Friday, November 22, 2013

Pear Cranberry Crisp (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

I am trying out a couple of new recipes before Thanksgiving Day arrives so I know which ones I want to make for the day.  This one will certainly be on the menu!   You might be wondering as you look at the photo if that cranberry really won't cause an obstruction.  Well, it is so soft that it honestly could squeeze through a tube of toothpaste!  But that's not what you will be thinking about when you eat this dessert.  You will only be thinking how you can keep it to yourself.  The combination of pears and cranberries is the perfect combination of sweet and tang.  I have enjoyed it as a dessert many times this week, as you will see by the variety of photos. 

This is also a gluten-free and dairy-free dessert.   In August, my physicians determined that I may have another disease process at work, called polymyositis.  It is a disease of muscle inflammation, and a certain subset of patients respond well to a dairy-free and gluten-free diet.  I had always eaten large quantities of bread products, so couldn't fathom what this new dietary restriction might mean for me.   What was most fascinating as I ventured into this new territory of no gluten and absolutely no dairy products ( I previously ate only cultured dairy products such as kefir and yogurt)  was how it improved my digestion almost immediately. But I have no way of knowing if it was the elimination of dairy or the gluten that had improved my digestion since I eliminated both of them at the same time.  I guess that sometime during the upcoming holidays, I may not have the willpower to resist some gluten products, so maybe I will find out for sure.

This recipe is an adaptation of one I found on the blog of Cookie and Kate.  It also gave a gluten-free version of the recipe, but it still contained dairy products of butter and yogurt.   I made it dairy-free by using coconut oil instead of the butter and I used goat yogurt rather than the cow yogurt.  I also strained the goat yogurt for about 30 minutes so it was thick and creamy.  (The brand of goat yogurt I discovered that I like is Redwood Hill Farms.) I also modified the recipe by eliminating the walnuts and substituted Sucanat for the brown sugar. If you aren't familiar with Sucanat, it is a natural cane sweetener. The brand name is an acronym from Sugar Cane Natural and it has substantially less carbohydrates in it than brown sugar. I have purchased it for many years in the bulk section at the Duluth Whole Foods Co-op.  The almond meal used for the topping with the oats is a "staple" in our pantry, because Tom frequently uses it to make his own crackers. (More about those tasty treats another time.)   

But back to this delectable dessert!  When Tom tried it, he said "anyone would like this - it's great!"  The honey-sweetened pears form the basis for this easy, and easy to digest dessert that will grace our Thanksgiving table next week.  

2 Bartlett pears, cored, peeled and sliced into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
3 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/2  cup gluten free oats (Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 cup almond meal (Bob's Red Mill)                  
3 Tablespoons Sucanat
1/8 tsp fine-grain sea salt
2 Tablespoons coconut oil - melted
1 1/2 Tablespoon goat yogurt, strained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the pears, cranberries, honey, cornstarch, lemon juice, ginger and cinnamon and place in a small baking dish. Mix the oats, almond meal, sucanat, and salt. Set aside. Melt the coconut oil and cool it a bit. Add it to the rest of the topping mix and stir lightly. Add the drained yogurt and crumble it together, then put it on the top of the fruit. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until all of the fruit is very soft.   Eat and be thankful!

Servings per recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1/8 of the pan
Calories: 147
Total Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 41 mg
Total Carbs: 23 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 2 g

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cauliflower & Potato Soup with Kale Crumbles

On October 30,  I posted the recipe for Cauliflower Soup with Kale Crumbles, and I promised the next post would be for another version of it that added potatoes.  Well, here it is.  Potatoes are one of my favorite foods,  but they often have an undeserved bad nutritional reputation.   They are easy to digest, which make them a winner with me, but they are also extremely nutritional.  They contain complex carbohydrates along with proteins, vitamins, and minerals such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium and iron.  Pzazz for sure!  When I made the soup this time, I used Pacific low-sodium vegetable broth, which substantially reduced the amount of sodium in the soup and I thought the flavor was improved.  Pzazz again!

    1 Tablespoon coconut oil
    1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
    1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
    4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 
    About 1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning
      2 cups peeled, cubed potatoes (about 1/2" cubes)

Melt oil in a deep soup pot. Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent. Meanwhile, cut cauliflower florets into smaller pieces. When the onions are translucent, add the cauliflower florets, the chicken broth, the potatoes and the seasoning. Cover and simmer on low until the cauliflower pieces and potatoes are very tender.  Puree with an immersion stick or other device of your choice.  Garnish with kale crumbles, or you could add them prior to pureeing.   

To make the kale crumbles, simply chop a bunch of kale into bite sized pieces.  Use whatever variety of kale you prefer.  I like the Lacinato Kale best.(Lacinato kale is also known as Dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale, or black kale.) Then put them into a bowl and spray with olive oil cooking spray and season with just a dash of salt and pepper.  Stir to distribute the olive oil spray and then spread them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 8 - 10 minutes, until crispy.  Crumble into the soup.

Nutrition per serving:   (includes kale crumbles)                                       
Servings per recipe: 4
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 138
Total Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 249 mg 
Total Carbs: 28 g 
Dietary Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 6 g

Thursday, November 7, 2013

4th Annual Worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day

Grevys zebra

No, I promise you, I do not have a recipe for cooking a zebra today!!!  But the image of a zebra has become a favorite of mine because it is the designated logo for NET cancer.

What is NET cancer?  Neuroendocrine tumors (NETS) are tumors that arise in the neuroendocrine cells in the body.  Neuroendocrine cells are located in the nervous system and in the endocrine system.  NETS are found most commonly in the lung or gastrointestinal system, but they can also originate in other parts of the body, such as the pancreas and ovary, among other sites. NET cancers are usually slower growing compared to other types of cancer, but are deadly, nonetheless.  The type of cancer that I was diagnosed with in 1998 is a neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas. 

But I bet you are still wondering why the zebra is designated as the logo for NET cancer. In medical school, doctors are taught, "when hearing hoof beats  think horses, not zebras." But NET cancers are considered "rare" and therefore may be considered to be a "zebra".  Studies show that about 5 out of 100,000 people are diagnosed with a NET tumor of some type each year.

NETS are listed with the National Organization of Rare Disorders and because of their rarity and due to a lack of public awareness, the disease has had low priority for medical research. Please help me in the effort to bring more awareness to NET cancer on Sunday, November 10 which is designated as the 4th Annual Worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day. I have also listed other valuable resources about NET cancer.  

4th Annual Worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day

NET Cancer Day, November 10, 2013
The 4th Worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day will be held internationally on November 10, 2013.  Here's what YOU can do to help spread awareness of NET Cancer.  

1)Sign the Proclamation in support of the awareness campaign,

2)View NET Cancer Day videos on YouTube: 
I found these videos incredibly inspiring and uplifting!

3)Sign up for the NET Cancer Day e-newsletter

Here are some other useful resources to learn more about NET tumors.  You will see the term "carcinoid" in some of these resources.  Carcinoid is a part of a group of NET tumors, but the websites listed below address NETs and carcinoid.  

Carcinoid Cancer Foundation
This is the most comprehensive and informative site dedicated to supporting patients diagnosed with a NET.

Caring for Carcinoid Foundation
This foundation has awarded over 6 million dollars in research grants to leading scientists working to discover better diagnosis and treatment options for NETs.

Carcinoid Cancer AwarenssNetwork
This site emphasizes ways to increase awareness of NETS and carcinoid.

This link  highlights NET cancer awareness efforts worldwide, but it also contains great videos about NET cancer, some from physicians