Monday, April 29, 2013

Vegetable Chow Mein

chou mein

Simple and soothing, vegetable chow mein  is a tasty  low calorie and healthy side dish that goes great with almost any meal. or tossed with a protein and rice, it can be eaten as a meal.

The first time I tasted vegetable chow mien,  I was ten years old..
That was many years ago long before most people were even familiar with Chinese restaurants (1960).

In those days, our town had only one Chinese restaurant.
It was tucked away on a dark side street off the beaten path off an area known as " downtown"  

I thought the Chinese restaurant was fascinating- the restaurant housed live lobsters bound in tanks ( never could deal with that) , colorful and unusual red foreign decorations, not so cheerful men who spoke a language I couldn't understand, curious wooden chop sticks, prolific pots of hot tea, cookies that told your fortune, and really good food. It was a fun place to go.

My mother always ordered sum gum chow mien; I ordered vegetable chow mien. 

My order was one of the the simpler choices on the menu, but I found it soothing and filling. It must have been the combination of slowly sauteed and well cooked sweet sliced onions, celery, cabbage, and bean sprouts in the gooey Chinese white sauce that was so delicious.

 I liked Vegetable Chou Mien then,  and I still  like it now!

 I add sliced mushrooms to my recipe and leave out the sauce. It suits my diet somewhat better. 
On Weight Watchers, the Points Plus value is just about " 1 " per serving due to the oil.

I can make a batch rather quickly, and it adds some variety of nutrients to my vegetable side dishes. If I prefer to eat the chow mein as a meal, I eat it with rice and a protein. YUM!!

All vegetables add important nutrients to the diet..As you may have noticed,  this dish is mostly white vegetables. I was surprised to find out that despite their lack of color, white veggies don't fall short on providing protective nutrients. White veggies, like mushrooms, sprouts, cabbage and onions provide powerful immune boosting activity to the body and are very important for a strong immune system.

This is my homemade version of vegetable chow mein

Chow Mein
2 large yellow onions, sliced in 1/2 moons
2 cups of celery chopped
1 package of fresh sprouted bean sprouts
1/2 carrot grated
1 package of white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 small head of Chinese cabbage shredded
Olive oil spray and 2 teaspoons olive oil
seasoning: salt and; pepper to taste. Tamari sauce if desired.

Spray a large skillet with olive oil spray. Add 2 tsp of olive oil and saute onions, celery, carrots, shredded cabbage and cook on high slowly for about 4 minutes. Reduce to medium /low heat and saute slowly until vegetables are tender but not overcooked. 


sauteing in the skillet with b
For the greatest variety of nutritional benefits,  vary the colors of your veggies. Each color group provides unique properties. My rainbow salad provides nutrients from almost every color group.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spanish Chickpea Soup ( vegan)



                             
 This Spanish Chickpea Soup is very simple to make and provides a delicious high protein meal that that sticks to the ribs, has lots of spices for antioxidants, and an interesting lemony flavor.

Antioxidants are especially important to boost the immune system during the change of seasons.
What we eat does make a difference in the way we feel.. It's no surprise that so many ethnic favorites are so good for you.

I don't know why this is called Spanish soup, when the spices could just as well depict an Indian flavor.
Both cultures take advantage of the rich antioxidants that both cumin and turmeric provide.

You may notice the beautiful color of the soup. That is reflective of the yellow, rich bronze , and red of all the ingredients. You may have read that the more colors we eat , the healthier we will be. Spices add color and nutrients to all of our food. Ethnic food boasts a wide variety of spices. Enjoy this health giving soup.

Spanish Chickpea Soup

Ingredients 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin  
  • 1 red pepper , diced
  • 1 large potato diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 cups water
  • salt and pepper


Directions:
Sautee the onion, celery, and garlic in the olive oil for 5 minutes. . Add the spices and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes , red pepper, potato, zucchini,  lemon juice & the cooked chickpeas and bring to the boil for a few minutes. Add broth and water and then cook covered on medium until vegetables are soft. Eat as is or use an immersion blender to puree. 

Spices are loaded with antioxidants and very healthy


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sauteed vegetables with turmeric and cumin


stove top cooked chick peas




Fresh vegetables
my herbs are growing...

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Monday

Tuesday

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Peel Garlic Easily + 7 other how to's!



