Practical, healthful eating and living.

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!


Gluten-free chocolate chip scones February 2, 2013

choc chip scones

I am indebted to Elana Amsterdam, whose blog, Elana’s Pantry, has become my go-to source for easy, satisfying gluten-free recipes.

First of all, her recipes’ ingredient lists are usually short and simple. Whereas the typical gluten-free baked goods recipe from other sources requires multiple types of flour and expensive xanthan gum, Elana’s come out beautifully with usually one type of flour (often coconut or almond), mixed with a few eggs, shortening and natural sweeteners like honey or agave syrup.

It’s been the coldest week of the year in my wintry city. In need of a baked good for a potluck tomorrow, I pondered between two of Elana’s recipes. One was an almond-flour slightly sweet drop biscuit, the other was the recipe below for chocolate chip scones of coconut flour. Luckily, I had both types of flours on hand and had the luxury of deliberating. Since I hadn’t had a chance to try the chocolate chip scones yet, I succumbed to curiosity knowing that in case I didn’t like the way they turned out, I’d have a back up. Luckily, they were delicious and I am certain my potluck crew will love them! So easy that making a second batch was no trouble at all.

Note: The instructions reflect how I made these, which is slightly different than the instructions on Elana’s site.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Scones

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup vegan shortening
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup (about 3 ounces) chocolate chips
    1. Combine coconut flour, salt and baking soda
    1. Mix in shortening, honey and eggs
    2. Fold in chocolate chips
    3. Scoop batter onto a parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheet
    4. Bake at 350° for 10-14 minutes
    5. Cool and serve

Cool Breezes July 28, 2011

Hot, humid, shut the door, turn on the AC sweet July.  Here’s a bit of what I’m dipping into to stay cool!

Frozen Granitas

Pour juice, sweetened tea, or nearly any kind of beverage into a freezer-friendly container. I use Ziploc containers because I know they’ll keep me from spilling on the way in and out of the freezer.

After about an hour, take your granita out of the freezer and scrape the frozen sides down and stir into the middle.  Repeat after another 30 minutes to an hour a couple of times until there are flakes of ice throughout and you’re ready for cool, sweet refreshment.  Depending on the size of the container, allow 2-5 hours for freezing.

Alternatively, create a simply syrup of 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water by heating until the sugar is dissolved.  Add to taste to freshly squeezed lemon juice or other fruit juices. Freeze as above.

Home-made Popsicles   

Take the same as above and freeze in popsicle holders.  If you don’t have popsicle holders, freeze in paper cups covered with aluminum foil with a popsicle stick inserted through the middle.

Experiment with adding simply syrup to your juice, blended fruit, whole berries, kiwi slices, or your tea of choice to get the flavoring you like.  I don’t particularly like highly sweetened juices.  Lately, I’ve been going with 8 ounces of unsweetened coconut juice, mixed with the juice of one freshly-squeezed lime and chopped fresh mint, with but a tablespoon or so of simple syrup.  Restorative on a hot day after a bike ride.


Buy a big seedless watermelon. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Store what you can in a refrigerator-friendly container. Freeze the rest on a flat tray lined with saran wrap and covered with saran wrap. Once frozen, store in a Ziploc bag, then blend, frozen, to create an instant watermelon slushie.

Cucumber slices in water    

Peel and slice fresh cucumber. Drop slices into a pitcher. Fill with fresh, cold water. Refrigerate.

Get creative: sometimes I add slices of lime or sprigs of mint. Go with what calls you.


I don’t know why. Something about the saltiness, the coolness of the refrigerated jar, makes me crave pickles in summer.  I keep a jar in the fridge all throughout the summer.



Homemade Granola Bars April 11, 2011

Filed under: Easy food prep,Energy,Recipes,What I'm eating now — beansandyoga @ 2:12 pm
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I’ve always been intimidated by recipes for homemade granola bars.  I was suspicious that they’d turn out hard.  Sometimes they called for ingredients I don’t like.  But the recipe below seems just right.  It’s flexible.  Any type of dried fruit or nut will do.  It’s easy to halve the recipe, or double it, if you like.  I admit my bars did not cut into perfect squares, but I was not deterred.  They crumbled a bit, but were moist and chewy.  It’s delightful on its own, or sprinkled over fresh fruit and plain yogurt


    • 2 cups quick rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup almond flour or wheat germ
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 cup dried cranberries
    • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
    • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with wax or parchment paper. Stir together the oats, brown sugar, almond flour, dried cranberries, apricots, nuts, salt, and cinnamon in large bowl, being sure to break up any clumps of sugar or dried fruit. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix the honey, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown.

Remove from the oven and lift the wax or parchment paper from the pan. Let the granola slab cool for 5 minutes before removing the paper and cutting into bars.

