• 16Apr

    The search was on…too many over-ripe bananas and unable to rely on the standby banana bread recipe due to the need to avoid gluten and eggs.

    Here is what I ended up with:

    Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Bread

    1 1/2 cup millet flour
    1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
    1/4 cup teff flour
    1/3 cup sugar
    3 Tbs ground flax seed
    2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1 Tbs baking powder
    1/2 tsp xanthan gum
    1/2 tsp Redmond Real Salt
    3-4 very ripe bananas
    1 1/4 cup water
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 350F

    Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

    Mash the bananas and mix with the water, vanilla and butter.

    Mix the banana mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips.

    Pour batter into a well buttered and rice floured 9x5x3 loaf pan.

    Update: I have used a 9 x 9 square pan and it works well too.

    Bake at 350F for 50-70 minutes – until a knife poked into the center comes out clean.

    Cool in the pan for 20 minutes then finish cooling on a rack. Best to slice when fully cool but who can wait…

    Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Bread

  • 18Feb

    Most folks these days are mineral deficient. Minerals, as in: calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, iodine, sodium, zinc, selenium, etc….What’s the big deal you may ask? Minerals are needed not just for our bones but for our muscles to contract and relax, for all enzymes to function properly, nearly every physiological process involves a mineral.

    One of the best ways to get minerals is to eat lots of vegetables and some fruits. If you want a mineral packed source – turn to the sea.

    Sea vegetables or seaweed are actually algae and contain nearly all the minerals needed by humans. These mineral include: calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iodine, iron, zinc and numerous trace minerals. Sea vegetables also contain important vitamins: beta carotene, B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid and folic acid. It also, contains varying amounts of protein depending on type with the some red algae having amounts comparable to legumes.

    Common sea vegetables are brown algae: arame, hijiki, kombu (aka kelp), wakame, agar-agar; and red algae: dulse, irish moss (carrageen) nori (aka laver).

    Of note hijiki contains high amounts of calcium; kelp or kombu contains high amounts of magnesium; dulse is high in B6, iron and potassium.

    Health Benefits include aiding in detoxification of the body (binding to heavy metals), source of minerals, support digestion, support the immune system, beneficial for bone, anemia, aid with hormone balance, may aid with weight loss by induce fat burning, lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, reducing blood pressure and reducing risk of metabolic syndrome.

    One study showed the ability of iodine or iodine-rich seaweed to inhibit breast tumor development: Smyth PPA. The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2003;5:235-238.

    Sea vegetables are also a source of lignans (also found in flax seed) which are thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

    Here are some easy ways to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet
    · Add a piece of kombu or kelp in a pot of beans, soups and stocks
    · A pinch to a handful of most any sea vegetable to any long cooked dishes such as lentil & bean soups, stews, chilis, etc
    · Sprinkle flaked or cut up pieces of sea vegetables on salads, over rice or other grains.
    · Use flaked sea vegetable as a seasoning in place of salt
    · Add a small amount into baked goods
    · Add to a sandwich
    · Dry into snack chips

    This is a favorite soup recipe which features laver or nori:

    Laver Egg Drop Soup
    4 servings

    3 eggs
    4 cups chicken stock
    4 sheets of nori, torn into small pieces
    1 Tbs corn starch
    1/2 tsp grated ginger
    1 Tbs soy sauce
    1 Tbs shaoshing wine or sherry
    3 scallions, sliced
    ¼ tsp ground white pepper
    ¼ tsp toasted sesame oil

    Stir together 1/2 cup of chicken stock with the cornstarch, set aside.

    Lighty beat eggs.

    In a medium size pot, heat together remaining chicken stock with ginger,
    soy sauce, pepper and wine with the nori pieces. Bring to a boil, stir in the
    cornstarch slurry. Let simmer. Add the scallions.

    Turn off heat. While stirring the soup in a clockwise direction, slowly
    add the egg in a thin stream. Garnish with a few drops of sesame oil.
    Serve immediately.

