Homemade Raw Sauerkraut

Raw Sauerkraut

 

Hello dear readers,

Well another season is blazing by – Halloween has come and gone and Thanksgiving is upon us in less than two weeks. This morning I ordered my gluten-free pie crust from Bacano Bakery and perused the beautiful sugar-pie pumpkins at the farmers’ market. The weather is finally chilling in California and it’s time for the more warming foods of the season.

As the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers (my toddler’s favorite vegetable) of summer are leaving us, one of my favorite ways to preserve and eat raw vegetables in the winter months is to make homemade sauerkraut. Unlike most kinds you can buy in a store, homemade sauerkraut is raw and probiotic. So it is not only a tasty favorite food of my German heritage but it is also a nourishing and health-promoting food. The probiotic cultures and enzymes in sauerkraut are an excellent tonic for those of us with digestive issues and/or candida.

I only recently discovered how easy it is to make your own sauerkraut. Thanks to Michael Pollan’s instructions in Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, I was inspired to try it myself. The basic version has only two ingredients – cabbage and salt. From there you can get creative and add things like spices and/or other raw vegetables. Kimchi is another ethnic variation of sauerkraut, using napa cabbage and spices, and is next on my list to try. Here is my basic version of old-world sauerkraut with coriander seeds.

 

Ingredients:

1 large head of cabbage

1-2 tsp sea salt per lb. of cabbage

small handful coriander seeds

 

Equipment needed:

mandoline

large glass or ceramic bowl

1 or 2 wide-mouth quart-size mason jars or large crock jar

several smooth, clean stones, 1-2 inches in diameter

 

Rinse the head of cabbage and thinly slice it with a mandoline into a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt per pound of cabbage to start. With clean hands, work the salt into the cabbage, squeezing it and kneading it like bread dough, as it begins to draw the water out of the cabbage. Taste a bit to see if you want to add more salt; add up to 1 more tsp salt per pound to taste and continue to mix until the cabbage is sopping wet.

Then pack the sauerkraut into 1 or two mason jars, depending on how much cabbage you have. You want to leave a couple inches of air at the top of the jar as it will bubble up as it ferments. Really press and pack down the cabbage into the jar(s) so that all the air is pressed out and the cabbage should be covered with water. Then add a small handful of coriander seeds. Take a couple of large stones for each jar and lay them across the top of the cabbage to keep it weighed down. You want to try to keep the cabbage below the water level because it can rot if it is exposed to air.

Close up the jars and leave them to sit on a cool, dark shelf somewhere. That’s it. Check it every couple of days to let out some air (you will see the top of the mason jar puff up) and pack down any cabbage that begins to float above the water. It should smell a little funky but if something has really gone wrong you will be able to tell. Taste it after a couple weeks. If you like your sauerkraut crisp, it will be ready now. Move the jar into the refrigerator for consumption. Otherwise you can let it continue to ferment for up to another month or two or more as the flavors evolve and mature. I can never seem to wait that long so I usually start eating mine after a couple weeks, but really, whenever it suits your palette is fine.

Sauerkraut is a great accompaniment to any meal. I like mine with sausages, roast beef, pulled pork, roast chicken, you name it. It’s a great digestive aperitif and the enzymes aid in the digestion of other foods so your body can absorb more nutrients. My toddler loves it! So if you have kids who are picky about eating their vegetables, this is a great way to try to get them to eat more fresh, raw vegetables and probiotics. I highly recommend it to anyone for good health and good taste!

Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread

Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread

 

My mother asked me if I could adapt her zucchini bread recipe to be gluten-free so she could make some for my niece, who recently found out she has a gluten intolerance. (Zucchini bread is a big thing in Minnesota, where my mother lives.) I kind of came up with a hybrid of her recipe and my recipe for gluten-free banana bread (which I have not posted yet, stay tuned!). I used coconut flour, which I absolutely LOVE in gluten-free sweet breads and cakes and muffins, etc. Coconut flour is expensive but it is so dense that it doesn’t require much for recipes – 1/2 cup at most – so I can make the little bag of flour last for months and multiple batches of baked goods. It is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates so it is a healthy flour alternative. And adding zucchini to a sweet bread recipe is a great way to get your little ones to eat their vegetables!

