Diet


gluten free millet meatloaf

Millet Meatloaf

This simple loaf is a meal in itself.  The grain and vegetables disappear and even picky children love it.  The recipe is very versatile. For a traditional meatloaf try ground beef with carrots, celery, onion and rosemary.  With ground turkey try sage and thyme.  Many of the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cabbage work well in this recipe.

-       2 lb of ground grass fed beef or lamb or beef, or organic ground turkey

-       2 cups of minced vegetables (equal parts onion, carrot and celery work well)

-       ½ cup of millet (or use corn meal)

-       1 ½ teaspoons of salt.

-       2 teaspoon of fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage or basil, or use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs

Grind the millet in to coarse flour in a coffee grinder or food processor. Place all of the vegetables and the herbs in a food processor and chop them to a fine mince, or mince them by hand.  In a large bowl combine the minced vegetables, millet flour, salt, herbs and meat and mix them well.  Form the mixture into a loaf and place it on a cookie sheet. You may top it with catsup or bacon slices (before baking)if desired.  Bake the loaf at 400 degrees F. for ~ 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F.  Cool the meatloaf for 10 minutes before slicing it.  Serve it with roasted brussel sprouts and a green salad. This loaf freezes well after slicing so try making a double batch.

crunchy cruciferous brussel sprouts

Easy Roasted Brussel Sprouts or Broccoli

This is a delicious preparation of brussel sprouts when they are in season.  Roasting them yields crispy outer leaves with a soft, sweet center.  It is also a great way to prepare broccoli year round.

-       2 cups of brussel sprouts or broccoli florets

-       2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil.

-       ½ teaspoon of salt

-       (optional) ½ teaspoon of dried thyme

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the brussel sprouts by cutting off the rough base and removing any tough outer leaves.  Toss them in a bowl with the oil and salt.  Spread them on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and bake them for ~30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The vegetables are ready when they are easily speared with a fork.  Serve them hot or at room temperature.

Sugar is essential for life, but chronically elevated blood sugar leads to a host of health problems (see the recent post “What About Blood Sugar” http://solutionsnaturopathiccare.com/2012/03/06/what-about-blood-sugar/). Luckily, diet has a huge impact on blood sugar. What we eat and how we eat it can make the difference between health and disease. There are three major ways to lower blood sugar with diet – reduce the consumption of simple sugars, reduce the consumption of complex carbohydrates and slow the digestion of complex carbohydrates.

avoid soda

To understand how the foods we eat affect blood sugar it is important to understand the difference between simple sugars and complex carbohydrates. Most of the sugar in our blood is a specific type of sugar called glucose*. In its simple form (a single molecule) glucose is found in fruits and vegetables and in concentrated sweeteners like sugar or honey. Complex carbohydrates (aka starches) are long chains of glucose molecules. They are found in a variety of foods including rice, pasta, and potatoes. When complex carbohydrates are digested the chains are broken and glucose is released.

Simple sugars are absorbed quickly; it takes very little time for them to enter the blood stream and raise blood sugar. Because complex carbohydrates need to be broken down before they can be absorbed, they enter the blood stream more slowly. Certain foods slow the digestion of complex carbohydrates when they are eaten at the same time. These are foods rich in fats, proteins and fiber. There are many benefits to delaying carbohydrate digestion. The energy released from the food is slow and steady. Because food stays in the stomach longer hunger is abated and there are no sharp rises in insulin leading to increased fat production .

Here are some examples.

-         A soda (or fruit juice) has lots of concentrated simple sugars. These will be absorbed quickly and cause the blood sugar to rise quickly.

-        A bowl of brown rice will be digested fairly quickly and will cause blood sugar to rise ~ 1-2 hours after eating.

-        A bowl of brown rice that is eaten with a piece of chicken or fish and some olive oil will be digested slowly over ~ 3-4 hours. The sugar from the rice will be absorbed over a long period of time and there will not be a sharp rise in blood sugar.

balancing protein and complex carbohydrates can balance blood sugar

Eating in a balanced way can lead to sustained energy and facilitate weight loss. Most importantly, keeping blood sugar level and low can help to prevent numerous health problems. Don’t miss the recipes in next weeks post!

*There are two other types of simple sugars – fructose and galactose. These are metabolized somewhat differently than glucose. In order to keep things simple and clear we will not be discussing them in today’s post.

