Friday, September 28, 2012

Harvest and Food as medicine

It's been a busy week this week.  As well as many of my usual things, I started two new "Food as Medicine" groups this week, AND we harvested our Godello grapes in the vineyard! More on the harvest soon.

The two new "Food as Medicine" groups were on Tuesday and Thursday. Each group consists of 9 women, and we will meet once a month.  This month we looked at some of the benefits of eating a whole foods plant-based diet, with a focus on the benefits of avoiding dairy in our diets.

After some time in discussion, we donned our aprons in the kitchen and went about making and tasting the following:

  • almond milk
  • brown rice milk
  • oat milk
  • cashew cream
  • whipped coconut cream
  • soft cashew cheese
  • cheese sprinkles
  • cheese cake
all without any dairy or animal products in sight!

Sadly we were so involved, I forgot to take any photos!  

The recipes for the milks are already on this blog, as is the recipe for the cashew nut cheese.

The cheese sprinkles were a great hit.  They are a non-dairy alternative to parmesan cheese or other types of cheese that you may sprinkle on caesar salad, vegetables, or pasta or....  The recipe came from the book "Let them eat vegan" and here is a link to the vegan parmesan cheese recipe by Dreena Burton.

The cheesecake went down very well, so I'll have to make that again and take some photos to share with you.

I really enjoyed our time together, and hope they all did too.  Looking forward to next month already.
Thursday, September 27, 2012

Food coupons for fruit and veg

How refreshing!  Publix supermarket - (a supermarket in the south of US which we used to go to when we lived in Florida), have been offering money off coupons at their stores for produce!  I don't think I've ever seen that before.

Normally the food coupons you get stuffed in your Sunday newspaper give money off highly processed foods.  But these latest coupons are for any fruits or vegetables, including organic produce.

A great way to encourage people to eat more fruit and vegetables and less processed foods.

I hope some other supermarkets follow their example.  Well done Publix.
Monday, September 24, 2012

Health benefits of flax seeds

Here's a short video from about adding more flax into your life (!) and its benefits: from extending your menstrual cycle, to being a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, to reducing breast cancer risk,  to controlling prostate enlargement......

I often use them as a substitute for eggs - 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water is the equivalent to one egg. Leave the mixture for a few minutes until it goes gooey, then use it in place of  eggs in baking.

It's best to eat flaxseeds ground. If you eat them whole, they will likely just pass through your system.  Store them in an air tight container to reduce oxidation of the oils and try adding them to your cereal and baked goods.  Also, see last week's blog post of making flaxseed milk!

What's your favorite way to incorporate flaxseeds into your diet?
Saturday, September 22, 2012

The language of flowers - Part II

Following from yesterday's blog post about my book club gathering to discuss "The language of flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, you may have guessed it, but the other flower themed dessert I made was  a  roulade. Yes, it's been nearly two weeks since I've made a roulade!!! Had to get one in sometime!  This one was a rose and strawberry roulade.

As usual the dessert is refined sugar free, gluten free and dairy free. The rose flavoring comes from rose water added to the cream (whipped coconut cream).  Also in the cream are some strawberries and some chewy freeze dried strawberries from my sister.  They add a lovely texture to it.

Of course, it had to be decorated with edible rose petals.

The meaning of roses in the language of flowers varies depending on the color of the rose.

Burgundy rose - unconscious beauty
Moss rose - confession of love
Orange rose - fascination
Pale peach rose - modesty
Pink rose - grace
Purple rose - enchantment
Red rose - love
White rose - a heart unaquainted with love
Yellow rose - infidelity.

I chose a pink rose - for grace.

We had a great discussion about the book and flowers and foster care and many other things.  I made each of them a tied little bunch of flowers to take home with them.  The flowers I chose from the garden were:
sedum - for tranquility
sage - for good health and long life
marjoram - for blushes - with the hope that they feel young enough to still blush!

Click here for a printer friendly recipe for Rose Roulade
Friday, September 21, 2012

The language of flowers - Part I

It was book club at my house this morning.  I had selected the book "The language of flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I loved the book - and so did the rest of the group.

The book is about Victoria who spent her childhood in the foster-care system, moving from one place to another, never spending more than a year in any one home.  At the age of 18 she has to leave the system, even though she has no where to go.  But she gradually finds that she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.  She learned the Victorian language of flowers from Elizabeth, one of her foster parents - and finds it to be a way she can communicate to others.  It follows her difficult life of learning to love when she has never been loved, going back and forth between her childhood and present day, as so many books seem to do nowadays!  It's a lovely and at times difficult read.

