Friday, May 28, 2010

Grow Herbs On Your Kitchen Windowsill






You can grow  an herb garden with herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme,etc. in little pots on your deck or windowsill. It's great when y ou need some fresh basil or parsley for a recipe. You won't have to head to the supermarket, just can just pick some fresh green herbs from your own herb garden.

Herbs are easy to grow in containers, indoors or outside, or they can be planted in the ground. You don't need any special skills, and you can be successful growing herbs like rosemary, parsley, dill,  thyme, basil, and mint.

To grow herbs in a container, purchase plant containers that have holes on the bottom, fill with potting soil, and then add a little herb plant. I like to begin with small plants that I buy at places like Whole Foods, local farm stands, or even some supermarkets. In upper picture is my container of  thriving parsley and thyme.

Another herb that I planted is Stevia that I got from one of the local farms in Hopewell, NJ. Yes, the very stevia that is a sugar substitute. I haven't really done much with it, but it is fun to grow. I have chewed a few leaves, and boy  they are sweet!



To save on buying containers, I planted sage, thyme, and a tomato plant in the same container.This  also saves space and makes watering faster. Herbs like to grow in small spaces and all three are thriving. See below

Tomato plant with thyme and sage in one container
Once you plant your herbs, you can enjoy the herbs all spring, summer, and fall. There is nothing like the taste of freshly clipped herbs added to a salad or roasted vegetables. There is no end to how you can use fresh herbs. In addition, fresh herbs provide vitamins and antioxidants that boost the immune system

One herb that I plant in the ground is mint because it is a perennial ( comes back every year). Every yeat in the beginning of March, I welcome my tiny mint buds that are popping their heads out in the still fridgid weather. With our Middle Eastern background we use a lot of mint, so we usually harvest the mint, dry it, and then use it in a lot of Mediterranean recipes.We use fresh mint all summer to make mint tea,( like in a Moroccan restaurant), mojitos', chutney, pesto, or add it to tabbouleh. We also love adding fresh mint to lemonade.

                   Mint comes up in the end of March, and if I keep cutting it, it will bloom into the fall .

Here are some recipes
 Lemonade with Fresh Mint is a refreshing beverage that everyone can enjoy.
Ingredients: 
10-12 fresh mint leaves
4-5 fresh lemons, halved and seeded
3 drops of orange blossom water ( middle eastern store) optional
1/2 cup organic honey
10 -12 cups of water
lots of ice
Preparation 
Fill large pitcher with water. Add agave nectar, juice of 4-5 fresh lemons, mint leaves, orange blossom and water. Mix well, let sit about 15 minutes add ice and serve. ( you don't eat the mint leaves, but leave them in the pitcher as long as there is still liquid and the flavor will continue to improve.)

*** Orange Blossom is an extract . You can get it in some specialty stores or Middle Eastern or Indian food markets.

How I use my fresh and prolific basil:
Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil and parsley makes a wonderful appetiser or side dish to a meal.


Ingredients:
3 large tomatoes, sliced thin and evenly
1 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced evenly
12 large basil leaves,  washed and patted dry
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar  
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
On a flat serving dish arrange tomatoes,  mozzarella cheese, and basil alternatively in a circle to fill the plate
Drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve a room temperature.





Fresh Basil Pesto
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1 and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves ( packed)
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup  grated Parmesan cheese grated


Using a food processor, quickly process garlic until it is minced. Add fresh basil and pine nuts and pulse well.  With processor running slowly add olive oil until smooth. Put pesto into a bowl and mix in the grated Parmesan cheese. If mixture is dry, add a little more olive oil.  Stays fresh for about 3 days or can be frozen for 4-6 weeks.

Mix pesto with your favorite gluten free pasta.


Herbs can be used fresh, they can be frozen, or they can be dried.
So, if you grow more than you can use, put some away to use all fall ( and even winter). I dry some of my mint and store it in containers to use as flavoring in omelettes, Greek salad, and vegetable dishes.

How to freeze herbs.
Wash herbs well, shake off excess water and dry between two paper towels. Place in a ziplock baggy and freeze for 6-8 weeks. Take out as needed for recipes.