I love finding good ideas that help make my life easier in the kitchen. 
These " how to" idea posts are some of my most popular and looked at posts from last year.
Check out this great round up of ideas for some really helpful hints that can make your life easier...


Peel an entire bulb of garlic in 30 seconds  (  not the crush and peel method!- this is great) 

2011_09_28-GarlicTip.jpg

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies  ( this simple trick works) 



How to Make Matzo Balls GF ( these are the best ever gluten free matzo balls  and easy to make)



How to cook and eat an artichoke  ( now you'll  know what to do!!simple and easy)



How to" Sprout"  ( this easy method will work!!- start eating health giving sprouts)



How to reduce house toxins  ( find out which house plants absorb toxins )



How to cook spaghetti squash the easy way ( you won't cut it before cooking)



Fast and Easy way to remove pits from cherries  ( how simple is this??)




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Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Favorite Kitchen Gadget ( this month)

Last month I was visiting a friend who had an electric teapot. I used it a few times and really grew to like it. I was amazed at how quickly it boiled the water.. In addition, it was also very quiet and extremely convenient. So, when I got home, I went out and treated myself to one. Now it's slowly becoming one of my favorite gadgets..

                                               
You might say,  " What is the big deal about boiling water"? Well,  personally, I don't like to use the microwave ( why expose yourself to radiation for a cup of tea and it's never really hot anyway?) , and I don't like to keep washing, drying, and putting away a pot if I don't have to. This gadget is totally convenient and when you lift the kettle off the base , it's cordless.

How many times am I in a rush in the morning and want some hot water fast? With this gadget, I can have a cup in 2 minutes.. And the greatest part is that the teapot shuts itself off, so I never have to worry if  I left a burner on the stove on.

I can't tell you how many times I'm racing out the door, get into the car and wonder if I shut off the burner on the stove..( and go back to check)  No more!!

 I've been using my new kettle at least twice a day for herbal tea. I've also used it when I have the ladies over for Mah Jong. too ( yes, I play .. do you?) .

I'm finding out that it's one of those gadgets that I never knew I wanted or needed until I was introduced to it.

I also decided that it makes a great gift when I just don't know what to get someone.

12 Reasons I love my new electric teapot so much.
  • It heat's up water really fast; faster than the stove or microwave
  • It's very light to lift
  • The water is always super hot
  • It's totally quiet
  • The teapot itself is cordless, so it removes from the base and I can serve without a cord
  • It is stainless steel and has no plastic interior
  • It doesn't heat up the room 
  • It automatically shuts off when ready ( so if you go upstairs and forget.. it's ok it won't boil out) 
  • It's attractive , so I leave it out on my counter
  • Keeps my stove top clear
  • I can boil 7 cups of water quickly and then transfer to a pot to make pasta, rice or soup more quickly.
  • I don't have to clean it- I just wipe off the outside.
Do you use an electric kettle? Do you love it? What's your opinion? Please leave a comment

The electric kettle that I got was the .Chef's Choice 681 Cordless Electric Kettle ..

Here is a great simple herbal tea recipe that you can make from cardamom and anise seeds- it's one of my favorite teas.. now I can make it even faster


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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Are you careful enough on your Gluten Free Diet?

I started  my blog in April of 2010-  3 years ago. I am running a repeat of one of my first ever posts. Because I was totally unknown at that time, only nineteen people viewed it.




Are you not careful enough on your gluten free diet? Do you sometimes just feel like cheating?  If you have a gluten intolerance or have been diagnosed with Celiac disease you really need to take it seriously.

Interestingly enough, you may or may not experience noticeable symptoms when you cheat, but in the long run the consequences of eating gluten can still do serious damage be. Here's why.

Reason #1: Gluten can inflame or damage the intestine
For those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance gluten damages the small intestine. There is no cure for celiac and no one outgrows it or develops a tolerance for gluten. It is genetic and runs in families. When you cheat and eat gluten, you inflame your intestines which can cause further damage.


                                       


Reason #2: Malnutrition
For those with celiac or gluten intolerance, damage to the small intestine is aggravated by eating any food with gluten. The impaired intestine is not able to digest or assimilate food properly. Gluten interferes with your intestine's ability to digest and assimilate vitamin and minerals. This can lead to many health problems including problems with nails, skin, eyesight, learning, memory, anemia, thyroid problems, etc.