Pork and Pumpkin Stew

This simple stew is satisfying and delicious.  It is best with an heirloom variety of pork like Berkshire.  Pork has a reputation for being unhealthy. Indeed factory farmed pork is full of unsavory chemicals.  Organic, vegetable-fed pork from small family farms is a much better choice. Pigs serve and important function on small farms, eating the scraps that people don’t want.  Because pigs are not ruminant (grazing) animals they don’t produce very high levels of greenhouse gasses.  Raised in this way, pork is lower in saturated fats and many toxins than either beef or lamb.  Of course, it is always a good idea to trim the fat off of meat before cooking.

-          ~ 3 lb. of stewing pork, such as loin chops or Boston butte

-          2 teaspoons of sea salt

-          1 medium onion, chopped

-          2 cloves of garlic minced

-          1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, minced

-          1 tablespoon of olive oil

-          1 large bunch of kale or collard greens, chopped

-          ½ of a sweet kabocha pumpkin (or use another type of winter squash) peeled, seeded and chopped onto 1 inch cubes

-          (Optional) 1 cup of additional chopped vegetables such as celery, carrots, turnips or green beans .

-          3 cups of water

Dice the pork into bite sized cubes and toss the pieces with the salt, coating them evenly.  Set them aside.  Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pot.  Add the onions and sauté them over medium heat until they are golden brown.  Add the garlic and rosemary and continue to cook the mixture until the garlic just begins to brown.  Add the meat cubes and stir them into the onion-garlic mixture.  Continue to cook the meat uncovered for ~ 5 minutes stirring frequently.  Add the water and kale.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stir it well and then reduce it to a simmer.  Cover the pot and allow the stew to cook over low heat for ~ 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Taste the stew and add more salt if desired.  Then add the pumpkin and additional vegetables.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer again.  Cover the pot and cook the stew for an additional 30 minutes.  Test the meat and make sure it is tender; if not simmer it for an additional 30 minutes.  Salt to taste and serve. This stew may be served alone or over a whole grain like brown rice, buckwheat, millet, or quinoa.

Variation #1 – Instead of pork, try grass-fed beef or organic turkey thighs

Variation # 2 – Replace the rosemary with 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.

Pickled Beets

This tangy side dish is an excellent liver and gall bladder tonic.  The brine is lite.  If you want a stronger pickle just increase the ratio of vinegar to water and add a bit more salt.

-          6 medium beets washed and trimmed, but not peeled

-          1 cup of apple cider vinegar

-          1 cup of filtered water

-          1 teaspoon of salt

Place the beets in a pot with water to cover them.  Bring the water to a boil and then simmer them for ~ 30 minutes, until they are tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain the water and allow the beets to cool to room temperature.  Peel the beets and dice them (note: Beets should slip out of their skins easily after they are cooked.) Place them in glass container with a tight fitting lid.  Mix the apple cider vinegar, water and salt together.  Pour the brine over the beets and stir it well.  Refrigerate the mixture for 2 or more days shaking it occasionally. Remove the beets from the brine before serving.

Darkly colored berries are a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They also contain bioflavinoid components that work with vitamin C to strengthen blood vessels and connective tissue. Frozen berries are almost as healthy as fresh ones, so indulge all year long!

Blueberry pancakes

These protein rich pancakes use sprouted quinoa as the batter base. They have a wonderful spongy texture and a rich nutty flavor.

  • 1 cup of quinoa soaked for 8 hours or overnight
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (melted coconut oil or butter is best)
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of arrowroot starch, carob powder, or rice flour sifted together with ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ cup of blueberries (thaw and drain if using frozen berries) or try blackberries

Rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer and allow it to drain for ~5 minutes. Place the quinoa, water, salt, oil and vinegar in a blender. Start on a low setting and increase the speed to high, processing it until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter into a bowl and add the flour and baking soda. Quickly mix the wet and dry ingredients until there are no lumps. Over medium heat melt some butter or coconut oil in heavy bottom skillet (well seasoned cast iron is best). Pour the batter onto the hot skillet using a ladle or measuring cup. Generously decorate the tops of the pancakes with blueberries. As soon as bubbles form on the edges of the pancakes flip them over and cook them on the opposite side for 3-4 minutes. Remove them from the pan and serve immediately.

Raspberry Ice Cream or Popsicles

This simple recipe is low in carbohydrates and high in nutrition.

