Tag Archives: gluten free

What’s So Special About Sauerkraut?

I don’t know about you, but I grew up on southern food which included coffee so strong it would “make you grow chest hair” (as my daddy put it), buttermilk biscuits (YUM!), fried foods like chicken, and desserts like Coconut Cake, Coconut Cream Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie. Oh, and that’s not all. Summer time meant ice cream, ice pops and snowcones, and getting not only a Bismark doughnut to munch on in the grocery store to keep me quiet while my mama shopped (like a white glazed doughnut with a thick cream down the center…looked a bit like a hotdog bun only MUCH tastier!), but candy at the checkout. The holidays brought all kinds of yummy baked goods like Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie (my favorite), Divinity Candy, Fudge, cookies, cakes and brownies GALORE. I didn’t much care for vegetables growing up and wasn’t forced to eat them, although I DID have to at least try them before deciding not to eat them. Oh, I can’t forget the most important thing to us southerners: SWEET ICED TEA! And I’m not talking about tea sweetened with enough sugar to make it taste delicious, it was basically tea flavored sugar water! Times haven’t changed, either. Although now when you go to a restaurant or buy tea premade in the grocery store, you’re buying tea that is sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which has very recently been changed to just Fructose, or Fructose Syrup. Unless you read and do your research, you may think “hey, doesn’t fructose come from fruit?” Yes, and this is Big Ag’s way of fooling the public while continuing to poison us. Always be on your guard!

In that vein, there ARE ways you can counteract these foods. First of all, STOP EATING PROCESSED FOODS! If it has more than 3 ingredients (actually, should eat whole food that is just ONE ingredient), particularly ingredients you can’t pronounce, then DON’T EAT IT. Secondly, fermented foods. Preferably homemade fermented foods. When you buy fermented food at the store, it is ALWAYS pasteurized. Yogurt is pasteurized (and I have a hard time eating pasteurized food…always wind up with severe gastrointestinal pain), Kefir is pasteurized and pickles (if you can even find some that are actually lacto-fermented in the refrigerated section…the ones on the store shelf are made with vinegar, thus NOT fermented and offer no real health benefits) are pasteurized. Even the best sauerkraut in the refrigerated section with just cabbage and sea salt says it is lightly pasteurized.

There are plenty of sites that talk about the benefits of probiotics from fermented foods and there are lots of recipes to be had. I started out eating Bubbie’s Sauerkraut which was actually very good considering I had always been offput with just the smell of the stuff growing up. But as the container is on the small side and cost $7, I was determined to find a way to get fresh sauerkraut that didn’t break the bank. Guess what? You can buy cabbage (I buy both green and red…and according to EWG as posted here, cabbage is part of the “Clean 15”) for about $5 for 2 heads which last 2 to 3 months compared to a week or two! Cabbage is naturally resilient to bugs and the outer leaves are able to shield it from most toxic sprays. When consuming cabbage, make sure to remove and discard these outer leaves.

Okay, I’ll stop yapping and share my recipe. It’s a mix of red and green cabbage as they both have their own nutritional benefits! They share some of the same, but also very different ones. Dr. Mercola had his sauerkraut sent to a lab to test for probiotics and the results were astounding! “We found in a 4-6 ounce serving of the fermented vegetables there were literally ten trillion bacteria.” That means 2 ounces of home fermented sauerkraut had more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules. Translated this means one 16 ounce of sauerkraut is equal to 8 bottles of probiotics.” (via Nourishing Plot). After the recipe, I’ll post some links to read that list health benefits as well as nutrition information.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Beginning with a head of Red cabbage and a head of Green, remove and discard the outer leaves and rinse the cabbage and set aside to dry. Cut in half, then remove the core.
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Thinly slice and add an inch or 2 layer of cabbage at a time, adding salt (and Caraway seeds if you like) after each layer, scrunching well to release water (make it sweat!). Keep doing this until all the cabbage is used.

*Always make sure to use either a clean, sterilized glass bowl, ceramic, stone or stainless steel bowl.