How to dry herbs

There are many ways to dry fresh herbs.  One way is to first wash the herbs well. Dry between two paper towels. Then tie a rubber band around the stems and hang upside down for about 5-7 days until they are completely dry and brittle. Remove leaves from stems and crumble the leaves into a container, or remove leaves from stems and put into a little food processor and process until tiny. Use in omlettes, salad dressing, and sauces.


Once you plant your herbs, they will grow quickly.
Most herbs like full sun, and don't forget to water daily;
Also, remember to cut the herbs frequently, otherwise they will flower and go to seed.
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This blog post has been shared on Pennywise Platter and Wildcrafting Wednesday

Monday, May 24, 2010

All About Quinoa














The 5 W's regarding the little known gluten free grain-like seed called Quinoa.

Who Eats Quinoa and What is Quinoa?
QUINOA, pronounced "keen-wah" was originally grown in South America in the Andes Mountain area. It was a staple of the Incas and considered the mother grain. It was brought to the United States in the 1980's and cultivated in California. .It can be made as nutritious substitute for rice and eaten as a side dish. It has a lot more protein and is tasty and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

Where is Quinoa Sold?
Quinoa can be purchased in any health food store, Whole Foods, Trader Joe, and many supermarkets carry quinoa in the natural food section. It comes in a bag ,like rice, and looks like little sesame seeds. Quinoa may come in a red variety, a white variety and a black variety.

When Do You Eat Quinoa?
Since quinoa looks like and has the texture of a grain, it can be served for breakfast as a hot cereal or for lunch or dinner as a side dish. ( It's actually a seed)
 
Why is Quinoa So Nutritious ?
Quinoa has a mild taste and is good plain, as a side dish, a pilaf  or used for stuffing vegetables. A 1/4 cup of dry quinoa provides 5 g of good quality protein and 4 g of dietary fiber. It is good for vegetarians because it is a completely balanced-amino-acid  AND it is low on the glycemic index for a grain ( 35) .This powerhouse grain is rich in nutrients, is a good source of fiber, and has 50% more protein than most other grains. It provides calcium (26 mg per 1 cup serving), iron (4 mg per serving), and B vitamins. Quinoa also contains high levels of lysine, an amino acid the body uses to make protein. It is easy to digest and adds variety and nutrients to a gluten free diet.

How Do You Cook Quinoa?

Quinoa can be prepared like rice. 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa according to the package directions. It is very versatile and can be made into a pilaf, a tabooleh, a stuffing or eaten plain like rice.

Recipe for Quinoa Tabooleh:

I  adapted this recipe from a recipe I saw on the Whole Foods Website . It can be served at room temperature and is perfect as a summer salad. Serves 4

1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions

1 cup finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped ( optional)

5 green onions, finely chopped

2 cups small grape tomatoes, quartered

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, and diced

Juice of 1 to 2 fresh lemons, more to taste

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of crushed red pepper ( optional)
Sea salt and pepper and to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a large serving bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Nutritional Info

Per serving (About 8.5oz/238g-wt.): 340 calories (180 from fat), 20g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 7g protein, 38g total carbohydrate (5g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 0mg cholesterol, 100mg sodium

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Going to Hershey Park? Great Gluten Free Restaurant in Hershey, Pa.


If you a planning to visit Hershey Park this summer,  look for a restaurant in the town of Hershey, Pa called Piazza Sorrento. They offer a full line of gluten free pizza, gluten free appetizers, gluten free pastas and some gluten free dessert. They advertise that they are very careful in their gluten free preparation. The following is from their website:

"Piazza Sorrento is endorsed by the Gluten Intolerance Group of Harrisburg (GIG). We have created a gluten-free menu designed to accommodate individuals with special dietary needs. All appetizers and entrees are prepared with extreme awareness to detail, such as preparing your gluten free pasta in separate pots of water. Your dietary needs are important to us. Please make us aware of any special health issues or allergies so you can relax & enjoy a great Italian meal. Please allow extra time for preparation"

This is a testimonial from their website:
"Excellent meal!! My husband was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and when we learned that you had a gluten free menu and paid special attention to customers with special dietary needs, we couldn't wait to come over! As I have also adopted the gluten free diet, it was of interest to both of us. My husband had the pizza with a wheat free crust and I had the gluten free cheese stuffed shells. Even the dinner rolls were gluten free along with the bread sticks! Excellent food! We were especially happy when the chef came out and spoke with us personally. Unfortunately, we were too full to sample the gluten free desert. Next time!! As we will definitely be back. Thank you all so much for an excellent and delicious dining experience."