  • 1 can of organic coconut milk
  • 2 cups of organic frozen raspberries, or other fruit
  • 2 tablespoons of honey or 10 drops of white stevia liquid
  • pinch of salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process them until the raspberries are pureed. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker or Popsicle molds. Enjoy!

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For sustained energy and focus it is important to eat protein for breakfast. The more traditional carbohydrate laden meals may provide a quick burst of energy, but it is followed by fatigue and hunger. For people who don’t like to eat much in the morning a simple protein shake will suffice. If you prefer a more filling meal try one of the options below. And remember you don’t have to eat traditional breakfast foods in the morning. Dinner leftovers, warming soups or stews are all great options.

Tofu Scramble

This tofu and veggie saute is savory and satisfying for breakfast or brunch. It is a tasty substitute for eggs, but is delicious in its own right. Be sure your ingredients are organic, especially the tofu. Non-organic soy is genetically modified!

  • 1 tablespoon of virgin olive or coconut oil
  • 1 lb of firm tofu
  • ½ large red or yellow onion, minced
  • 1 clove of minced or crushed garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons of wheat-free tamari or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 2 cups of loose leaf spinach or 1 cup of diced broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Crumble your tofu in a bowl and mix it with the tamari and turmeric (be careful, turmeric stains). Heat the oil in a large heavy bottom skillet; cast iron works well. Add the onion to the oil and sautee it over medium heat until it is soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and stir it until it is just starting to brown (be careful not to burn the garlic!) Add the tofu, vegetables and water. Mix all of the ingredients and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Continue to cook the mixture for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the tofu is heated through. Serves 2 as a meal and 4 as a side dish with toast or rice.

Simple crock pot stew

Stew for breakfast? It may sound strange but a hearty stew fits all of the criteria for a perfect breakfast. It is warm, nourishing and high in protein. Long slow cooking makes all of the ingredients eat to digest and blends the flavors perfectly. You can make this stew overnight in a crock pot or in a low heat oven. For oven cooking you will need an enameled cast-iron pot such as a Le Creuset casserole dish. If you are using turkey or chicken do not use skinless breasts; the flavor is too bland. Instead use thighs or mixed pieces.

  • 2 lb of grass fed beef, lamb, or organic turkey or chicken
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • 1 large bunch of kale *
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cups of diced carrots
  • 1-2 cups of diced vegetables of choice such as zucchini, celery or peas
  • ½ cup of brown rice or quinoa (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano

If you are using beef or lamb dice the meat into 1 inch cubes. For poultry it is fine to use whole pieces such as legs, thighs or breasts. Place all of the ingredients into a crock pot or enameled cast iron pan and mix them well. If using a crock pot turn it into high until it comes to a boil. Then reduce it to low and let it cook 8 more hours or overnight. If using and enameled pot make sure the lid is on a tight and then cook it in a 250 degree F oven for 8-12 hours. Check it periodically to make sure it hasn’t run out of water. Stir the stew, add salt if desired and serve.

* All of your vegetables should be organic if possible, especially the kale. Commercial kale has very high levels of pesticide residues.

In the quest for a healthy diet, breakfast is one the most important meals of the day. It can also be the most challenging. It is ideal to start your day with something that is high in protein, low in sugar and easy to digest. Unfortunately that description doesn’t fit most of the the common American breakfast foods. Even foods we think of as healthy, like oatmeal or whole grain toast, lack protein and are loaded with carbohydrates. Without adequate protein the carbohydrates in a meal are quickly digested and energy drops. A breakfast of unbalanced carbohydrates will leave a person hungry, and tired within a few hours. No wonder so many people reach for a pastry and a latte mid-morning.

 

Fortunately, there are plenty of breakfast options that are tasty, filling and energizing. For people on the go, a shake or smoothie is a great option. These drinks combine nutrient dense fruits with protein powder and super foods (see the “immune smoothie” recipe in the 10-30-11 blog post) . They are easily prepared, portable and can be sipped through the morning.

Egg or tofu “scrambles” are good choices if there are no allergies to eggs or soy. Any number of vegetables can be added for a nutritional boost. Scrambles are easy to make in large batches and can feed a a group of people at breakfast or brunch.

Leftovers from lunch or dinner are fine breakfast foods. Often these food are more balanced in protein and carbohydrates than the standard morning fare. Soups and stew are especially good because they are warm, nourishing and easy to digest.