  • 24Jun

    I’m on a no grain low carb menu for a few weeks – need to lose the muffin from the cupcake binge I went on…

    I notice that I actually had to put some thought into changing what I reach for during meal times – it’s just reprograming as my snack and meal making is so automatic.
    No grains, ok -but low carb means cutting some veggies and fruits off the list. I didn’t want to eat big hunks of meat all the time so I made a list of protein foods and veggies that I can incorporate into my daily snacks and meals…I wanted to make the list for 3 reasons – show all the possibilities so I don’t feel deprived, reassure myself I will not starve and make sure I have the ingredients I need. Also, knowing what is not on the list will prevent me from inadvertantly bringing home the “do not eat” list foods.

    The lastest snack light / meal munchie…Tonnato

    Tonnato is a sauce of Italian origin made from canned tuna that is traditionally served with veal. I’m skipping the baby cow and enjoying it with cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and celery sticks.


    (based on a recipe from Food and Wine, August 2003)

    2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
    2 Tb Italian flat leaf parsley
    1 – 3 ounce can of tuna packed in olive oil
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    1 tsp capers, drained
    1 Tb lemon juice (more or less to taste)
    2 anchovy fillets
    1 clove garlic
    1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

    Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.


  • 22Feb

    Many of us have or suspect we have food sensitivites. Many of the symptoms we experience do not seem to be related to ingestion of a particular food. For instance, a rash or eczema, joint pain, headaches, foggy brain… And then the symptoms that we may associate with something we have eaten: nausea, intestinal distress. In my case, I suspect egg protein is causing a small patch of eczema. I’ll eliminate egg from my diet for a month or so and see if the patch clears.

    Wanting a little sweet – I decided to make a gluten free and egg free cookie and here is what I came up with (I made the almond version):

    Peanut Butter or Almond Cookies
    48 cookies

    1/2 cup butter, unsalted
    8 ounces peanut butter — or almond butter
    2/3 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup flax seed — ground
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla — or almond extract if making almond cookies
    1 cup brown rice flour
    1/3 cup glutinous rice flour
    1/4 cup almond meal
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/3 cup sesame seeds — to roll; optional

    Cream butter and sugar. Add milk, extract and flax seed. Mix together rest of ingredients and add to butter mixture. Form into 1″ diameter balls. Roll in sesame seeds. Bake 375 for 8-10 minutes

    Per Cookie: 84 Calories; 5g Fat (56.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 6mg Cholesterol; 89mg Sodium.

    If you want to make these dairy free you can substitute the butter with coconut oil and the milk with water.


  • 19Feb

    Change is a slow process…Due to a food sensitivity to the milk protein casein I’ve been wanting to eliminate dairy from my diet for at least a year. I have been successful in spurts only…can’t shake that darn cheese…

    Besides the cheese, one hurdle has been to find a suitable substitute for the milk/cream that I like to put in my chai and coffee. Forget all the packaged milk substitutes out there…soy is no good as I am sensitive to that too. The rest? Almond and Rice ‘milks’ are not ‘creamy’ enough and taste horrible. Plus I don’t like the fact that all of these ‘milks’ are fortified with vitamin D2 aka ergocalciferol. D2 is the synthetic version of vitamin D and has been implicated in calcification of soft tissues – like the lining of your arteries ( Buist RA. Vitamin Toxicities, Side Effects and Contraindications. International Clinical Nutrition Review 4(4), 159-171, 1984.) I much prefer the natural version – D3 (cholecalciferol.)

    My high powered K-Tec blender to the rescue :)

    I’ve read recipes for DIY nut milks and they always seems like so much work…soaking, blanching, blending, straining…ugh who has time for all that! So I streamlined the process and have a jar of nut milk in a matter of minutes.

    First I soften the nuts. Put a mix of about 1/2 a cup of mostly organic unroasted blanched cashews, a few organic raw natural almonds and a few brazil nuts in 3/4 cup of filtered water in a 3 cup jar. Put this in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I drain and rinse off the nuts and pour into my K-Tec blender with 3/4 cup of filtered water. Then blend on the highest setting for 30 seconds. I add another  1 1/2 to 2 cups of water and blend on high for another 30 seconds. Pour back into the jar and back in the refrigerator. Shake well before using. I use this neutrally flavored creamy concoction as a sub in any recipe calling for milk or cream.

    Bonus…this nut milk is chock full of needed minerals like magnesium, zinc, selenium, manganese, calcium and phosphorous. And antioxidants like vitamin E along with good fats like oleic acid (same as found in olive oil) to promote good heart health.

    Drink Up!