Dayna Lancaster

In addition to great food, they have an accordion player on Saturday nights!

For info:


http://www.piazzasorrento.com/

(717) 835-1919

16 Briarcrest Sq

Hershey, PA

Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with Piazzo Sorrento. The information in the blog is a restaurant  review and for informational purposes only. We take no responsibility for their gluten free menu. Please eat there at your own risk.

No Guilt Low Carb Potato Salad






















     


You know how they say, " Fifty is the new Forty" , well for those looking for fabulous taste with fewer calories, cauliflower can be the new potato.

The first South Beach Diet Book had a recipe for making mashed potatoes by substituting cauliflower instead of potatoes. I think everyone was surprised and delighted with how good the recipe tasted.The same substitution can be made for making potato salad.

You can probably use your favorite recipe and just substitute steamed cauliflower florets for potato or try my recipe listed below. In addition, cauliflower is really healthy. It is low calorie, low fat and packed with antioxidants that help boost the immune system.  It is a great vegetable to include in your diet.

The picture didn't come out to good and then we gobbled it up- sorry I didn't take better photos

This is a perfect Thanksgiving side dish if you are trying to keep the carbs low. It tastes so much like potato salad that no one will complain.

Low on carbs , not on flavor

Judee Algazi
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Serves: 


Mock Potato Salad using Cauliflower

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
2 scallions diced
3 ribs of celery diced very small
1/2 cup parsley chopped fine
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. turmeric ( optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mayonnaise ( or low fat mayonnaise or vegan mayonaise)

Directions

Steam cauliflower florets until almost soft.
Toss steamed cauliflower  in celery seed and set aside to cool.
Mix together the scallions, celery, parsley salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Wait for cauliflower to cool and then add to the chopped vegetables and mix.
Stir in mayonnaise and mix well.
Chill in refrigerator for about 2-3 hours so flavors can mingle.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Are Oats Gluten Free? Yes and No

We know that food made from wheat, barley, or rye and their products like couscous, durum, kamut, farina, seitan, atta, triticale, spelt, bulgur, semolina and einkorn  all contain gluten and should be eliminated on a gluten free diet, but
what's the story with oats? 

For years those with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease were instructed to eliminate oats from their diet. In itself, the oat grain does not contain  gluten. However, oats are frequently grown in fields in close proximity to wheat and barley which encourages cross pollination. In addition, oats are usually processed, milled, and transported in the same equipment as wheat and barley, thus oats can become contaminated with gluten during processing.

To be able to offer gluten free oats, some farmers have started to grow oats exclusively. These oats are processed separately from other grains and remain gluten free. Based on numerous studies, the conclusion is that many with Celiac disease or those with gluten intolerance can tolerate oats when they are not contaminated. However, there are some who still react to other irritants in oats. So, it is important to check with your doctor before trying gluten free oats.

Gluten free oats can be found in many health food stores, Trader Joe,  or can be ordered online.
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain Rolled Oats, 32 Oz

Use certified gluten free oats for these recipes

Overnight Apple Pie Oatmeal Recipe

Weight Watchers  style Overnight Oatmeal Recipes

Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Disclaimer: The information on this blog is for educational purposes only. We are not doctors; always check with a qualified physician before making any changes in your diet. Although certified gluten free oats are considered gluten free, some individuals may still react. Check with your doctor before eating oats.

I am an affiliate for Amazon and receive a small compensation when you click and order through my blog. Thank you for helping defray the cost of running my blog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

3 Ways to Keep Gluten From Sneaking Into Your Food

Food in its natural state is easy to identify as containing or not containing gluten. Processed and cooked foods are not as easy to identify because sauces, fillers, vinegars, ketchup, soy sauces, thickeners, additives, may be made from wheat or another grain that contains gluten and may be hidden in foods that you don't suspect!  The following sites may be helpful.