If you are still wondering what to make, don’t despair.   Read next weeks blog for some healthy breakfast recipes.

Turkey and Rice Stew

warming winter soups for comfort and health, recipes by Dara Thompson N.D.

Are you wondering what to do with that leftover turkey?  This nourishing one pot meal will warm your belly and heart.  The trick to a tasty home made stew is to include the skin and bones when making the stock; they contain all of the flavor.  If you are on a low carbohydrate diet, just leave out the rice.

-       8 cups of water or soup stock

-       4-5 lb. of leftover turkey; include any skin, bones and ripping you have leftover 

-       1 bay leaf

-       2 strips of wakame seaweed

-       1 t. sea salt (you may need to decrease this amount if you are using a salted stock)

-       2 cups of diced carrots into bite sized pieces

-       2 cups of diced celery into bite sized pieces

-       1 cup of  finely chopped onions

-       ½ cup of brown rice, soaked overnight and rinsed well (or try millet or quinoa)

-       1 t. dried sage, thyme or rosemary (these may be used singly or in combination)

Place the turkey, water, bay leaf and seaweed and salt into a large heavy bottomed pot or crock-pot.  If you are using a large turkey carcass it may not be fully covered by the water.  That is fine; it will cook in the steam as long as your lid is tight. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Covered the pot and cook the meat over low heat for ~ 3 hours on the stove or overnight  in the crock-pot. Remove the turkey from the stock with a slotted spoon and allow it to cool to room temperature. Discard the bay leaf. The seaweed should be dissolved into the stock by now but if any pieces remain, dice them and return them to the stock. When the turkey has cooled, remove the meat from the skin and bones.  Dice the meat and add it back to the stock.  Bring the stock and meat back to a boil and add the rice, onions and celery and dried herbs. Reduce the stew to a simmer and cook it for 30 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for ~20 minutes more.  If too much of the water remains you may want to boil the stew uncovered for the last 20 minutes.  The carrots and rice will be soft when it is done.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve. This stew freezes well.

Note: Feel free to add more vegetables such as chard, peas or zuchinni

Millet Mash with Sage

cruciferous cauliflower masquerades as mashed potatoes - recipes by Dara Thompson N.D.

This is a great mashed potato substitute for people who are sensitive to nightshades.  Cauliflower and millet are bland so they take on the flavor of anything that they are cooked with.  Try this mash with gravy, an herbal pesto or just melted butter.

-       1 medium sized head of cauliflower

-       2 sprigs of fresh sage (other fresh herbs such as rosemary may be used if desired.)

-       1 cup of millet soaked 8 hours, rinsed and drained

-       ½ t. sea salt

-       2 T. olive oil, or butter

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Break the cauliflower into small florets and chop the stem.  Add cauliflower sage and salt to the boiling water and allow it to return to a boil.  Add the millet.  Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer covered for 30 -40 minutes. The dish is done when the millet is soft and the cauliflower breaks apart easily with a fork.  Remove the sage sprigs and add the butter.  Mash the mixture with a potato masher or hand mixer until creamy, adding more water or milk if neccesary.  Be sure to serve the mash while it is warm because it becomes very firm as it cools.

For the best flavor in your holiday recipes it pays to use a little fat.  Oils improve the flavor and texture of foods.  They also improve satiety, the feeling of satisfaction and fullness.  This prevents us from overeating and makes high quality, organic oils a healthy addition to the holiday table.

Dairy free ice cream recipe by Dara Thompson, Naturopathic Doctor

Ginger-Vanilla Ice Cream

Coconut milk is an excellent substitute for cow’s milk in ice cream and other frozen desserts.  Coconut is high in saturated fat, but over 60% of it is medium chain triglycerides.  This easy to digest oil has long been used to correct malnutrition.  Because coconut has a naturally sweet flavor, very little additional sweetener is required.

-       2 cans (~3 cups) of organic, unsweetened coconut milk (not lite!)*

-       2 tablespoons of raw, organic honey**

-       2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

-       ¼ teaspoon of sea salt

-       ½ cup of candied ginger, minced (This is for ginger lovers!  Feel free to use less.)

-       ½  cup of chopped, toasted macadamia nuts or other unsalted nuts (optional)

Place the coconut milk, honey, vanilla, and salt in a blender and process for ~ 30 seconds until the mixture is well blended.  Place the liquid in an ice cream maker and process it until it is starting to freeze but is still soft.  Add the nuts and ginger and continue to process until done.  If you do not own an ice cream maker you can freeze the coconut milk mixture in popsicle molds.

