing the relationship between diet, chronic inflammation and depression. Diet directly contributes to chronic inflammation and the key problem foods are wheat, diary, corn and soy. Environmental toxins also play a part in this, but diet also contributes to our ability to cope with these toxins. Chronic inflammation has a whole host of bad things associated with it, among them are cancer, heart disease, depression and, you guessed again, hashimotos.

In short, there are not a lot of croissants in my future. On the upside, nothing but my baby screaming for hours would have possessed me to give up cheese. On the downside, it looks like the list of forbidden food is more of a lifestyle necessity for me now.

I occasionally get very depressed thinking about the disaster that is currently our society's food system/environment/health picture. Even worse, it would now seem I am a victim of this dysfunction. Though I am also coming to the conclusion that ultimately this toxic system will collapse, if for no other reason than that it kills everyone who participates. But I don't want to be one of the casualties.

SO- my life and diet are shifting to accommodate these changes and with it, the focus of my food blogging. The criteria is no longer just delicious, organic and local, it has now come to include sustainable on a very personal level. This is food that will keep me and you alive and well in the midst of more vulnerability than humanity has likely coped with before. This is food as a big and victorious fuck you to our destructive system of agriculture, food processing and health care. My revolution will not be televised, it will be served one meal at a time.

Kent and Odette's Oatsotto

Yeah, none of the tags are going to work for this.....
What is Oatsotto you ask?

Oatsotto is the delicious oat based savory herbed grain accompaniment that I enjoyed for dinner last night. Think of it as risotto, but without the arsenic. That's right folks, arsenic. Read the linked article, or don't, but take it easy on the rice until there is more info.

ANYHOW- My wonderful brother and I made oatsotto for dinner last night, and it was amazing.
I'm sorry there isn't a picture, but oatsotto deserves a better photographer than I to make it look as good as it tastes.

Steel cut oats are good for many reasons (more fiber, texture, oatyness, and minerals), but most importantly because they have enough texture not to turn into the dreaded oatmeal glop from many of our youths. The texture and neutral flavor is what makes oats ideal for savory or sweet dishes.

If your not sold on the novelty yet, imagine the comforting carbohydrate warmth of risotto with a little more nubbles, rich chicken stock and savory rosemary permeating every bite. Sprinkled with a little pecorino or nesting a poached egg, this is a super satisfying one dish meal you can do pretty much anything with. Yay!

You will need:
1 Cup Organic Steel cut oats
3(ish) Cups warm chicken stock
1-2 Tbs Fresh chopped rosemary
Any veggies you might like: onions, mushrooms, carrots, peas or zucchini are all good options. One word of warning: DO NOT be tempted to add garlic, it tastes terrible with oats.

To make:
First, saute any veggies you will be adding and set them aside. In a medium (4-6 cup) saucepan mix the oats with one cup stock and half the rosemary, bring to a simmer and stir regularly. As the liquid evaporates, add more stock, continuing to stir and simmer until your oats reach the texture of risotto and are tender to the tooth. Stir in your veggies and remaining rosemary to taste along with a generous pinch of salt. Serve with plenty of salt and pepper along with your toppings of choice. My brother like poached eggs, my husband likes bacon.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Fudge or Frosting

I have a confession to make. I found a recipe for chocolate buttercream frosting, doctored it so I could eat it, and have been eating it by the spoonful ever since.

My only justification is that I can't eat any of the other goodies I would normally indulge in.
Oh, and it tastes AMAZING!

So here you have it, my recipe for chocolate buttercream frosting, which contains neither butter nor cream. I keep it in the fridge and eat it like fudge, in cubes or by the spoonful. It has a very mild coconut element to it, but I really don't like coconut so I have worked to minimize or complement the flavor as much as possible. Obviously it isn't that strong or I wouldn't be making myself sick on it.

This recepie makes 6oz of frosting.