  • 22Nov

    Oh, yes I am still enamored with Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread. I’m on loaf number 6! Lucky for me I have friends and neighbors who love bread too – otherwise I would be out shopping for new clothes rather than writing this post.

    I do love bread but am not so crazy about eating so much refined wheat flour plus grains can be hard to digest and in fact be anti-nutritive. The recipe I have been using so far is 1/3 whole grain – I do plan to try and up this to 50/50 on the next batch. If one examines native cultures – nearly all soaked or fermented grains before eating. Why would the native peoples go to all the trouble? If I asked my mother or grandmother why we soaked our rice before cooking it they would just smack the back of my head and say “Because that’s what you do, why are you asking so many questions?!”

    We now understand that soaking and fermenting grains makes the grains more easy to digest and the nutrients more bioavailable. Further, grains have a compound called phytic acid, which bind to minerals while in our gut that are essential to our health – like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. The long 18 hour fermentation of the no-knead dough certainly breaks down much of the starch (that’s what yeast like to grow on) along with some of the difficult to digest gluten. In addition, the fermentation process may deactivate the phytic acid but I wasn’t sure fermenting with a commercial baker’s yeast was enough to do the job.

    How can we convert our crusty loaf, a refined carb, into a sour dough complex carb? By using an old fashion wild sour dough starter like our ancestors did. Wild starters like these not only have yeast but enzymes and lactic acid bacteria so you get a more complete fermentation. Besides, this was an excuse to revive some critters that have been lost on my desk in suspended animation for a better part of a year. Months and months ago, I sent away for a bit of Carl Griffith’s 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter. It came in a little sandwich bag and looked like some dried dough scraped up from the back of a covered wagon. No actually it looked quite benign. Sunday morning, I looked up the instructions to turn the old dust into a live sourdough starter by mixing it with flour and water. I was a little worried it wouldn’t be viable any longer as I had the starter for months sandwiched between piles on my desk – it was a miracle I even found it to begin with! Well to make a long story short – those tenacious little buggers sprang to life. On Monday I took a sniff and the cup of ‘sour dough batter’ smelled like a floury yogurt. Eureka! The Oregon Trail lives on in Oakland California! Yee Haw!

    Today’s loaf came out tasting like a mighty fine sour dough – not quite like my favorite from Bay Breads but in the same ball park. Closer than I have ever gotten trying to make my own starter or even from starters I had used from some restaurants I had worked.

    Here’s the recipe:
    Mix together in a 3-4 quart bowl:

    2 c King Arthur bread flour
    1 ½ c Guisto’s medium whole wheat flour
    2 teaspoons Redmond sea salt


    1 c Carl Griffith’s 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter
    1 c + a tablespoon or so of water – enough to make a sticky dough

    Follow the rest of the instructions from this post “The Staff of Life”

    Loaf number seven will come out of the oven tomorrow in time for the Thanksgiving table…and maybe for some turkey panini on Friday!

    Next I will try upping the percentage of whole grain and work with spelt flour which tends to be an easier gluten grain to digest.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 02Nov

    The cold and rain brings back childhood memories of waking up to steaming bowls of rice congee for breakfast. Garnished with whisper thin slivers of ginger to keep the warmth burning inside, congee was the perfect way to start a cold damp day. Congee is also a great food to have when you are feeling under the weather as it is easy to digest after it’s long cook time.

    Here is a recipe where I updated it to use brown rice and lentils to add extra fiber and protein.

    The toppings listed are just suggestions. Don’t use all of them – just pick a few favorites or use what is on hand.

    Whole Grain & Lentil Congee (aka Jook)

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    3/4 cup brown and wild rice
    1/4 cup lentils
    8 cups vegetable broth — or chicken stock
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    ***Toppings (optional)***
    2 each scallion — sliced
    1 tablespoon peanuts — chopped
    4 large eggs, hard-boiled — sliced in wedges
    2 teaspoons flax seed
    2 teaspoons ginger — finely julienned
    cilantro — roughly chopped
    ginko nuts, sesame oil, white pepper

    Soak rice and lentils overnight with 1T of fresh lemon juice. Drain and rinse.

    Put first 4 ingredients in a stock pot and simmer covered for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking

    To serve, ladle in bowl and add desired toppings.