After washing a large mason jar, ceramic or stone jar, sterilize by pouring boiling hot water into jar and lid and rinsing well, put in warm oven for a few minutes (I’ve read in places that this is how some people sterilize their jars) or wash in dishwasher and run through sterilizing heat cycle. Once clean and sterilized, add the cabbage in handfuls to the jar, pressing down to help release juices and cover with a saved leaf or 2 (not the outermost leaves, but a couple 2 to 3 layers down in the cabbage), then cover either with a towel, cheesecloth, or lid loosely fit on. Set in a dark place where the temperature is stable and not cold. How long it takes to ferment depends on how warm or cold it is. If it is warm, it will ferment and be ready to be refrigerated in about 5 days or so, perhaps less, but my experience is 5 days in the summer, and a good week or more in the winter. Sauerkraut has a tangy smell and taste which you will recognize once it is properly fermented. It’s really a no-brainer!

*ALWAYS make sure your hands are CLEAN before you begin and wash only with non-antibacterial soap and water and dry with paper towel. You sure don’t want to add any bad bacteria to the cabbage!

Tomorrow, we will check on the cabbage to see how it is doing. You need to “burp” it daily (releasing air bubbles) by getting a jar or plate (whatever fits in your container) and press down. On the first day, check to see if it has released enough liquid to submerge it. It most likely will have juice, just not enough to cover it. If that is the case, mix up 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt per 1 cup of filtered water and add till the cabbage is covered.

Links to check into:

Sauerkraut is the Original Probiotic Superfood

Sauerkraut Test Divulges Shocking Probiotic Count

Sauerkraut Offers A Spectrum of Health Benefits

Tips for Fermenting At Home

Christmas Time & Ginger Lemon Bars

Christmas tends to be my favorite time of the year. Even with depressing events and not having all my family together, the music, the lights, the smells of delicious food baking… Mmmmm! Just missing cold weather. But this is Florida, so we can’t always expect cold weather for Christmas!

We can usually expect friends and/or family, though. And this mama doesn’t like drama, particularly this time of year, so instead of wishing for things that may or may not could happen, I will focus on positives: I got some goals accomplished this year that had been part of my New Year’s resolutions! I learned to be proficient at knitting and getting better every time I knit something. I am still far FAR from being a pro, but I’m pretty happy with the latest results! I would post a picture, but until after Christmas, that will have to wait as said projects are part of our gift exchange and there is NO PEEKING! Also, homesteading has been a desire and goal of mine for some time. When you can’t sit or stand for long periods of time because of serious back problems, you do what you can as you can. So I’ve learned how to make my own sauerkraut (will post that in a later post when I make a new batch), caramelized ginger & simple ginger syrup (along with sparkling Voss water makes an amazing homemade Ginger Ale without the additives like high fructose corn syrup, aka “HFCS”), and the latest Pinterest recipe, Ginger Lemon Bars. O. M. G. New favorite!

For those who love lemon and who like ginger, this is amazing. Lemon and ginger work so well together as it is (have you tried a hot ginger tea with lemon and honey?) that if you haven’t tried ginger, lemon & honey tea, you MUST. It’s great when you’re sick. Seriously. But these babies here? I promise, you’ll be making these again. Wish I could claim they were my own recipe, but credit goes to Sarah over at Broma Bakery. The only things I changed were omitting salt since I used salted butter and I am gluten free so there’s that.

Ginger Lemon Bars

Ingredients:
for Cream Cheese Shortbread:
-5 oz. cream cheese
-1/2 C. butter
-2/3 C. sugar
-1/2 tsp. sea salt
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1 1/3 C. flour

 for the Ginger Lemon Curd:
-4 eggs
-1 1/4 C. sugar
-1/2 C. lemon juice
-1 Tblsp. lemon zest
-1 Tblsp. fresh ginger (grated)
-1/2 tsp. sea salt
-2 tsp. vanilla
-1/2 C. Flour

Instructions:

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray and line an 8″x 8″ baking dish/pan with parchment paper and lightly spray again. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, salt (if using unsalted butter), and vanilla until light & fluffy (approximately 2 minutes). Turn mixer to low speed and incorporate flour.

3. Press dough firmly onto bottom of baking dish, spreading evenly to edges. Bake 12-15 minutes.

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4. While the shortbread is cooking….. In large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the Ginger Lemon Curd (except for the flour). Once mixed, whisk in flour, whisking away lumps.