                                          

______________________________________________________________________________
If you know that you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the best way to stay  healthy is to stick to your gluten free diet.

For those sensitive to gluten, gluten damages the villi of the small intestine. The villi are like small little fingers that line the small intestine. They absorb nutrients from the food we eat. When the villi are flattened or destroyed by gluten, nutrients are not absorbed. So, no matter how good your diet or no matter what medication you are taking, if your villi are not working well, you may not receive the benefit.

In addition, you may experience symptoms like loose stools, bloating, gas, and stomach discomfort. Anemia, osteoporosis, diabetes, thyroid disease and infertility are not uncommon in those with damaged villi and gluten intolerance.

Although the effects can be serious, the villi can repair themselves when gluten is not eaten.  Gluten is found in wheat, spelt, farina, semolina, triticale and kamut, barley, and rye. Oats do not contain gluten, but can cause problems because of cross contamination. So only oats that are marked gluten free should be trusted.

If you are not sure if you have celiac disease or not sure if you are sensitive to gluten, talk to your doctor.
If you would like more information go to my website and read GF Explained for explanations, resources, etc.

Disclaimer:
We are not medical doctors and are not trying to diagnose or treat disease. The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before making any changes in your diet.




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Monday, April 15, 2013

Mexican Bean and Corn Bake SRC

Casserole of Beans and corn bake

Delicious, nutritious, yet fast and easy, Mexican Bean Casserole Bake can be prepared in minutes and  ready to eat in just half hour. This simple recipe tastes surprisingly amazing.  Although we absolutely loved it alone , you can eat it with corn chips, sour cream , Greek yogurt, or some homemade guacamole. We actually ate it with a tomato and yellow pepper salad and some sliced avocado.

Secret Recipe Club'   I'm participating in S ecret Recipe Club, and I was assigned  to choose a recipe from an interesting blog called Rebekahs Family Food and Fun .

Picture from the markets on our last trip to Mexico 
Thank you Rebekah. Who would have thought that something so easy could taste so good.
I did make some minor changes, based on our preferences. I listed the changes in the recipe.

Ingredients
4 cups cooked pinto beans or 2 cans (16 oz. each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups cooked black beans or 2 cans (16 oz. each) black beans, rinsed and drained
8 oz. fresh or frozen corn  ) 
1/2 frozen artichokes
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained slightly
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce ( I used  a can of chopped tomatoes)
1 Tbs. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder ( used fresh pressed garlic)
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried oregano ( left this out)
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese ( I used one cup)

Optional - corn chips, lettuce, sour cream, jalapenos, black olives, and tomatoes/salsa

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the cheese and mix well. Pour evenly into a 13 x 9" pan.  Sprinkle with cheese. ( I mixed the cheese with the beans and then added a little more for the topping)
Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. ( I cooked mine for 35 minutes)

Serve with chips, lettuce, sour cream, jalapenos, black olives, and tomatoes/salsa if desired. 




A Mexican Restaurant in Cancun with great food!

Every month Little Thumb Up picks a theme. This month it is Corn. I am linking this Mexican Bean and Corn Bake to Little thumbsThis post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me, Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Esther from Copycake Kitchenat this post
You can link up too. Next month the theme is mushrooms  Joyce from Kitchen Flavours will be the next hostess of MAY 2013 and her theme isMUSHROOM! All the upcoming ingredient themes and hosts for the forthcoming months are listed at "Little Thumbs Up" side bar of my blog and hope that you can join in the fun of this event. Thumbs up!

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May be shared on a few of the following blog carnivals
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vacationing When You Can't Eat Like the Masses



Today I have a guest blogger. A few months ago, I was contacted by Erica Kritt from The Cruise Web  to ask if she could write a guest post regarding cruising for those who are gluten free. I have been on many cruises and realize that there are things that are helpful to know in advance.  This guest post is Erica's advice if you plan to take a cruise and have eating restrictions.
My last cruise

Vacationing when you can’t eat like the masses
By Erica Kritt, The Cruise Web Team

The Ship's Kitchen

Traveling is a wonderful thing, but for those of us who don’t eat like the masses, it can be a bit stressful. Sometimes it’s hard to find something satisfying on the road and it’s a hassle to ask for substitutions or exclusions at each restaurant you visit. However, when you do have that great meal in that perfect venue, it makes your travels so much sweeter.