3 Ways to Keep Gluten From Sneaking Into Your Diet

1. Read ingredients and become familiar with sauces, fillers, vinegars, ketchup, thickeners, etc. that contain gluten. The following website  can help:    http://www.glutenfreeinfo.com/Diet/S-FoodList.htm

2. Also, many stores ( like Trader Joe and Whole Foods) will provide a list of their gluten free products and many restaurants now offer a variety of gluten free choices. The following link is a website that lists information about the gluten free menu items in popular restaurant chains: I found this link very helpful .http://www.venturaceliac.org/restaurants.htm

3. Medicine and vitamins can also contain gluten. Check the label , or ask the pharmacist to let you know if a prescription medication contains gluten.



Next Blog: What is cross contamination and why does it matter?



Disclaimer: The information on this blog is for educational purposes only. We do not have any affiliation with the websites listed on this page and do not endorse or take responsibility for any of the information on their webs. Always consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Easy Ginger Peanut Sauce for Noodles




My ginger peanut sauce is easy, delicious, and made using fresh grated ginger.
There is nothing like the addition of fresh ginger to make a recipe really zing.
Pour this simple sauce over gluten free pasta, zoodles, or use it as a dip for tofu.

If you've never purchased a piece of fresh ginger, it  may look strange and intimidating .. Many people shy away from using fresh ginger because they don't know how to peel it. Actually, it's very easy to peel.




How to Peel Fresh Ginger in Minutes

Just take the back of a spoon ( not a knife, not a fork)  and lightly scrape the ginger.. The skin will come off easily and the ginger will ready to use. Once peeled , it grates easily for any recipe.

Don't worry if you have a piece of ginger left over. You can freeze fresh ginger for future use.

Here To Freeze Fresh Ginger For Future Use
If you don't use all of your ginger right away, place the peeled piece of leftover ginger in a ziplock baggie and freeze it. It will stay fresh for about 6 weeks (or more)  and will be available for your next recipe. Also, once the ginger is frozen it is easier to cut.

Fresh ginger is a powerful antioxidant and very good for digestion.
Try this nutritious gluten free peanut sauce over GF noodles. YUM!

I also use this sauce for my spring roll recipe-


Judee Algazi
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves:

Gluten Free Ginger Peanut Sauce :

1/2 cup of  natural peanut butter, softened.

3 tbsp water

2 tbsp organic gluten free Tamari or GF soy sauce ( or Bragg's amino acids available in health food stores)

Juice from 2 fresh limes

Small piece of fresh ginger, grated ( about 1-2 tsp)

1 clove garlic, pressed

red pepper flakes optional

salt to taste

Combine all ingredients, place in blender and process until smooth. Warm the sauce in a saucepan and use to pour over cooked pasta or zoodles, or vegetables. Feel good serving this excellent sauce because the ginger, limes, and garlic are all powerful antioxidants!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Pasta with No Calories and no Carbs! No Kidding!

Do you love pasta but don't want the carbs or calories?
This gluten free pasta is too good to be true!
Get ready for this one.. It has no calories, no carbohydrates is made from the root of a vegetable.
I found it online and it has to be ordered, but it is worth it.


Whether you are following Atkins, Suzanne Somer's diet, or Weight Watchers this is the perfect diet food, and it is gluten free!!
It is a type of Sharataki noodle that has been consumed in Asia for years and years. This product is now made in the USA and it is filling!!

Here is the nutritional information on the packaging:

Ingredients: Water, glucomannan (soluble fiber), calcium additive.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3 oz
Servings Per Container: 2.3
Amount Per Serving
Calories 0 Calories from Fat 0
Total Fat 0g 0%
Protein 0g 0%
Protein <1g 0%
Sugar 0g 0%
Carbohydrate <1g - only fiber
Zero Net Carbs, Zero Calories, Zero Glycemic Index


No soy, gluten, or wheat!

But is the Noodle Healthy??
______________________________________________________________________________
The company address this question:

" Why Is This Noodle So Healthy?" According to the Noodle company,

"The answer to this questions lies in understanding the role of fiber in our diets. Our noodle is made mainly of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber acts to slow digestion. By doing this, it allows for the slower absorption of glucose and is the reason behind its beneficial effects in diabetes.