For my group, I decided to use the flower theme for our gathering today.  I served hibiscus tea and hibiscus sparkling water. The meaning of hibiscus is "delicate beauty" - and it's also really high in antioxidants.

I then made two desserts.  The first one was little flower pots for each person, as you see in the photos.

In tiny terra-cotta pots I made "soil" cake from quinoa, walnuts etc from a recipe I found on Golubka's blog, for ant-hill cake. I'd never heard of ant hill cake but this version is gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free.  To be honest, it was a little too solid for my liking, a bit stodgy, but the taste was OK. Then I put a sprig of mint in the pot (thanks to my neighbor Janet who supplied the mint!) and topped it with a little pink, yellow or white edible daisy.

They looked very cute!  Oh, and the Victorian meaning for daisy is "innocence".

I'll show you the other delight tomorrow!  But in the meantime, I recommend the book. 
Thursday, September 20, 2012

National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the fourth most common malignancy among men worldwide, with an estimated 400,000 new cases diagnosed annually, accounting for 3.9% of all new cancers.

This summer I read a great book about prostate cancer that I'd like to recommend to you. The title is quite unexpected. It is:

Invasion of the prostate snatchers: An essential guide to managing prostate cancer for patients and their families, by Mark Scholz MD and Ralph Blum.

The book discusses the latest thinking on prostate cancer management, from two perspectives, a doctor and a patient.  Ralph Blum writes in an entertaining style about his twenty year journey with prostate cancer and his decisions along the way, while Dr Mark Scholz presents new scientific advances, with a focus on non invasive approaches.

Chapters alternate between the two authors - with comments at the end by the other.  It's a nice style and makes for easy reading.  It provides a lot of information for patients and families to help them make decisions on what approach to take.  I highly recommend it.

Prostate Cancer Incidence Rates by State, 2008

Epidemiologic evidence strongly suggests that dietary factors play a major role in prostate cancer progression and mortality, with protective effects associated with consumption of fruit (esp. tomatoes),  and increased risk linked to dairy. My recommendation for prostate cancer patients, or those at risk, is to avoid milk and dairy consumption (actually, this is my recommendation for everyone!) .    The evidence is mounting.  Major studies suggesting a link between milk and prostate cancer have appeared in medical journals since the 70's.

In international and interregional correlational studies, dairy product consumption has been consistently associated with prostate cancer mortality.

Researchers are looking at not only whether milk increases cancer risk, but also how.  There are several possible mechanisms: that milk with its high calcium levels adversely affect vitamin D metabolism; that dairy consumption leads to an increase in concentration of insulin like growth factor (IGF-1) which promotes cell cancer growth; and that most dairy products contain substantial amounts of fat and no fiber which is a combination that leads to increased testosterone concentration and activity which can have a cell replicating effect on prostate tissue. .

For further information on the research regarding prostate cancer and dairy, see the summaries supplied by Dr Neal Barnard of PCRM.

1. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Ajani U, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci E. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Presentation, American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, April 2000.
2. Cohen P. Serum insulin-like growth factor-I levels and prostate cancer risk—interpreting the evidence. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998;90:876-879.
3. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL. What causes prostate cancer? A brief summary of the epidemiology. Sem Canc Biol. 1998a;8:263-73. 
4. Giovannucci E. Dietary influences of 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D in relation to prostate cancer: a hypothesis. Cancer Causes and Control. 1998b;9:567-82. 
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Making Flax Seed Milk

Continuing in my non-dairy vegan milk posts (oat, almond, banana, brown rice recipes), today I made milk using flax seeds.

You can get brown or golden flax seeds - both are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  The flavor is somewhat stronger with the brown seeds so for milk, I recommend golden flax seeds.

Here is the recipe:

1/4 cup organic golden flaxseeds
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup or other sweetener (optional)

Place the flaxseeds and water in a high powered blender and blend for 3 minutes.

Strain the liquid through nut bag or double thickness cheesecloth, squeezing out the milk.

As seed milk tends to be a little bitter, taste the milk first, but you may want to add a little maple syrup or stevia to the milk to suit your own taste.

Store in the refrigerator and use within a week.
Monday, September 17, 2012

Sister Mary Cake - version 2

No, although this could be considered a minimalist cake with only two ingredients, it isn't for a nun or created by a nun, rather it is a recipe for my sister, Mary!  It is a gluten free, sugar free, dairy free cake recipe.