    For Crock Pot – put hot stock in crock pot with rice, lentils and sea salt. Cook on high for at least 8 hours. Stir every few hours to prevent the bottom from sticking.

    Toppings may be prepared the day before.

    Add 5 g protein per serving by adding 1 oz of cooked shredded chicken breast to each serving.

    Variations: Mix various grains along with the rices – suggested: millet, barley, quinoa. Just keep the total to 3/4 of a cup and the majority of the mix should be rice.


  • 29Sep

    Life has been busy but slowing down…just in time for the holiday season! We are moved in and nearly settled, the outside of the house is freshly painted and we are planting new trees – a blood orange, 2 tangerines and a fuyu persimmon. I’m still trying to figure out if we can fit an olive and avocado into the landscape…

    Now I can get back to my routine of cooking and spreading the word on nutrition – eating for health.

    While I have finished my Nutrition Consultant certification program I continue to go to seminars to keep up to date on the latest. I just went to a seminar on Cardiovascular Health – it was amazing and informative. From what I learned at school and at this seminar, the ‘traditional’ heart healthy diet prescribed by the western medical establishment actually leads to heart disease! Wow, I thought we were beating heart disease but the truth is – while lowering cholesterol will lessen your chance of heart attacks that is not the end of the story. It is true the stats for death by heart attack has decreased, BUT the numbers of folks dying from congestive heart failure has gone up. One of the best selling drug classes today…statins does seem to reduce the risk of heart attack. However, one side effect is muscle weakness…last I heard the heart was a muscle. Hmmm.

    So far we are not related to food but I am getting there…one interesting thing Dr. Lang covered was the heart energy. When we identify ourselves we usually point to our heart. Did you know it has been documented that heart transplant patients take on some of the personality traits of the person who donated their heart? Wow! And, there are actual measurements of electromagnetic waves emanating from the heart 6 to 8 feet away.

    So when food is made for us from the heart – there really is something to it. As in “Like Water for Chocolate” it is not implausible for the energy of the cook to infuse the dish said cook is preparing. No wonder that chicken soup Mom make for us when we were sick is so healing.

    Sometimes we just want a little home cooking – comfort served up warm and satisfying – well, really heartwarming and soul satisfying. We’re lucky in the Bay Area to have numerous ‘mom and pop’ eateries where the food is made from the heart. So lucky are we, that we can even find these at the weekly Farmer’s Markets. At my neighborhood market in Temescal/Rockridge, there are numerous stands – Crepes from Brittany, Thai steamed snapper from Andy and Cindy and Masala Dosa from Shyamala among others. Sometimes it’s hard to choose but I’ve been on a dosa jag. One crispy rice and lentil pancake filled with potato curry served with the requisite coconut chutney and seasonal gingery fruit chutney for brunch will keep me going until late in the afternoon. That’s the power of home cooking from the heart.

    I’ve been making dosa at home for breakfast a few mornings a week. I follow Indira’s method though use equal parts brown rice to dal and make one rather unconventional (as far as I know) addition. Mostly from lack to time to make coconut chutney – I decided to throw a handful of fine grated dried coconut into the batter. I quite like it so that’s my main batter these days. I even add the coconut to my idli batter. And rather than using the flat griddle Indira uses (which is no doubt much easier) I just use my trusty cast iron skillet with a bit of coconut oil or ghee. For breakfast, I keep it simple by just making the pancake and filling with a potato based curry. Of course the batter and curry are made in a big batch ahead of time to last a few days. This way I have a relatively quick and nourishing (a nice balance of protein, complex carb and fat) breakfast to start my day out right.

    Well, it’s nice to be back posting again. Next up will be a recipe for noodles I made for the food blogger’s picnic.

  • 09Jun

    socca…socca…socca! No, I not watching the World Cup games though I did enjoy a game or two of soccer back in the good old days when I actually had lungs. But I digress…

    socca, socca, socca…That’s what the socca vendors in Nice, Provence would call out when wheeling their carts about selling their wares. And that’s what I’ve been yelling about the house these days…P thinks I have finally lost my marbles :)

    Thanks to a good friend, N, I had my first taste of Socca -alas, not in Nice- but in Berkeley at Socca Oven located in the new Epicurious Garden on Shattuck Avenue. Socca’s are pancakes made of chickpea (aka garbanzo bean or gram) flour, water and extra virgin olive oil. At SO they finish the soccas in an open flame clay oven with various toppings – sort of like pizza but not. N & I had tapenade and salt cod – a bit salty but I am a salt fiend. P had the zucchini and loved it. I was hooked and am now a socca addict – we’ve had them for dinner twice now.