You will need:

4oz RAW Coconut oil, room temperature (Make sure it is raw, this is very important to the flavor, as toasted coconut oil has a much stronger flavor and cannot be subdued.)
2Tbs Full fat unsweetened coconut milk, room temperature
1/3 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4- 1 Cup powdered sugar
1 1/5 Tbs Vanilla (use the real stuff, its sooooooo worth it)
1/4 Tsp Smoked Salt (normal salt will do, but doesn't smooth out the coconut as well)

To make:
Coconut oil gets soft/liquidy at about 70 degrees, so you want to be sure it is warm enough to have the consistency of soft butter, but not be liquefied. Put it in a bowl and whip it with a fork or whisk. I prefer fork, you lose less.
Measure the cocoa powder and powdered sugar into a sieve, and sift into the bowl with the coconut oil. Incorporate it with your fork or whisk. It will be pasty and dry, but don't lose hope.
Once the oil and powder have been blended, add the coconut milk and vanilla, and blend vigorously until smooth. If you would like stiffer frosting/fudge, add more sugar. Once you have the desired consistency (creamy, delicious and irresistible), add your salt and blend in. More salt can be added to taste, but don't get carried away; there is no way to undo too much but to make more frosting.
Use immediately for frosting, or smooth in pan lined with parchment paper to make fudge. Place in fridge and cut when stiff. I like mine with a little extra smoked salt sprinkled on, but maybe that's a Seattle thing.

Super YUM.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Coconut Oats with Apricots (and galactagogues!!)

One of the perks (?) of lactation is that you are pretty much always eating.
The question is, are you eating things that are good for making milk and nurishing mom and baby? My Naturopath says eat an avocado and/or coconut milk EVERY DAY. You'd be amazed how fast that gets old. Whats the point of guac without chips or garlic?? The trick is finding how to work things in.

Which brings us to my breakfast most mornings, steel cut oats made with coconut milk and finished (in this case) with fresh apricots and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Coconut milk gets a lovely floral sweet flavor when cooked, and loses a lot of its tropical coconut flavor (which I don't really appreciate anyway). The fats in coconut milk are incredibly good for moms and babies, helping to build hormone supplies, add body mass and promote breast health.
Who knew??
Meanwhile oats are terribly good for you and are on the list of galatagogue foods which bring up milk supply. The maple syrup adds a mineral note that keeps the whole thing from becoming too rich or sweet.

You will need:
1/3 Cup steel cut oats. Get the real thing, don't use instant or rolled, it will be gross.
1/2 Can unsweetened organic full fat coconut milk. (About 6.5 oz.)
1/4 Cup water
Fresh fruit and syrup to taste.

Combine the coconut milk, water and oats in a sauce pan and put on medium low heat to simmer. Allow to cook gently for about 30-45 minutes while you take a shower, get dressed, feed and change the baby, and do anything else you might need to accomplish so you can eat breakfast in peace for a few minutes. Stir it when you remember, but I usually only get there once or twice. Add more water if you prefer your oats more tender. It's done when (surprisingly) it has cooked down to the consistancy of oatmeal.

Put in bowl, add fruit and syrup. Super YUM.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Marriage, Baby and now Colic. Oh, and the besy soy free teriyaki you've ever had.

That's right folks- got hitched and had a baby who arrived 7 weeks ago. Instead of food, you get a baby pic this time!

Roo (the baby) is amazing, and everything I could have wanted. But we are both pretty sad about food, which is what got me posting again. Him, because his little belly is all twisted in colicky knots, and me because I am now in the elimination diet to end all elimination diets.
What do you eat in the U.S. when you cannot have:
Diary (except eggs and butter THANK GOD)
Soy (soy lecithin is in everything!)
And probably shouldn't eat nuts.
 ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? I cried in frustration over breakfast this morning.

But I am trying to see this as a challenge to my culinary genius instead of limiting me to never eating out for the next however long. Thus I present you with the victory for the weekend, my soy/garlic/MSG free teriyaki sauce that tastes as good as anything I've ever had in Seattle. And Seattle knows their teriyaki.

You will need:
1/2 Cup amino acids like Braggs, or in my case Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
3-6 shakes Ume Plum Vinegar
Splash (in my case several) Rice wine vinegar
Large knob of fresh Ginger, grated.

Combine all of this in a jar or  container with a lid, and shake vigorously. Taste test to see if you want more vinegar or sugar. Cook your teriyaki veggies or meat about half way, then throw 2/3 of the sauce you just made into the pan, turn up the heat and allow to bubble down until syrupy. Should take less than 5 min.

Super YUM

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Immigrant Onion Soup

Its my version of French Onion Soup- and though it does have wine in it, as any respectable French soup should, I am sure the chefs at the Cordon Bleu would not appreciate my attempt to hijack such a prestigious soup tradition. And I'm Irish.