I posted a photo of a three ingredient cake on my blog a couple of weeks ago and my sister asked for the recipe as she liked the look of it.  I hadn't been totally happy with the result of that one, so thought I'd try it again with some modification - so here is version 2 - for my sister, Mary.  It's still not quite there but hopefully version 3 will bring it all together.

Version 1 was made with eggs, lemon juice and almonds.

Version 2 is made with just eggs and walnuts.  It is then decorated with raspberries - so I guess they are the third ingredient.   I won't show the recipe yet as it's not good enough.

Folding the walnuts into the eggs
This time I made the mistake of putting the mixture in too small a diameter pan and so it was too tall for the frothy eggs to support it and thus it sank in the middle (see photo below).  In version 3, I think I'll try using two pans, one for each layer or one slightly wider pan.

Also, the flavor needed a little something to lift it.  When I halved the sponge, I put "mushed" raspberries inside and then put more whole raspberries on top. They went someway to "lifting" the flavor ( and also filling the dip in the top!) but I think what it needs is some citrus, so I'll try some lemon zest in version 3, both in the cake and with the mushed raspberries!

Before photographing the current cake, I felt it needed a sprinkle of something on top. Many cakes utilize powdered/icing sugar for this, but as this is a sugar free cake, I sifted some raspberry flour on top.  Which do you prefer the look of - no sprinkle, or sprinkle?

The recipe is developing.... but not quite there yet.  I'll keep you posted.  Patience, Sister Mary!!!!
Friday, September 14, 2012

Golden Raisins

I seem to have spent the last couple of days with my hands in sticky fruit juice! What with pulling each little seedless green grape off his stalk to dehydrate them to make golden raisins/sultanas, and with chopping the cherry tomatoes and apples, it's been sticky, sticky, sticky!

I'm delighted with the sultanas/golden raisins.  They don't look particularly golden - but they are! Sultanas/golden raisins are green grapes, and raisins are red grapes.  When you buy golden raisins, they are often a paler color because of the addition of sulphites, which of course I didn't add.

About half way dry
But pulling all the grapes off the stems was a little tedious! I tried dehydrating some of them in little bunches as I thought they would be useful decoratively on dishes..... Surprisingly, those in bunches seem to dry out quicker than individual grapes. I don't quite understand that as you'd think there would be more air flow around individual grapes?????

Little bunch of sultanas
After about 9 trays, I had had enough of de-stemming and juiced the rest.

The juice is so grapey!  No surprise really, but it tastes different than other grape juice - because it's a different grape varietal than is used commercially.  It's not too sweet...but it is bordering on the sweet side!  It came out lovely and clear however.

Happy grape successes! Now onto tomatoes and apples.....before the pears start ripening!
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Swimming in tomatoes!

The joy of growing your own fruit and vegetables: you wait for ages to begin harvest, then have masses all at once!

Even with just two tomato plants, we are nearly overwhelmed with tomatoes! We pick them just about everyday but yesterday seemed to tip me over the edge. We've been managing just eating them raw, but I now know I have to get cooking with them. I'm planning on making some roasted tomato soup and then also trying some tomato sauce. I've never tried that before. Should be fun.


For today however, I'm roasting some for my lunch and will have them on some gluten free toast.

They are drizzled with blackberry balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with homegrown oregano and marjoram. Hmmm. Here's the oil-free recipe. Can't wait for lunch time.


Recipe: Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar - plain or flavored
Fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, marjoram

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 200 degrees C
Halve tomatoes and place on silpat or parchment paper on a baking tray. (It is important to use a non stick surface as no oil is added in this recipe.)
Sprinkle with chopped herbs of your choice
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
Roast in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.
Serve warm with crusty bread or on toast.
Store at room temperature for maximum flavor.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Walnut Roulade

Yes, I'm definitely in a roulade phase! This is the third type of roulade I've made in the last few weeks. This was for an event we held on Sunday.  It is refined-sugar free, gluten free and dairy free.

I was really pleased with how it came out.  It is made with just eggs, lemon juice, xylitol* and walnuts.  Of course, I then decorated it with fresh raspberries and then drizzled a little fruit-sweetened, sugar free raw chocolate and grated lemon zest on top.

It was eaten up very quickly, but I did manage a little slice, only to check how it tasted, of course!