*  I like Native Forest brand because their cans are BPA free.

** Do not serve raw honey to children under the one year of age.

Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Thyme a recipe by Dara Thompson, Naturopathic Doctor

Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Thyme

This is a variation on the classic recipe “Green Beans Almondine”.  The preparation also works well with brussel sprouts or broccoli.  If you don’t eat butter you may substitute olive oil and a pinch of salt.

-       2 cups of green beans cut into 2 inch pieces

-       ½ cup of hazelnuts chopped

-       1 teaspoons of fresh or ½ teaspoon of dried thyme.

-       2 tablespoons of organic butter

-       Add salt and pepper to taste

Steam the green beans for~ 10 minutes, until they are tender.  While the green beans are cooking melt the butter in a medium sized sauté pan.  Add the hazelnuts and sauté them over medium heat until they are golden brown ~ 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the thyme and remove the butter mixture from the heat.  Add the green beans and mix well.  Serve this dish warm.

 Shitake mushrooms support the immune system says Dara Thompson A naturopathic Doctor in Hilo, Hawaii

Shitake Mushroom Gravy

Savory shitake mushrooms are rich in immune stimulating polysaccharides.  Maitake mushrooms may also be used.  Components in these mushrooms have been shown to stimulate white blood cell activity.  Be sure to use the soaking liquid. It contains most of the medicine and the flavor.

-       ¼ c. dried shitake mushrooms soaked for at least two hours in ½ c. hot water

-       ½ c. each minced onions and celery

-       4 fresh sage leaves or 1 t. dried sage

-       1 sprig of thyme leaves or ½ t. dried thyme

-       1 T. coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee

-       1-2 t. Bragg Liquid Aminos (if you are very sensitive to soy, use ¼ – ½ t. salt instead)

-       2 c. “milk”; you may use any unsweetened milk or milk substitute.  I think that homemade cashew milk and store bought unsweetened oat milk have the best texture

-       1 T. arrowroot starch dissolved in 2 T. water

Remove the shitakes from their soaking liquid and reserve it.  Remove the coarse stems from the shitakes and slice the mushroom caps.  If you are using fresh sage and thyme remove the coarse stems and mince the herbs. Add the oil to a heavy bottomed pan and add the mushrooms, herbs and vegetables.  Sauté the mixture over medium heat for ~ 10 minutes, until everything is lightly browned.  Add the soaking liquid, 1 T. Aminos and simmer it covered for 5 min. Add the milk and warm but do not boil the mixture. Taste it and add more Braggs if you prefer a stronger, saltier flavor. Bring the gravy to a boil and quickly add the arrowroot rue, stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture thickens, remove it from the heat and serve it with grain, mashed potatoes, meat or poultry.  This recipe makes 3 cups.

Power packed immune smoothie by Dara Thompson a naturopathic doctor in Hilo, Hawaii

Immune Smoothie

This smoothie is designed to enhance and protect the immune system. The berries supply concentrated flavonoids. The pineapple, kiwi and papaya are rich in proteolytic enzymes to reduce inflammation. The nuts and seeds supply essential omega 6 fatty acids and protein. The flax or fish oil supply omega 3 fatty acids. The ginger and mint stimulate digestive function. It is meant to be gently cleansing, nourishing and easy to digest.  All of the ingredients should be organic if at all possible.  This recipe makes two servings. If you are only serving one or your blender is two small, just reduce the quantities by half.

-       2 cups of dark berries such as blueberries, raspberries, dark cherries, etc. (these may be purchased frozen)

-       1 cup of cubed pineapple, kiwi, papaya or other low sugar fruit in season

-       2 cups of rice milk, soy milk, kefir or coconut milk*

-       1/4 cup of raw nuts or seeds such as hemp seeds or almonds, or 2 tablespoons of nut butter

-       1 T. cold pressed flax oil, or 1 teaspoons of cod liver oil

-       2 slices of fresh ginger or a few sprigs of fresh mint

-       2 T. of high quality protein powder such as organic rice protein or hormone free whey protein

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree, starting at low speed and increasing to high. This recipe is fairly thick. If you prefer a thinner smoothie, just add more liquid.  Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator, but should be consumed the same day.