The soluble fiber found in the Miracle Noodle slows digestion and prolongs the sensation of fullness and is an essential part of any weight loss program. You also absorb more nutrients in the foods you eat with The Miracle Noodle due to the slowing of digestion. "
____________________________________________________________________________-

I have been really enjoying these noodles once or twice a week.
Want my favorite recipe for this noodle? If you write to Judee at
vegyid2@yahoo.com , I will send you my favortie sharataki noodle recipe!!

When using the noodles: My suggestion:

Make sure you rinse the noodle very well. The water in the packaging can have a slight odor that washes off. Then boil them for just one minute . Add them to a stir fry, add sauce etc.

Disclaimer: I have no association with the company and do not get any kickback for the product. I am simply reviewing and sharing my experience with gluten free products.
               The Noodle is called Miracle Noodle. It can be ordered on http://www.miraclenoodle.com/

Chain Restaurants with Gluten Free Menus

Restaurants are beginning to add gluten free choices to their menus.I've noticed at least three local Italian restaurants in my neighborhood have added gluten free pasta or pizza as a choice. In addition, some restaurant chains have gluten free menus! Although this is very exciting, you need to be vigilant that your waiter understands what you are ordering or mistakes can be made. Keeping that caution in mind, enjoy the following list.


 Uno Chicago Grill has a gluten free menu that includes pizza!! You can use this link to check out their entire gluten free menu http://www.unos.com/kiosk/nutritionUnos.html

Outback Steakhouse also has gluten free selections

PF Chang Chinese restaurant has a very extensive gluten free menu which you can view online at http://www.pfchangs.com/menu/

Bertuccis
has a full gluten free menu as well which can be viewed online at http://gfrestaurants.com/bertuccis-gluten-free-menu

Jules Pizza has a line of gluten free pizza

Legal Sea Foods
This chain is located in many states. They are extremely careful about their gluten free menu and use gluten free breadcrumbs or chickpea flour in their gluten free dishes. Each state seems to have their own menu, so you have to look on line to find out. The following link will take you to a directory of their restaurants.
http://www.legalseafoods.com/Restaurants

Olive Garden:
Ask to see their gluten free menu. It is limited, but they do offer gluten free pasta.
For a list of additional restaurants with gluten free menus go to :
Gluten Free Awareness program at http://www.glutenfreerestaurants.org

Disclaimer: We do not benefit from and are not endorsing any of the restaurants listed in this blog. The information is strictly for educational purposes. Always consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet and eat at these restaurants at your own risk.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Great Gluten Free Restaurant in NYC

Do you love to eat out, but often find your gluten free choices very limited ? Or does the waiter say they made the meal gluten free but after the meal, your stomach tells you differently?

I like to find restaurants that really understand gluten free cooking and offer a wide variety of choices. Last weekend I found a winner .

I went to see a Broadway show in NYC Friday night with family and good friends and made reservations at a delightful Italian restaurant that boasted a gluten free menu. The ambiance of the restaurant was typically New York City, small and crowded, but the service and food were excellent. We asked about their gluten free choices, and they brought us out a special full menu that included, pizza, pasta, bread, appetizers, soup, salads, meat, fish and chicken entrees, beer, wines, desserts etc. I was pleasantly surprised from the get go. Two of us were gluten free, and we really enjoyed our complimentary gluten free bread basket and dip, the chick pea crust pizza appetizer ( we ordered artichoke topping- very tasty) tomato cream soup, and our entrees. My friend chose a seasoned grilled salmon with asparagus and eggplant puree side; I chose a gluten free pasta dish that was excellent. Our other guests, all of whom were not gluten free, ordered off the regular menu. They enjoyed pastas, chicken entrees, and fish entrees that they said were outstanding. We ended the dinner with one of their specialties, a freshly brewed (at the table) pot of Ethiopian coffee (came in decaf as well). We were too full for dessert, but both the gluten free and regular desserts looked good.

If you are in NYC and looking for a good gluten free restaurant, I recommend Nizza Restaruant on 9th Street between 44th and 45th. In addition to the food, the service was excellent. The service was fast but they didn't rush us. The seven of us were able to enjoy appetizers to coffee in about an hour. In addition, they had both inside and outside seating and the prices were moderate.

Disclaimer: I do not recieve any benefits from Nizza . The information in this blog is for educational purposes only and is based on my personal experience and is meant to be a review.


If you know of any good gluten free restaurants, please share.

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