This is a robust onion soup that veers closer to a stew. Warm and savory to a point that borders on medicinal, it is the only way to survive the cold evenings of November here is the Northwest. Instead of the classic bread and cheese on top- which is also incredibly tasty, I serve mine in a bowl with mashed potatoes and carrots. It fills out the meal and can make it vegan friendly if you like.

This recipe serves 4. Keep in mind that it takes about 2 hours to prepare. It's totally worth it.

You Will Need:
5 Large onions, cut in half and sliced
1 Clove garlic, grated or minced.
1Tbs Sugar
3 cups beef or vegetable stock.
2ish Cups extra hot water
Splash white wine
Tbs Butter
Pinch each of Rosemary, Ginger, Smoked Paprika, Sage. This is one recipe where dry herbs consistently work better.
Salt (Maybe, depending on our stock)

For the Potatoes:
6 Yukon Gold or other Yellow Potato
2 Large Carrots
2+ Tbs Butter
Scant 1/4 Cup Cream
Vegan Potato melding fat of your choice.

To Make:
Place all the sliced onions in a big soup pot with the butter and sugar. Let them cook down over medium high heat, regularly stirring and being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot very thoroughly. You want to do this until its really, really brown. Keep stirring, more often as things get browner. It is done when it reaches a dark mahogany  or coffee color. Add your beef or veggie stock, white wine, herbs and garlic. Let simmer while the flavors get to know each other and you cook your potatoes and carrots.

Quarter your potatoes into chunks, place in a pot and cover with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. while you wait for it to boil clean and chop your carrots into large chunks. When the potatoes are just beginning to get tender add the carrots in and allow both to cook to mashable consistency. Drain, return to pot and mash. Add your diary or vegan fat of choice and salt/pepper to taste.

Check your soup, adding water or seasonings as needed- I often add a dash of Cayenne just at the end.
Settle a good spoonful of potatoes into a bowl and ladle soup on top, Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Greens and Fennel Gratin

So I just Googled Greens Gratin and there are roughly a million recipes out there. But mine has fennel, and its the best, so you should try it anyway.
I actually owe the basis of this recipe to the Winter 2009 edition of Edible Seattle and the stunning recipe for Greens Gratin with Sausage they have in there. You should make that one too.

Imagine everything that is lovely about a gratin: rich, creamy, cheese laden and comforting, plus more flavor and better for you than potatoes alone. That's Greens Gratin with Fennel. I make this year round and everyone demands the recipe.

Greens Gratin with Fennel and Maybe Sausage

You Will Need:
1 Bunch each of  Dino Kale, Collard Greens, Kale and Chard. Cleaned, de-stemmed and chopped large. You will have way more than you think you can possibly eat, but they cook down.
1 Fennel Bulb, trimmed and sliced
1 Italian Sausage if your into that
Olive Oil
1 Cup Chicken Stock (OR if you prefer no stock, add a splash of Soy sauce and a pinch of curry powder to your greens once steamed. Trust me, its amazing.)
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 1/2 to 2 cups grated cheese. Swiss and Cheddar or Jack make a great combo
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Egg
1-2 Tbs Flour
1-2 Tsp Italian Herb seasoning blend. Or a few sprigs each of fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Oregano are even better.

To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 and then get a big pot with a lid. Seriously, the biggest pot you own. Heat to medium-high and add a generous bit of butter and the onions and fennel. Stir while cooking for a minute or so until the onions begin to go clear. Add the sausage if your into that, and cook until done, letting it brown on the bottom of the pot. Remove from pot and set the onions, fennel and sausage aside in a bowl. Return the pot to  heat and add a drizzle of Olive Oil to the pot when its hot. Add greens to the pot until its about half full, stirring as they cook. Add a few Tbs of the chicken stock and cover. You can use water if you prefer no stock. Repeat, adding greens and stock/water until they are all cooked down. Don't go crazy with the stock because you will want too cook off the excess liquid at the end. Once the greens are tender remove the lid and turn up the heat, stirring consistently until the extra liquid is gone. Now is the time to add the soy sauce/curry powder if you have not used stock. Sift in the flour and stir to coat the leaves, then stir in the herbs, onion, fennel and sausage. Stir in grated cheese.

Remove from pot and pile greens etc. onto a buttered pie plate. Whisk your egg and cream together and then drizzle evenly onto the greens and add some pepper to the top. Bake until lightly browned and bubbly, usually 30 minutes.

Super YUM.