  • Rice milk is a low fat, hypoallergenic milk substitute.
  • Soy milk is a thick high protein milk substitute, but many people are sensitive to soy
  • Kefir is a cultured dairy product with very little lactose and lots of beneficial bacteria. It is suitable for lactose intolerant individuals, but not those with an allergy to milk protein.
  • Coconut milk is especially good for weight gain and increasing nutrition through its high quality, easily digested fats, medium chain triglycerides.

Quinoa Smoked Salmon Salad

Packed with protein and calcium, quinoa is quick and easy to prepare.  Because it retains its shape after cooking, it is a good gluten-free substitute for bulgur in tabouleh and other marinated salads.  It can also be used in place of rice or pasta in many dishes.  Quinoa has a bitter coating, so always be sure to rinse it well before cooking.

quinoa recipes by Dara Thompson a Naturopathic Doctor in Hilo Hawaii

-       1 cup of quinoa

-       2 cups of water

-       ¼ teaspoon sea salt

-       6 oz. smoked salmon, diced (hot smoked or lox)

-       2 tablespoons of olive oil

-       1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

-       1 cup of cooked green beans, cut into 1 inch long pieces

-       ½ cup of red onion, thinly sliced into half moons

-       1 cup of toasted walnuts

For the best results, you should cook the quinoa ahead of time and cool it before making the salad.  This prevents the grains from becoming gummy.  To prepare the quinoa* rinse it well in a mesh strainer.  Boil the water and the salt in a saucepan and then add the quinoa while stirring.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and allow the grain to cook for 15-20 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed.  Cool the grain and then mix in all of the other ingredients.  The salad tastes best if it is prepared at least 2 hours before serving so that the flavors can marry.  This dish works well as a main course or a side dish.  It is even better the next day and makes a great portable lunch.

Variation:  Smoked salmon provides both protein and salt in this recipe.  For vegetarians or vegans you can substitute 1 cup of cooked black lentils and ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese (cow, goat or sheep), or ¼ cup of chopped salt cured olives.

* For an energy saving method for cooking quinoa, soak the grain for 8-12 hours in enough water to cover.  Before cooking, rinse and drain it well.  Because it has absorbed some of the soaking water, you will only need to boil 1½ cups of cooking water.  Add the grain to the boiling water, simmer it covered for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat.  Keep it covered and allow it to sit for 10 more minutes before cooling.  Presoaking grains and seeds also makes them easier to digest.

 

Thumbprint Cookies

I would love to give credit to the original creator of this recipe, but it has been circulating around health food and macrobiotic circles for as long as I can remember.  That is not surprising, it’s free of dairy, eggs and sugar, and still delicious.  There are so many variations that it can be made to suit almost everyone’s diet.  The version below is gluten-free.

gluten-free thumbprint recipe by Dara Thompson a Naturopathic Doctor in Hilo Hawaii

-       1 cup of rice or millet flour

-       1 cup of gluten free oat flour

-       1 cup of roasted almonds or hazelnuts  

-       ½ cup of coconut oil

-       ½ cup of maple syrup

-       1 teaspoon of cinnamon

-       ½ teaspoon of salt

-       all-fruit jam

Grind the nuts in a food processor or coffee grinder.  A coarse grind will give you a nutty, crunchy cookie; a fine grind will yield a more delicate dough.  Mix the nuts with the flour, cinnamon and salt.  Add the oil and maple syrup and stir until the dough is well mixed.  If the dough is still dry and crumbly, add ¼ cup of water.  Take @ ¼ cup of dough, shape it into a ball and then press it into a thick disk shape.  Place it on a cookie sheet and press your thumb into the center of the disk, making an indentation.  Repeat this with the rest of the dough and then fill each thumbprint with jam.  Bake the cookies in a 350 degree F oven for 20 – 25 minutes until the edges are brown and the jam has bubbled.  Cool them for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Variations: This recipe is so versatile.  It can be made with any flour combination, any nuts or seeds, any liquid sweetener and any oil.  For example you could use all rice flour, shredded coconut, butter and honey.  For a less sweet cookie, substitute juice for the sweetener and fruit puree for the jam. It also makes a great pre-baked pie crust.  Just press the dough into a pie pan, bake it for 30 minutes and cool it before adding a no-cook filling like fresh fruit and whipped cream.  Experiment and enjoy!

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