 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut oil

6 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1 T vanilla

3 cups grated zucchini

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp nutmeg

 

Soften the coconut oil by gently warming over a double boiler, stirring in the honey and vanilla. Beat the eggs and add to the honey, vanilla, and softened coconut oil; blend together with a wire whisk. Press the grated zucchini with a dry paper towel to soak up excess moisture, then combine with the liquid ingredients and mix.

In a separate bowl, sift together the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to the other ingredients and stir.

Grease 3 small or 2 large bread pans with coconut or olive oil. Pour the batter evenly into the bread pans. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Bread is ready when lightly browned and a fork comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Red Lentils With Coconut Milk In The Rice Cooker

Red Lentils In Coconut Milk With Broccoli

 

My 15-month-old daughter is going through a fun phase right now where she spits out all her food. Sometimes she does it when she doesn’t like something, sometimes she stuffs her mouth too full and doesn’t know what to do so she spits it back out, and sometimes if she’s eating one thing and wants to put something else in her mouth but she’s not done chewing the first thing she spits that one out. It’s really stretching my limits as a clean freak! She’s definitely starting to develop likes and dislikes and although she is still a very adventurous eater (a few weeks ago she ate a fried oyster and loved it), she is very particular about what she does and doesn’t want to eat at any particular time. So I am on a quest to find new and exciting foods for her to try that are easy to get down.

A friend suggested cooking red lentils in coconut milk and I thought that sounded yummy. Always looking for ways to make cooking easier, I decided I would try making it in my stainless steel rice cooker. It worked great! It took about 25 minutes and though I had to stir it once while cooking to keep it from getting too thick on the bottom and not cooking evenly, it was still much easier than heating it on the stove top. I added a little turmeric and garlic for flavor, and threw some broccoli on top for about the last 10 minutes to steam, saving me from dirtying another pot. I thought it was absolutely delicious, but my daughter took a couple bites and then proceeded to spit the next one out. Oh well, it was worth a try…

Red Lentils With Coconut Milk In The Rice Cooker

3/4 cup red lentils

1  14-oz can full-fat coconut milk

1 cup stock or water

1/4 tsp sea salt or to taste

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 cloves garlic, pressed

broccoli florets, zucchini or other veggies (optional)

 

Stir the lentils with the coconut milk and water in the rice cooker to keep them from clumping as they absorb water. Add the salt, turmeric and garlic and turn on the rice cooker. Check it after 10-15 minutes and stir once or twice to make sure it is cooking evenly. When it begins to thicken (the last 5-10 minutes or so) you can add some broccoli, zucchini or other veggies to steam as it cooks. The rice cooker will turn off when the lentils are done!

Gluten-free Quinoa Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

 

I was never much into carrot cake before having a child. Now, it seems like the perfect birthday cake or occasional dessert that is so healthy and nutritious, with its high fiber and vegetable content and very low sugar. Since my daughter’s birthday in April, I’ve made it three times, each time making improvements but this last week when we celebrated my husband finishing his masters’ degree I think I perfected the recipe. I happened to run out of almond meal and ended up substituting quinoa flakes, and that made it surprisingly moist and tasty!

I will admit that I made a cream cheese frosting. But I used cultured butter and cream cheese (Nancy’s Organic Cultured Cream Cheese is amazing!) with just a tiny bit of honey.  If you are simply lactose intolerant and can tolerate cultured dairy products, then that frosting is heaven indeed.