5. Pour Ginger Lemon Curd on top of the Cream Cheese Shortbread and bake an additional 20-30 minutes to set (length of time will depend on your oven and also the dish or pan used; I have a conventional oven and a glass dish which takes longer).

6. Cool to room temperature (or slightly warmer) on wire racks then cool in refrigerator until set and chilled an additional 2+ hours.

7. Cut into bars. You can sprinkle with as little or as much powdered sugar if desired. If you prefer more tangy, you can omit the sugar (like me, HA!).

These are absolutely divine! Now that my baking is done and my knitting projects are finished, I can focus on another resolution I have fallen pretty far behind on: my reading! Want to finally finish the Game of Thrones series (can’t wait till George R.R. Martin comes out with the 6th book in the series; he has 3 more books in the series he is working on, book 6 should be out some time in the new year). Then on to collecting and reading the rest of The Mistborn series and Dresden Files. And so many more!
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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Gluten Free Brown Butter Brownies

Ever have a craving for chocolate that won’t go away? Like, desperation setting in, just got to have some? But do you also have multiple food allergies, intolerance and /or sensitivities that makes it hard to eat chocolate due to soy, nuts or gluten (or even dairy; I solved that one by buying fresh from a local dairy farm)? Search no more. This recipe is absolutely to die for! It is a modification of Ashton’s recipe at Something Swanky. Hours upon hours of surfing Pinterest for a good, easy gluten free brownie recipe turns up many recipes that are similar to one another, some that are vegan, and some (gasp!) RAW! Not sure I’m ready to go raw. Some of those raw dessert recipes actually look and sound pretty good, but brownies? Eh. But I’m not going to ramble. You want the recipe. Disclaimer:  I use organic ingredients. Kerrygold lightly salted grass fed butter, Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar, Now Foods Organic Cocoa Powder (although you can also by organic/non-GMO raw cacao; I haven’t tried that yet), sea salt if you decide to use unsalted butter (I use Himilayan Pink whenever I do need to use salt…read this to see why it’s so much better for you), organic or certified Rainforest Alliance coffee (this time I used Green Mountain’s Organic Sumatra Aceh), Twin Oaks organic pastured eggs (farmer’s markets; I can’t eat eggs, per se, without horrible side effects, but in minute doses cooked in things like, say  BROWNIES, I do okay), Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flours (I made my own mix that I learned on the GlutenFreeGirl.com website that has no xanthan gum, but you can always buy theirs here), and Enjoy Life Semi Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips (those are so delicious and only 3 ingredients!).

Gluten Free Brown Butter Brownies

Ingredients:
-2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
-2 cups sugar
-1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt** (if you use unsalted butter)
-1 tablespoon fresh brewed strong coffee
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-4 eggs
-140 grams gluten free flour
-1 cup high quality semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Prepare a 9×13 baking pan by spraying with a non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper (makes getting the brownies out so much easier and cleanup a breeze).

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2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat (you will want something to keep around the pan to prevent a mess from the moisture evaporating when it starts bubbling). Keeping a close eye on it, as soon as it has reached a light golden brown color and has little “bits” formed (like in this photo), it’s ready. Remove from heat promptly to avoid burning it.

4. Turn oven on to preheat to 350 degrees F.

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5. Pour into glass bowl and add sugar…..

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and cocoa powder and beat until smooth.

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6. Add salt (if using unsalted butter), coffee….

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and vanilla.

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Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition.

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7. Add the flour and mix…..

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and chocolate chips, and stir well (it will be quite thick).

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8. Using a sturdy spatula, spread the batter into lined pan. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until when toothpick inserted is slightly moist (hey, you don’t want a dry brownie!).