Cool completely before eating or wrapping.

GLUTEN FREE: Be sure to buy oats from a plant that does not process wheat or other gluten containing products.  Do not use wheat germ.

Thank you to for sharing this! (The above version is a slight modification of theirs.)

Ukrainian Gazpacho July 18, 2010

If you didn’t grow up eating Eastern European food, you might be skeptical of beets.  I find my self longing for them around this time of year.  Recommended for potassium and iron, beets are versatile and fairly easy to handle.  They may be roasted, grated raw into salads, or become the base of a comforting soup.  Every autumn, I set aside a special weekend just for making borscht.  In July, however, I look to beets to cool me down and restore nutrients lost to hot, steamy weather.

Here is a beautiful, 5-minute chilled soup that might become the first thing you reach for after an hour of Bikram yoga.


1 can of chopped or sliced beets (drained), or 2-3 chopped cooked beets (about 2 cups).

1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 tablespoon minced scallions or chives

salt to taste

finely chopped cucumber (optional)

In a blender or food processor, combine the beets, apple juice and buttermilk.  Puree until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl or storage container and stir in the dill and scallions or chives.  At this point, if you have just returned, famished, from yoga, go ahead and have some!  Or, allow the soup to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Add salt to taste and top with finely chopped cucumber (optional).

Anything with beets, I find, gets even better the second day.  Feel free to double this recipe in order to keep this on hand for quick snacks throughout the week.

From: “Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites” by The Moosewood Collective


Cannellini all’Insalata July 4, 2010

After a bike ride in the sun, all I want is citrus, but I’m usually famished, too.  It’s easy to skip protein in summer when fresh fruit is abundant, and lemonade is flowing.  That’s why I love this white bean salad.  It’s so refreshing straight from the fridge, and it’s not anything like the Midwestern bean salads you may have had in the past. Be sure to have it with a slice of toast or a baguette to make a complete protein with the beans.  Not only will you feel refreshed, but you’ll have energy, too.


1 pound (about 2 cups) dried cannellini beans

4 garlic cloves (1 whole, 3 sliced)

1 sprig fresh sage

3 celery stalks ( 1 whole, 2 chopped)

1/2 red onion, julienned

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 large lemons

salt and pepper to taste

Leaves from 1 bunch parsley

Combine the beans, one whole garlic clove and the sage in a large bowl.  Cover with cold water and let soak overnight.

The next day, discard the garlic and sage, drain and rinse the beans.  Place the beans in a large pot, cover with fresh water and add the whole celery stalk.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are al dente, from 30-40 minutes.  (Don’t let them turn mushy.)  Drain the beans, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Discard the celery.  Let the beans cool to room temperature.

Combine the sliced garlic, the onion and olive oil in a medium-sized bowl.  Squeeze the juice from 1 1/2 of the lemons over the top and season with salt and pepper.  Whisk lightly until emulsified.  Add the beans, chopped celery, parsley and reserved cooking liquid.  Cover and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.  (Be sure to refrigerate if you plan to let it sit longer than an hour.) Season with more freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature, garnished with lemon wedges from the remaining lemon half.  Remember that beans absorb salt, causing the flavor to disappear after a day.  Be sure to taste and re-salt leftovers as needed to brighten the taste.  You may want to add a little more lemon juice after day, but I find that the flavors of this salad just get better with time.

Based on Cannellini all’Insalata from “The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.”


Marvelous Meusli June 13, 2010

Some days, a girl needs to bypass the stove, bypass the cutting board, the microwave, you name it.  Some days, a girl needs instant gratification.  A bowl, cold milk, and the crunchy/sweet satisfaction of cereal.  But the truth is, I abandoned brand cereal years ago.  It was too expensive, too sugary, and the ingredients were too hard to pronounce.

It took trial and error, but I’ve finally rested upon a combination that cuts out wheat and barley (known sources of gluten*) without giving up traditional meusli attributes.

The beauty of this is that the dried fruit and nuts may be switched out as you like.   I started with a Trader Joe’s combination of dried mango, blueberries and cranberries.    For the next batch, there was naught but dried cranberries on hand.  Both were delicious!


2 cups of thin-rolled oats (slightly lighter and more thinly cut than regular rolled oats.)

1 cup oat bran

3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 roasted slivered almonds

1 cup dried berries, raisins, or other dried fruit

Serve with milk, honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon, fresh berries or bananas, or sprinkle over yogurt.  Store in an airtight container.

*I realize that oats don’t always pass as gluten free.  Please double check with your gluten-free eaters to find out if they can tolerate oats.  Some say it depends on whether the oats were processed in a gluten-free facility.  (Oats are often processed in facilities that also process wheat, which can lead to being contaminated with gluten.)