 

Quinoa Carrot Cake

1 cup almond meal

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup quinoa flakes

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

1 T cinnamon

1 tsp grated nutmeg

3 cups grated carrots

6 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup olive oil

 

Combine almond meal, flour, quinoa flakes, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and mix in honey and olive oil. Stir in the carrots, then add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch glass baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Allow to cool at room temperature.

 

As for that heavenly cream cheese frosting….

6 oz cultured butter

6 oz cream cheese

2 T honey

Soften the butter and cream cheese at room temperature. Mix together with the honey until smooth. I didn’t even use a hand mixer, I just used a spoon (it is a bit of a workout, but as long as everything’s soft it blends together pretty easily). Spread over the cooled carrot cake and enjoy, refrigerating the leftovers.

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwiches on Gluten-Free Rosemary Rolls

Updated 5-19-2013

Happy spring everyone! This month my daughter turns one, and so far there has been a whirlwind of potlucks, picnics and celebrations, beginning with Easter last weekend. I discovered the perfect barbecue dish for such occasions – pulled pork, slow-cooked in the crock pot. It just cooks all day long and literally falls apart when it’s done, and it melts in your mouth!  Then I picked up some gluten-free rosemary rolls from the gluten-free bakery to make sandwiches, as well as a jar of old-fashioned sauerkraut for the perfect accompaniment.

 

Here’s my spice rub/marinade for the pork:

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp ground cumin

1-2 tsp sea salt (depending on size of the roast)

3 cloves garlic, pressed

 

Take a 4 to 6-lb pork butt roast and score the fat with a sharp knife. Then rub with this mixture. Layer some sliced onion in a crock pot and top it with the roast, add 1/2 cup water or stock, and let it cook all day on low. You will know that it is ready when it starts to just fall apart. Then simply shred it right there in the crock pot and allow it to soak up all the juices from the cooking liquid. Serve it alone or on some gluten-free rolls. You could add BBQ sauce, but you don’t even really need it – the meat is so flavorful from cooking in its own juices all day long!

What Really Causes Celiac Disease?

Hello readers,

Just wanted to share another great piece from the Sunday NY Times about gluten (they are giving it a fair share of attention lately!).

This one is a theory about what really causes celiac disease, based on a study comparing celiac rates among Finnish and Russian populations (who have similar genetics and consume similar varieties of wheat). The rate of celiac disease (and other auto-immune diseases) is much higher among the Finnish population, and scientists attribute that to the fact that the Russians have a more robust microbial culture in their gut. The thinking goes that the better bacteria in the gut reduce inflammation, limiting the reaction to gluten and thus preventing the onset of celiac disease. Just one more reason to take probiotics! And breastfeed your baby! And not be afraid of a little dirt or of your toddler putting dirt in his mouth – that’s one way that our gut gets populated with good bacteria ;)

Read Who Has The Guts For Gluten

Gluten-Free in the NY Times

Hello readers,
Just wanted to pass on this excellent article in the New York Times’ Science section this week about going gluten-free. Finally there is some attention on those of us who don’t officially have celiac but simply have gluten intolerance. Hopefully doctors and scientists are coming to recognize the health benefits those of us gain by eating gluten-free.
Check it out here:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/gluten-free-whether-you-need-it-or-not/?ref=science

Forgive my absence for the past month or so – between the holidays, harsh winter weather, seasonal illnesses, and a teething baby, I have had my hands full of late. I hope to be more active soon. Happy February!

Dairy-Free Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

 

Here’s a super easy recipe for a dairy-free quiche that is perfect for a holiday brunch. In fact, I was planning to take it to a pot-luck brunch this past Sunday but my teething 8-month-old kept me up all night and we didn’t make it to the brunch. The upside was that meant more quiche for us!

 

For this recipe I used a pre-made gluten-free pie crust from Bacano Bakery. I loved how their crust turned out in my Thanksgiving pie and these days I am looking for shortcuts so I was happy to try it again. They may have used some butter in the crust, so if you are super sensitive to butter, check the ingredients in any pre-made crust that you buy. You can also make your own crust. I have a recipe here that you can substitute coconut oil for butter and it works great.