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9. Let cool completely on wire rack, and cut into 2-inch squares. I don’t use xanthan gum (after reading and researching, some gluten free foods don’t really need it). Some people who are gluten intolerant or Celiac can’t tolerate xanthan gum either. If you really do need a binder say, for a cake, try ground chia seeds, ground flax seeds or arrowroot. This is really delicious when it’s been in the freezer and you let it thaw just long enough so that when you eat the brownie, you get the little crunch of the chocolate chips! 😃

The 4-1-1 On Me

When you’re born and raised in what is known as the “Redneck Riviera”, aka the panhandle of Florida along the Gulf Coast within an hour of both Georgia and Alabama, you learn to love your coffee sweet, dark, and very strong, your iced tea syrupy sweet, grandma’s flaky and delicious buttermilk biscuits, and sun & surf! You just can’t grow up in the south without these things and learning to swim as well as fish. Coconut cake and Pecan Pies are two of the most popular desserts in the south, raw oysters eaten straight or on crackers with hot sauce, pretty much anything that comes from the ocean, fried chicken, potatoes and gravy. Waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee strong enough to make anyone grow chest hair, bacon, and eggs is like waking up in heaven! Once breakfast is pumping through your veins, summer time tends to be long, full days of sun and fun. For the most part! Shelling peas with your grandmother is part of it too and add to awesome memories. Nothing like getting delicious food to sustain you for a day of beach or pool, or even riding your bicycles all day with your friends and getting home in time for supper.  Ah, supper! Our mama’s knew how to cook the best fried chicken along with mashed potatoes and gravy!

Trying to keep up the tradition of such wonderful cooking is a standard that has to be kept, if not surpassed, so our own kids will have wonderful memories of many of the same meals! But some women’s bodies don’t handle having babies as well as others. I know I am not alone when I say that after the birth of my third son, my body went completely bonkers. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (hypothyroid) and for nearly 20 years, my health steadily declined. Stomach problems, allergies, sensitivities, and spinal problems got way out of control. After having an upper & lower GI two days after Labor Day last year, I was given a list of foods to avoid if I wanted to feel better. It’s quite a long list! Thanks to digestive issues which prompted the scheduling of said GI check, I had managed to lose about 30 pounds. After the procedure and being handed a list of foods I needed to avoid, I didn’t listen right away. Instead, I would take Prilosec or something similar to ward off the stomach aches that came along with eating the foods I was to avoid. But I have no choice now.

Last few times I ate tomatoes, peppers, and other nightshade foods, I progressively had worse and worse reactions. The last time nearly sent me to the ER. Nothing like finding out in your mid-40’s what it’s like for those who’ve had lifelong food allergies! When you can’t figure out why it seems you’re gasping for breath, feel about to pass out while sitting,stomach churning, then the body purging for 24+ hours, you finally learn! So between learning what foods I need to avoid, which to limit, and the body purging itself, I’ve lost around 80’ish pounds over the course of a year. It’s a hard and unpleasant way to do it, but hey, I’m in normal size clothing for the first time since I was pregnant with my first son 22 years ago!

Which brings me to learning new ways of eating and especially cooking because, being southern, I LOVE to cook! But when you have to avoid nightshades (particularly tomatoes, peppers, and chili) and you love Mexican and Italian foods, it’s a huge bummer! I now have to read labels and avoid foods that people all around me are eating and enjoying. Here is my list of foods to avoid or only have a small amount on rare occasions (3*** means to completely avoid at all costs unless I want to make a trip to the ER, 2** means avoid if I don’t want to get a horrible stomach ache, 1* is for things I can only have in very small amounts on rare occasions):

*** Tomatoes and anything that has tomatoes in it (ketchup, marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc)
*** Peppers (Bell, Jalapeno, Chili, Cayenne) – this does not include Black Pepper/Peppercorns
*** Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
*** Nitrates/Nitrites
*** Additives & Preservatives in deli meats and some canned products (labels read carefully)
*** Artificial Sweeteners
*** Paprika
*** Eggplant
*** Tree Nuts

** Eggs
** Bananas
** ANY Pork
** Potatoes (I can, however, enjoy Sweet Potatoes as they are a different class and I LOVE)

* Gluten
* High Fructose Corn Syrup
* Any pasta that is not gluten-free and low-glycemic (I also have type 2 diabetes)
If I choose to eat non-organic fruits or vegetables, I make sure to soak with vinegar water before scrubbing or use baking soda to scrub well and peel off skin of fruits like apples. I’m not allergic to milk, but due to fact I’m highly sensitive and allergic to not just foods but chemicals too, I choose to eat and drink mostly organic foods. Berries are my favorite group (and they are absolutely wonderful for you)!

So follow me on this journey of new, clean eating and trying out new ways of caring for hair and skin! Maybe some of you have tips or recipes you would love to share!  I welcome them!