Practical, healthful eating and living.

Mix-ins for Oatmeal November 29, 2013

People tend to think oatmeal is a lot of trouble, but it can be made in big batches. Simply store your cooked oatmeal in the fridge and in the morning, scoop a serving into a bowl, top with milk, and heat it in the microwave.

Screen shot 2013-11-23 at 8.14.01 PMEven better, you can add your favorite toppings on the day you make the big batch, thus saving even more time in the morning. I prefer steel-cut oatmeal.

Here are some of my favorite mix-ins:

  • Cocoa nibs
  • Banana slices
  • Dehydrated strawberries (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Ground flax seed
  • Grated or chopped fresh apple
  • Fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries or blackberries. If you add them while the oatmeal is still hot, they’ll steam and cook a little, which helps them last longer.
  • Chopped dried apricots, blueberries or any dried fruit
  • Walnuts, pecans, ground almonds. Sometimes I even use pistachios!

How to make a batch of steel-cut oatmeal:

1 cup steel-cut oats

2 1/2 cups of water

dash of salt

I like to rinse my oatmeal before cooking it. I’m a gluten-free person, and this way any dust from other grains gets washed away. (Note, I am VERY diligent about the rinsing. I put the dry cup of oats in a deep bowl, cover with cold water and swish it around, then slowly pour the water out. The oats are heavy enough so that they don’t fall out of the bowl if you empty the water out gently. I repeat this about 20 times in order to feel confident that any gluten contaminants have been washed away. If you’re not concerned about gluten, maybe rinse the oats 2-3 times just to wash away dust.)

Put the oats, water and dash of salt into a heavy pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, turn down the heat and simmer for about 40-60 minutes. Sometimes I just turn off the heat after about 20 minutes, keep the pot covered, and let the pot sit until all the water has been absorbed.

Option 2: Use a rice cooker! So easy and the clean-up is easier, too. (Follow your rice cooker’s instructions.)


Sites I’m Grateful For November 22, 2013

Going gluten free is the best thing I’ve ever done. A lot of people mistakenly assume that it’s a health tip that anyone can try. I’ve learned that people who don’t truly get sick from gluten may miss out on key nutrients if they go gluten free. But for me, it’s not a choice. My body completely rejects gluten, every bit as much as a a body allergic to shellfish, or peanuts would.

Living gluten free is a lot of work. I cook almost all my own food. Travel is limited unless I have confidence that I can truly steer clear of gluten on the road. I carry my own emergency food stash with me where ever I go, even if it’s just out for errands.

I don’t know what I’d do without the bloggers below. They provide me with delicious recipes that are safe for me, and easy to make. They provide me with variety, and expertise, and their online sharing is a generous gift.

1. Elana’s Pantry

The simplest gluten free recipes for breads, cookies and desserts that I’ve found. Lots of good tips on Paleo cooking. Her recipes always turn out and I get lots of compliments especially when I take them to a potluck.

2. Angela’s Kitchen

Angela is a busy mom with a gluten-free household to feed. She is organized and a genius with pre-prep. One of my favorites from her site is a tip to buy a month’s worth of chicken, then make three or four different marinades, divide the chicken among the marinades and then freeze until ready to bake. Quick, easy, nutritious meals. Much more tasty than store-bought any day.

3. David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz is a professional chef based in Paris. He travels a lot and takes amazing photos of food markets, restaurants, dishes and his own cooking. Not every recipe he posts is within my range of skill or gluten free, but his guidance is inspiring and visiting his site like taking a little trip without leaving home. Both last year and this year he’s happened to provide naturally gluten-free cookie recipes just in time for the holidays. Last year it was a hazelnut cookie. This year it was almond-flour based amaretti. Both recipes were delicious, elegant and perfect for winter celebrations. I also love his ice cream recipes (I have an ice cream maker), and yes, there’s a part of me that wants to be an American chef in Paris, too.


Calcium-Rich Molasses Latte November 16, 2013

Filed under: Easy food prep,Energy,Gluten free,Recipes — beansandyoga @ 10:22 pm
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Most women know they’re supposed to get a LOT of calcium. The National Institute of Health recommends 1000 mgs of calcium per day. That translates into over three glasses of milk per day, or two and a half cups of yogurt, or four and a half cups of broccoli.

Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 10.13.33 PM

The trouble is, that is way more than I am inclined to eat in a day, even if I were to have a combination of milk, yogurt, and broccoli servings over the course of a few meals.

Personally, I haven’t found a calcium supplement I like. They’re too sugary, they leave a bad taste in my mouth. I’d rather eat real food. 

Therefore, I have invented a molasses latte. One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains 137 mg of calcium. If you combine that with milk, and other natural calcium sources throughout the day, you’ll get closer to that daily recommended amount. And given the average size of a latte today, you might even have two small, home-made ones, or perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a double-sized cup at home in which you can make a “tall” or “large” sized latte for yourself.


1/4 cup milk

6 oz. hot coffee

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

pinch of dried ginger

Pour the milk into your coffee mug and warm it in the microwave. Top it off with fresh, hot coffee. Stir in the molasses. Add a pinch of ginger.

Molasses is also rich in iron, potassium and manganese, making it one of the more nutrient dense foods around. (That’s a good thing!)


Life Progress: Nutrition, Kohlrabi, Gluten Free Body November 8, 2013

KohlrabiI tried a new food today; kohlrabi. It was amazing. First, I sliced a tray full and roasted thin slices of kohlrabi in olive oil. But I still had a lot left. So then I made a cream of kohlrabi soup. Amazing.

Two things led up to this adventure.

The first is that I enrolled in a college nutrition course. This is THE best investment I have ever made in my health. After twenty-plus years of blank stares from doctors when I was first struggling with the symptoms of gluten sensitivity, not knowing the cause, and then another five years of blank stares after letting doctors know that I can’t handle gluten, I have made life-changing breakthroughs that solve a lot of mysteries.

Vitamin A for eyes? You need to eat things like carrots and butternut or acorn squash with a little fat, or else your body can’t absorb it. Noticed your eyesight deteriorating lately? You might want to try having a few extra carrots w/ olive-oil based salad dressing, or squash with a pat of butter on top.

One key variable I learned about is that if your body isn’t handling gluten, then the mechanisms that absorb all the other nutrients are essentially blocked, shut down, wilted, rendered useless with regard to absorbing other nutrients.

Had a few bloody noses lately? When you get a paper cut do you spout like a fountain? Vitamin K is essential to helping blood clot. It’s so essential that newborns get a shot of vitamin K right away when they’re born. If they didn’t get it, and got a minor cut, they could bleed to death. Go ahead, check it out.
That’s what my college nutrition book says, and I believe it. Why? Because unstoppable flowing blood has been around in my world for quite a while.

None of these things ever get connected when I talk to doctors. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s to be your own detective, and take charge of your own health.

So kohlrabi. The other motive behind kohlrabi is that I hear Lynn Rosetto Casper recommend it on a radio show this week. She gave some tips on how to use it: mashed with butter like potatoes, roasted, or in a cream based soup.

Finally, in my nutrition class, I learned that variety is key. I’m inclined to fall into ruts. I’ll eat the same thing everyday for months before I get sick of it. But my nutrition class encourages variety. Not just seasonally, but daily, too.

So I’ve started branching out. I’ve started taking risks. I’ve started bringing home one new fruit or vegetable from the store each week.

Since I’ve begun, I’ve discovered blackstrap molasses for calcium, cocoa nibs for antioxidants, increased my fish and flaxseed for omega-3s, and gone on a few adventures.


1 cup chopped onion
1-2 stalks of chopped celery
1 kohlrabi root, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
2-3 tablespoons butter*
4 cups broth of your choice
1/4 cup corn starch
salt and pepper to taste

Melt a little butter in a soup pot. (Butter is making a comeback, it’s not as bad for you as was once thought.)

Saute the onion and celery for a few minutes.
Add the cornstarch and stir to make a roux. ( A pasty sort of mix of the butter and cornstarch. Cornstarch is gluten free. Most traditional recipes use wheat flour.)

Add the kohlrabi chunks. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and stir well to mix the broth with the butter/corn starch mixture.