*Xylitol is a natural sweetener, a sugar alcohol used as a substitute for sugar.  I like it and it seems to work well.  It is a cup for cup replacement for table sugar, so it's easy to substitute in recipes.  It is also granulated like sugar but you can grind it up finer, as necessary.

Xylitol is found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables and can be extracted from various berries, oats, mushrooms, as well as fibrous materials such as corn husks and birch.  Unlike other sweeteners, xylitol is actively beneficial for dental health, reducing caries to a third in regular use and it has also been shown to reduce the incidence of ear infections.

It has a much lower glycemic index than sugar - GI 7 for xylitol vs GI 80 for sugar, so it a great low calorie sugar substitute for diabetics  that doesn't cause a spike in blood glucose levels.

I don't notice any difference in taste at all between it and sugar, but I find it takes a little long to dissolve when I am cooking with it, for example if beating it with eggs, it stays granular longer so I just whisk it a little longer.

Have you ever used it? What are your thoughts?  If not, give it a go. I think you'll like it.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Making brown rice milk

Today's non-dairy milk recipe is for brown rice milk.  Like the others I've shown, (oat milk, almond milk, and banana milk), it's quick and easy and has no odd ingredients like store bought non-dairy milks.  It's just brown rice and water.

Start with 1 cup of cooked brown rice. I used organic brown basmati.

Put it in a blender with 2 cups of water.

Blend on high for a couple of minutes.

Strain through a nut bag or cheesecloth (see almond milk recipe for more info on nut bags).

Store refrigerated for up to 10 days.  Use for cereal and as a replacement for dairy milk in recipes.

For my personal taste, I add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence to this rice as it tastes a bit too much like rice for my liking.  See what you think.  I much prefer it with the vanilla, yet other non dairy milks I like plain.

What's your favorite?
Monday, September 10, 2012

Making sultanas

We harvested our table grapes today from our arbor.  They are lovely sweet seedless grapes. Most of them I am going to dehydrate to make sultanas - or golden raisins as they are called here in the US. I still prefer to call them sultanas.

Of course, we don't use sulphur on ours as a preservative, like many store-bought golden raisins. Ours tend to come out a little darker in color than the ones we used to buy in England... I suspect it is because it is a different grape varietal.

But I use a lot of baking, for snacking and daily on my unsweetened cereal or oatmeal.

On the dehydrating tray

The first three trays are in the dehydrator now. I still have loads more bunches to de-stem but that is enough for one day!  My hands still feel sticky from all that sweet juice, even after washing them a couple of times!

Sultanas are high in anti-oxidant levels and despite being high in sugar, they don't cause spikes in your blood sugar levels like refined sugar does, because they are a whole food, with plenty of fiber.  They also contain iron, calcium, protein and vitamin C.  A phytonutrient called oleanolic acid in sultanas helps promote good oral health by destroying the bacteria that cause cavities.

Just as you can use dates in baking and cooking to replace refined sugar, you can similarly use sultanas and raisins. Before using them, you should rehydrate them by soaking them in water for 10 - 15 minutes and then drinking them.

What did you harvest today?
Friday, September 7, 2012

Light as a feather cake

I made this cake with just three ingredients - and one of them was 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice!

It is lovely: so light as a feather.

It uses just eggs, lemon juice and almonds! How simple is that.

The frosting is pomegranate seeds in a cashew and almond cream.

I think this could be one of the recipes I use for my gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free dessert class coming up in October. I'll tell you more about that as the time gets closer and I've decided what we'll make.

Have a great weekend.  Hope your mood is as light as a feather!
Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Emergency" non-dairy milk - Banana milk

Following on from the previous couple of weeks Oat Milk and Almond Milk recipes , this week I'm going to show you how to make banana milk.  I consider it an "emergency" non-dairy milk.  It's for those occasions like when you have gone away to a friend's house for the weekend and it comes to breakfast and they only have dairy milk for your cereal which you don't want or can't tolerate due to health reasons.  Instead, you can quickly whip up some banana milk and use that instead.

It is, naturally, banana-y so isn't useful for other things like putting in coffee! - but it is perfect for cereal.

All you need is a banana, some water and an immersion blender.

Cut up the banana and place in a jug/bowl.

Blend the banana with the immersion blender until it is liquid.

Add 1 cup of water and blend again.

Voila - yummy banana milk for oatmeal or cereal.

Use it soon after making or else it'll go brown.

More non dairy milk recipes next week.

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