    In my research I found that these are traditionally made in copper tins – large ones, from 50-70 cm in diameter. Since my oven wasn’t that big, I opted for my 10 inch cast iron fry pan. At SO they were made a little less than a 1/4 inch thick but the thickness varies from that to as thin as a crepe. Seems that in France these are eaten plain with a glass of wine rather than topped as made at Socca Oven. I’m thinking these would be a nice appetizer in either case.

    We liked ours thick but maybe slightly thinner than we had at SO. I’ve varied the toppings depending on what we had on hand. We had plenty of greens in the garden so one night we had sauteed kale and the other swiss chard. One version had roasted onions and garlic with goat cheese and anchovies. A veggie version had home grown baby zucchini.

    I bet an Indian spiced version would be fun. In fact, in the western part of India there is a savory steamed chickpea ‘cake’ called Dhokla. One day I will have to try my hand at making some dhoklas.

    Soccas are a great food – a nice gluten free alternative to the wheat flour crusted pizzas. And you’ve got fiber – the soluble type which is good for lowering cholesterol; protein which we all need for building bone, muscle and cartilage; folate which is good for the heart; magnesium which is needed to help relax your muscles; and many trace minerals. One trace mineral it is especially high in is molybdenum which interestingly enough helps the body detoxify sulfites which is found in some wines. Those French know how to eat and drink!

    Here’s the recipe I used for the Socca pancakes.


    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    2 cups chickpea flour
    2 1/4 cups water
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
    extra virgin olive oil for cooking the pancake

    Toppings of your choice – some ideas: caramelized onions, roasted garlic, sauteed greens (kale, chard, spinach), olive tapenade, sundried tomatoes, any herb pesto, any roasted veggie, smoked salmon, salt cod, anchovies, any cheese, etc…

    Whisk together all ingredients so there are no lumps. You can strain through a sieve or china cap if desired. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

    Preheat broiler to high or oven to 500F. Heat a 10 inch cast iron pan over medium heat until hot. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Pour about 3/4 cup of batter into pan. Cook until bottom is turning brown – this should take at least 3-4 minutes so turn up or down the heat as needed. Flip and cook until cooked through and brown. Transfer to baking sheet. Cook remaining pancakes – you should have enough batter for four.

    Arrange your toppings on to the pancakes. Put under the broiler or in hot oven for a few minutes or until the toppings are heated through. Serve hot with a nice green salad.

    Check out what other bloggers have created at:

    Mahanandi’s Indian Dosa

    In Praise of Sardines

    The Scent of Green Bananas

    The Travelers Lunchbox

    And check out the Italian version here:

    Beyond Salmon


    ENJOY! :)

  • 27May

    What are some other foods that are calcium rich?

    almonds, asparagus, burdock root, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, dandeloin greens, dulse, figs, filberts (aka hazelnuts), green leafy vegetables, kale!, kelp, mustard greens, oats, parsley, peppermint, prunes, sesame seeds, turnip greens, watercress

    …and while we’re at it you’ll also need…

    magnesium…almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, canteloupe, cod, dulse, figs, flounder, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, kelp, lemons, lima beans, halibut, millet, nuts, peaches, black-eyed peas, salmon, sesame seeds, shrimp, watercress, whole grains

    and phosphorus…asparagus, brewer’s yeast, burdock root, corn, dried fruits, fish, garlic, beans, nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, meats, whole grains

    and vanadium…dill, fish, green beans, olives, meats, radishes, whole grains

    and vitamin D…dandeloin greens, sweet potatoes, egg yolks from chickens raised in the sunshine, fish, cod liver oil (yummy), pasture raised animals and sunshine

    and vitamin K…asparagus, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, green leafy veggies!, liver, oatmeal, oats, rye, wheat

    SHORT LIST – eat lots of veggies – especially the green leafy variety, colorful fruits, some nuts and seeds, vary the proteins from land and sea – spice things up with some herbs and get out into the sunshine!