Cover and heat until boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender. Please be careful with the hot liquids! You can let the soup cool a bit. It won’t hurt.

Once blended, return to the stove and add about 1-2 cups of milk or cream. (Remember, fat helps your body absorb the great nutrients in kohlrabi, which is a good source of Vitamin A. (That’s good for your eyesight!)

Heat until warm, but do not boil. Boiling ruins a cream-based soup, so I’m told by the “Joy of Cooking.”

Taste for seasonings. Maybe top with a little freshly ground pepper. Garnish with chopped green onion or parsely, if you like.

Hint: When you bring home fresh herbs, green onion or bunches of parsley, chop it all up right away and store it in a covered container in the fridge. It’s SO handy for adding to eggs, sauces, pizza, salad, you name it. Just do it. You’ll be glad.

*Butter — a lot of chefs will say that when making a milk based dish, butter enhances the flavor better than other options like olive oil. Suit yourself, but butter is making a comeback. It’s also a source of Vitamin D. Finally, stop and consider whether you feel full and more satisfied (thus eating less) when you eat something with a little normal, natural fat in it. I know I do.

That’s it!


Fresh Strawberries May 11, 2013

sliced strawberriesStrawberries are in season and the bright red berries have been greeting me at every grocery store the last few weeks. Sometimes I’ll go through a container right away, but most of the time I’d rather have just a couple as a quick snack, or one or two sliced over my breakfast oatmeal.

Strawberries tend to spoil quickly. Here are some tips to help them last 3-4 days.

1. If the weather is generally cool; below 70 degrees, don’t refrigerate. Just let them sit in the container they came in on your counter, but keep them out of sunlight.

Serving suggestion:

  • Slice a few over a fresh spinach salad. Use a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Complementary ingredients: sliced boiled eggs, walnuts, sliced red onion, sliced mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts, dried cranberries or raisins, feta, Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles.Strawberries in bowl

2. If the weather is warm; over 70 degrees for most of the day, then I recommend slicing and adding a little sugar. The sugar helps preserve the berries. You don’t need a lot –only about a tablespoon or two for a pint of berries. It depends on how sweet you like them. Be sure to use a glass or ceramic bowl (metal may alter the berries’ flavor). Mix well, then cover the dish and store in the fridge.

Serving suggestions:

  • Mix into plain yogurt topped with granola.
  • Spoon over hot or cold cereal.
  • Top a scoop of frozen yogurt or vanilla ice cream.
  • Top fresh pancakes.

3. Freezing is also an option. Again, slice and sugar the berries. Use a freezer-friendly container, but not metal. Cover and freeze. When defrosted, the berries may be a little softer, but will have lots of flavor.

Serving suggestions:

  • Blend into smoothies, yogurt or into home-made ice cream mix.
  • Mix into hot cereal.
  • Top fresh pancakes.


Gluten free chocolate almond joy bars March 2, 2013

IMG_0578More than anything, I wanted a creative outlet today. One of my favorite things is to find a recipe for something I’ve never made before, get all the ingredients, then see how it turns out. Today’s new recipe is adapted  from one of my favorite gluten free blogs, Elana’s Pantry.

One thing I like about gluten free baked goods is that there’s usually a lot of protein in the mix. That means I’m full after one or two bites! An indulgence I can’t go overboard on because a few bites is all I want and need.

Note: this bar is not as sweet as a traditional cookie or candy bar. Feel free to add an extra teaspoon or two of sugar if you have a sweet tooth.


  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup coconut milk (Coconut has healthy fats; I use regular instead of low fat. If you have any left over, it keeps well in either the fridge or freezer.)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar (or 1/2 cup regular sugar)
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour  (Trader Joe’s is a great source)
  • ½ cup coconut flour (Buy as much or as little as you like from the bulk flour bins at your local food coop.)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (might be hard to find in a traditional grocery store. Try Whole Foods or a food coop.)
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, almond extract and sugar
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, salt and baking soda
  3. Mix dry ingredients into wet with a handheld mixer
  4. Stir in ½ cup of the chocolate chips
  5. Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish
  6. Pour batter into dish, then sprinkle shredded coconut and remaining chocolate chips on top
  7. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes
  8. Cool for 1 hour
  9. Serve

Brave Any Chili Contest White Chicken Chili February 18, 2013

I fell in love with the San Francisco Chronicle’s cookbooks while visiting San Francisco nearly a decade ago. This recipe is from their 1997 edition with the yellow cover. In contrast with most of the recipes I post, this requires a bit of dedWhite Chiliication. It’s not that it’s particularly tricky. It’s more that there are a lot of steps, and you need a good, solid day to make it.