It seems that many travelers with food allergies or intolerances have turned to cruising because travelers don’t have to repeat their requests every time they sit down to dinner.  The wait staff on a cruise ship is trained to remember any special requirements or preferences, so once they know your dining needs, you can fully expect them to be accommodated for your whole vacation.

Baked Alaska
Vegetarian meals will always be available on a cruise with no advanced notice or preparation needed. However, those with gluten issues are wise to let their cruise consultant know of their food allergy, at the time of booking. This helps the cruise lines make sure to have enough gluten free product to give the cruiser a wide variety of options – including gluten free breads, pancakes, pizza and pasta.

Salad for the masses
 Holland America, a cruise line known for its fantastic service, requests that passengers request gluten free foods, at least 30 days prior to embarkation. Although Holland America does offer gluten and lactose free meals at their buffet, this is the exception and one shouldn't assume it will be available. Many cruise lines cannot guarantee any cross-contamination at the buffet, therefore recommend having all meals in the dining room or at a specialty restaurant on board  However, ships’ buffets are usually stocked with fresh fruit and a salad bar for those looking for pure ingredients with little risk of allergens.

While there is a lot of preparation before hand, it’s important for travelers with food allergies or intolerances to make them known to the waiter and the headwaiter in the main dining room. The dining room staff will help those with restricted diets, by guiding them through the ships menus for the next day, when you sit down for each night’s dinner. This helps make sure that a meal will meet the travelers needs and won’t require the passenger to wait for the chefs to make their dinner, while their friends and family get their meals.

Gluten Free Foods Available at Sea

Remember these are not guaranteed on all ships; you need to work with your cruise line ahead of time to make them aware of your needs.
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cake
  • Pancakes
  • Muffins
  • Waffles
  • Pizza


Picking A Cruise 
It’s hard to say which cruise line offers the best food or gluten free experience. It depends on the cruiser. At The Cruise Web, we recommend booking with a cruise consultant who can listen to your needs and work with the cruise lines to make sure all of your requests are accommodated.

Have you had experience gluten free cruising?

Erica Kritt works at The Cruise Web. The Cruise Web is a travel agency that specializes in cruising. The expert cruise consultants focus on providing travelers with the best value for their time and money in finding and booking a cruise vacation!

Disclaimer: I and Gluten Free A-Z Blog do not have any affiliation with Erica Kritt or The Cruise Web. I do not benefit in any way from this post. In addition, I do not know anything about or endorse The Cruise Web. This post is strictly for educational purposes only. If you decide to use The Cruise Web, please do so at your own discretion.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Inspiration

Sometimes you see a quote that is inspiring and worth repeating. 
This is my quote of the Day!!! Makes so much sense!!
I'd love to hear the quotes that inspire you. I invite you to leave one of yours in the comments.
These quotes can brighten our day!

       "Fill What's Empty; Empty What's Full"


Have an empty vase?  Fill it with some beautiful flowers


   

Are you filling full? Start a detox to help empty your body of all the heavy winter foods!



Here comes the sun
6:00 A.M Sunrise over the beach! Have a bright day!
                                   
If you have a good quote that is worth repeating, please let it in the comments - Have a wonderful day!





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Friday, April 5, 2013

Reduce The Risk of Diabetes with Avocado

                         

Eating avocado may help prevent dangerous blood sugar spikes which is an essential component in the prevention and controlling of  type 2 diabetes and insulin sensitivity, which is on the rise. Research suggests that eating a diet with substantial monounsaturated fats ( which are found in avocados)  and complex carbohydrates may help improve sensitivity to insulin.

I recently read an article about why eating avocados can help regulate blood sugar spikes and thus play a role in  helping to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. I found it very interesting because not long ago I ran a post about how eating nuts helps regulate insulin levels. There seems to be a correlation between eating good fats and regulating blood sugar.

Unfortunately, fat has gotten a bad reputation in the last 15 years. Many manufactured low fat foods have become higher in sugar and salt to compensate for the loss of taste.However, not all fat is bad for you. In fact , our bodies need good fats. Especially our brains which are composed of 60% fat.
Monounsaturated fats found in avocados are good for you and necessary for a healthy body.

