Monday, July 14, 2014

Chana Masala (Dairy, Gluten and MSG Free)

I have been craving Indian food and figured it was time I made a good dish of my own.   My sister was over this weekend and gave me a few suggestions as to what she puts in her curry dishes.  I am a big fan of chickpeas so I made mine into a chana masala.   I was able to alter one I have been working on and am very pleased with the results.  This recipe can definitely be adapted in terms of spices.  I would have preferred a little more heat but that would not have gone over well with the girls ;)  We have made this dish already a couple times and it has been enjoyed by all.
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 2 cups water or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 minced onion
  • 2 minced cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (red dye free)
  • chili and/or cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1 cup chopped kale or spinach
  • 1 limed juiced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro

Directions
  1. Place cashews blender with coconut milk or water and puree until smooth.  Set aside
  2. In a large wok or frying pan heat oil.
  3. Fry onions until soft and add garlic, coriander, cumin, curry, garam masala, chili powder/cayenne and fry another minute to bring our flavours.
  4. Add tomato paste, sea salt, diced tomato, pureed cashews, chickpeas, diced tomato and kale/spinach.
  5. Cook until bubbling and then simmer for 5 minutes.  Stirring frequently.
  6. When ready to serve stir in lime juice and cilantro.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baked Chicken, Spinach and Mushroom Pasta (Gluten and MSG Free with a Diary Free Option)

This is a pretty simple dish that can be arranged ahead of time and then baked when needed.  If using rice pasta, I would not bake too far in advance as the pasta can get hard if left too long in the fridge.  I have used this casserole as a way to use up some left over chicken and other vegetables I have on hand.

Ingredients
  • 16 oz uncooked rice pasta (I like to use Tinkyada)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 minced cloves garlic
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2-3 cups cubed chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 1 can organic tomato paste
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil or 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 cups diced mushrooms
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1-11/2 cups shredded cheese or daiya cheese
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large pot cook pasta according to directions and place in a large oven safe deep dish. (I used a large corningware dish.)
  3. In a large wok, or pot heat oil and saute onions until translucent.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.
  4. Add tomato paste, basil, chili powder, mushrooms, salt and pepper.  Cook until bubbling and bring down to medium-low heat.  
  5. Stir in spinach.
  6. Pour onto pasta.
  7. Cover with shredded cheese (daiya) if desired.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.



Thursday, July 03, 2014

Strawberry Jam (Pectin Free, Refined Sugar Free, Colour Free and Gelatin Free)

I always have a hard time finding jam that doesn't contain sugar, pectin, colour or gelatin.  After a huge mess and a few batches later, I am happy with the results.  This jam is not too sweet, tastes like strawberries and has a smooth consistency.
Ingredients (makes approximately 2 cups)

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 8-10 dates
  • 1/2 tablespoon psyllium husk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch sea salt

Directions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, of if you prefer some strawberry pieces then leave some or all strawberries out.  
  2. Add all ingredients into a medium size pot. 
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and cook for another 10-15 minutes until some liquid has been reduced.  Jam will thicken as it cools.
  4. Transfer to a hot sterile jar, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch space and seal.  Turn jar upside down and place in fridge or a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Protein Bars (Dairy, Egg, Gluten and Refined Sugar Free)

My girls don't love protein powder in their shakes so I figured I would try other ways to use it. These bars were a hit as a snack or breakfast food.  They have lots of protein for energy and will keep you full.  I am adding these to my list of good camping foods for the summer.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut/seed butter
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup ground pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup protein powder or protein powder


Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Place in an 8x8 or 8x6 pan and pat down.
  3. Place in refrigerator to harden for at least 1 hour.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Eczema, Allergies and Diet

I have never really struggled with eczema until this past year.  This winter my hands started to show signs of eczema.  They were dry, itch and red.  It really came on around Christmas so I kind of thought it might be related to an increase in chocolate (as it is my weakness) as well as the dry weather.
 This is my hand on a "not so bad day," unfortunately I didn't get a photo of flare-up

 It wasn't until we recently took our oldest daughter to the naturopath and mentioned her dry hands that she told us, dry skin on hands is often related to eggs but of course could be another food. Of course... why didn't I think of this?  I know dairy often causes eczema but I forgot about eggs. Needless to say, for the last three weeks I have been very strict with eggs at home.  Our oldest has had a huge improvement on her skin and so have I.

Eczema is typically a reaction to a food allergy or intolerance.  The main food culprits are eggs, citrus, dairy and corn, however there are others.  We don't have a lot of dairy or corn at home and I know egg whites are on some of our food intolerance lists, so why I didn't put this together? I don't know.  You live and learn I guess.  So I am sharing my experience with you.  Eczema is not fun, it can be hard to get rid of but instead of using topical creams etc. consider looking into your diet perhaps you are eating something your body does not tolerate well.