Fortunately, it’s a great diversion on a snowy day, and the reward of a steaming bowl when the day is done makes it worth while. It’s also a great recipe to make in big batches to keep in the freezer. In fact, I was thrilled to present a container as a gift to a friend last week. I simply grabbed one of the containers I’d kept in the freezer and off I went!

And for those of you with workplace chili contests, this is absolutely a contender. Whether it brings home a blue ribbon or not, you’ll be proud it was in the running, and your co-workers will thank you, too.

The ingredients that make this so special, in my mind, are the tomatillos, roasted Anaheim chiles, beer and rice vinegar. The rest are pretty common among chili recipes.. but with these additions the recipe turns from simple comfort food to gourmet fare.

White Chili


1 pound dry Great Northern or navy beans

8 cups water

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced


1 teaspoon salt


12 ounces Mexican beer (not dark) –I used a gluten free New Planet beer

2 cups diced onions

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup diced red bell pepper

2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and diced*

4 Anaheim or New Mexico green chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded**

1 tablespoon dried oregano***

1 tablespoon crushed cumin seeds***

1 1/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts (or the parts you like)

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth

2 tablespoons ground New Mexico chile (or chili powder)

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed by soaking

1 cup minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (or regular sharp cheddar cheese)

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

To make the beans, wash and pick over to ensure there aren’t any pebbles mixed in. (This rarely happens to me anymore but it doesn’t hurt to check.) Place in a large pot. Add the water, onion, garlic cloves and a grateing of black pepper. Simmer for 2-3 hours, until the beans are tender.  Add the salt during the last 30 minutes of cooking. (Adding salt too early can toughen the beans.)

To make the chili, While the beans are cooking, place the beer in a 4-quart pot.  Add the onions, garlic, bell pepper, jalapenos, green chiles, oregano and cumin.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Cut the chicken into strips, then dice.  Add to the pot along with the chicken broth.  Sprinkle in the ground chile and simmer for 15 minutes. (Alternatively, you can add chicken thighs and drumsticks on the bone to the broth, cook, then simply remove the meat from the bones later.)

Place the tomatillos, minced cilantro, vinegar and salt in a food processor and process to a salsa consistency.  Stir into the chili.  Add the drained cooked beans and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning: add salt, if desired.

Either sprinkle the cheese over the top of each bowl, or mix into the pot of chile until melted and blended. Garnish with cilantro.

*To handle the jalapeno chiles, use a small ziplock baggie as a glove to keep the hot oils off your skin. Otherwise, you can burn your fingers, and if your finger ends up near your eye, you could burn your eye.

**To roast and peel the Anaheim chiles, place on a cookie sheet under the broiler for about ten minutes per side. You may want to put a layer of aluminum foil on the sheet first, to help with cleanup.  Once the chiles are blackened on each side (yes, really go for black), carefully remove from the oven and drop into a large ziplock bag. Seal the bag and let them sit for about five minutes. This steams the chiles and makes it easier to peel off the skin.

Place the chiles onto a cutting board. Chop off the stem end, then slice from end to end. Prod open the chile and slide the seeds out with the dull side of your knife. Then peel the skin off with your fingers. (Anaheim chiles aren’t hot like jalapenos.)

Once the seeds and skins have been removed, dice and add to the chile.

***Spice flavorings are amplified and enriched by toasting briefly before adding to a recipe. Simply place a dry skillet (no oil) onto a lightly warmed burner. Measure your spices and sprinkle over the skillet. Allow to warm briefly without burning, just a minute or so depending on the heat of the skillet. Add to your recipe immediately.