The Article  also stated that in the last few years the incidence of type two diabetes in adults and kids has risen 40%. That is scary. We are finding out that the typical American diet creates a society of overweight undernourished Americans who are candidates for many degenerative diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure etc. The sad part is that most people, instead of correcting their diet and exercising, have begun to accept taking medication to regulate blood sugar, to lower blood pressure as a way of life; these medications are not without side affects.

In addition, I've read other information that suggests that manufacturers add sugars, starches, and other addicting substances to our processed foods to make them addicting. This is problematic because once our palates get used to foods with high sugar and high salt contents, it's hard to develop a taste for more natural lower sugar and salt foods. It seems the more sugar and salt we eat, the more we want. This has become a major concern with young children, who prefer processed foods over the more natural healthy foods.

Kids regularly eat breakfast cereals ( and it's not just the sugary ones that are high in sugar and poor quality carbohydrates) , fast food, desserts, snacks etc. What they need to eat are real foods that are not manufactured in a factory which include fresh vegetables, hot oatmeal, avocados, nuts ( if allowed) and fruit for snacks, instead of packaged foods.

The Director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, David L Katz was quoted saying that the good fats in avocados can help your body use glucose properly so damaging spikes in blood sugar can be prevented.
                            

But weight control is also an important factor in controling insulin sensitivity and diabetes and avocados are caloric  They should be added to meals sensibly. \. According to the article, avocado is best used by the body  when a few slices are added to a salad, eaten as a condiment, or used to replace mayonnaise. It is not suggested that diabetics consume an entire avocado at a sitting.

Photo
mashed avocado, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped celery ,lemon juice, fresh pressed garlic, chopped  parsley
Read these articles for additional information and recipes;
 benefits of eating avocado


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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why I Drink Lemon Water Every Day

                                                     


Drinking a cup of warm or hot lemon water when you first wake up can be a vital part of your health regime. It's a simple thing to do , yet it can you detox harmful chemicals , balance your pH, and help digestion. In addition, lemons contain significant amounts of vitamin C and potassium.

One of the things on my daily to-do list is to drink a cup of hot lemon water upon waking and then drink an additional  two 32 ounce mason jars of lemon water throughout the day. I fill the first jar as soon as I wake up in the morning.

                              

Lemon water helps flush the body of toxins and helps the liver do its job more efficiently.

No matter how careful we are with our diets and lifestyle, we are exposed to many chemicals in the air, in our food, in food containers, pollution, dental fillings, etc.

I feel like the daily lemon water helps my body stay cleaner and takes some of the burden off my liver.

It's easy to drink because it tastes refreshing. I drink one jar in the morning and then another in the afternoon. I always drink mine at room temperature. You don't want it too cold, as it shocks your system.

                            

Benefits of Lemons: 

1.  High in Vitamin C which is a great immune system booster especially during flu season

2.  High in potassium which can help control blood pressure

3.  Very Alkaline- which can help balance your PH and keep your body from becoming acidic which is can be a breeding ground for disease. Although lemon seems like an acid, it is actually very alkaline in the body.

4.  Helps with digestion

5.  Helps keep urinary tract healthy

Since a balanced PH is essential for a healthy body, lemon water is a great way to help bring more alkalinity to the body. 


  • My husband loves lemon and he put lemon juice in all of his food. Fresh lemon gives everything a delicious flavor.


  • If you are dieting and need to make sure that you drink enough water to flush out toxins, drink lemon water. Stored toxins can cause bloat.
  • If you have a cold or sore throat, it is sometimes suggested to drink hot water with lemon and honey. The honey will coat the throat and can be very soothing as well as being antiseptic. The lemon is astringent and can help shrink swollen tissue.
  • If you have dandruff, some say it is helpful to rinse your hair after shampooing with 1/4 cup lemon juice in a 12 ounces of water. This can help balance the pH of the scalp and assist with dandruff. 


My formula: 

Juice of a 1/2 lemon in a large mug of water

Juice of 1 lemon in a 32 ounce mason jar of water


Disclaimer: Always check with your doctor before trying anything new. The information in the blog is for educational purposes only.



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