 

It’s not super creamy like a quiche with milk or cheese in it. The coconut flour gives it a slight cake-like texture and adds a bit of sweetness to the savory spinach and onions. The key to really good flavor (and nutrition) is to use really good eggs. You can tell from the bright yellow hue in the photograph above that I used pasture-raised eggs.

 

Anyway, it’s a tasty breakfast or lunch idea that’s fairly easy to make if you have the time to bake it. I hope you enjoy.

 

Ingredients:

 

1 pre-made gluten-free pie crust (or make your own from my recipe here)

6 eggs

3/4 cup almond milk

3 T coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sliced shitake mushrooms

small bunch of fresh spinach leaves

1 small onion, diced

1 T olive oil

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the pre-made crust for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden-brown. While it is baking, saute the onions, mushrooms and spinach in olive oil until tender. Remove the pie crust from the oven. Whisk the eggs, almond milk, coconut flour, baking power and salt together. Stir in the spinach and mushroom mixture and then pour everything into the pie crust. Bake for about 45 minutes, until firm.

 

4-6 Servings

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all are enjoying some pre-Thanksgiving baking time! Thanks to Bacano Bakery, this year I’m making my maple-pecan pie with a pre-made gluten-free crust.

Pecan Pie

Tomorrow we are off to a friend’s house and I’m bringing my cranberry-wild rice salad (minus the buckwheat this time). The wild rice is cooking in my new stainless-steel rice cooker as I type this.

Hope you all have safe travels, happy family visits, and a day filled with gratitude for all the wonderful things in your life. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Gluten-Free Grains In The Rice Cooker

Rice-Cooker Amaranth Cereal

Until now I have been wary of using a rice cooker, because of the toxic chemicals in the non-stick coating. However, last week I bought a new rice cooker with a stainless steel bowl and it is changing my cooking world.  Not only does it cook perfect brown rice, but I’ve discovered it can cook all kinds of gluten-free grains easily in one no-mess, low-maintenance pot.

No, I have not received any compensation from the company for promoting this rice cooker, but here it is - the Aroma Simply Stainless Rice Cooker. They come in two sizes; this compact one makes up to 6 cups of cooked rice or other grains and is perfect for making small batches of hot cereal like the amaranth porridge, above.

I love to have a steaming bowl of hot amaranth or teff cereal on a crisp morning but making it on the stove top requires a lot of stirring and leaves a huge mess afterward in the pan and on the stove. So today I tried it in the rice cooker instead, and it was a simple two-step process: add the ingredients and set to cook. That’s all. Leave it alone until the button pops up to let you know it is done. It took about a half hour altogether, so you can take a shower or read the paper or whatever. (Now I can keep my eyes on my 6-month-old without having to constantly keep an eye on the stove.) And it cleans up easily.  You would think that stainless steel would be messier than non-stick, but au contraire. This one comes with a wooden spatula that scrapes the food cleanly from the bottom, where it wasn’t really that sticky anyway.

It’s easy to cook grains in the rice cooker. All you have to do is measure 1/4 cup of dry grains per serving, and then fill up to the water line on the bowl for that number of servings. (Note: If you’re making quinoa, be sure to rinse the grains well first. Also, use about 1/3 less water.) Add a pinch of sea salt and a pat of butter or a bit of olive or coconut oil and set to start. Once it begins to boil, it will cook for about the same amount of time you would cook it on the stove top. It automatically figures out when it is done and shuts off, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Recipe Ideas: If you’re making a breakfast porridge, add some cinnamon or raisins or dates or walnuts. Or all of the above. Be creative. I’m going to have fun coming up with some fun recipes for more savory meals in the coming weeks. Look for more posts to come and let me know if you have any great rice-cooker recipe ideas!

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