Aprovechar

Taking the full measure of life

Health, Food Allergy, & Sustainability Tidbits for You

February 3rd, 2009 · 8 Comments

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It’s been about a hundred years since I did a tidbits post.  I kid you not when I say that I had about 200—two hundred!—tabs open in Firefox that I needed to go through and close yesterday.  Some of those were links I was considering sharing with you. Here are a few of the best just in time for your afternoon procrastination (or, you know, whenever else you happen to read this).

I love hot chocolate. Lurrrrrrve hot chocolate.  But it really hasn’t been the same without dairy.  The dairy subs I’ve tried using leave the drink too chocolatey . . . not quite smooth enough.  Angela’s Kitchen has a slow-cooker recipe for dairy-free hot chocolate that combines coconut milk with other milk alternatives to give it a creamy texture.  I plan on taking this recipe on my church’s young adults retreat at the end of February.

Kate at Gluten-Free Gobsmacked is busy making all sorts of yummy treats while she waits for the call to go pick up her new daughter from Korea.  She’s created a gluten-free homemade Oreo recipe—it does call for an egg, though I wonder if Ener-G egg replacer might work in this case—that looks divine.

This recession is hard, in one way or another, on many of us. (I say this as my husband gets dressed to go to a job fair for Ph.D. students from his school.  Graduating this coming summer may put him in the worst of it. Most places where he wants to apply have hiring freezes.)  The recession is very hard on a small (so far) percentage of us, and we shouldn’t forget that in this time of collective need, there are those who especially need our care and concern.  It’s an important time to make sure we help our neighbors through person-to-person contact and donations to nonprofits who help those in need.  It’s also important to consider what the recession might offer us.  After all, sometimes bad news turns out to be the news that teaches us what we needed to learn.  Helen at Stripy Sock Studio considers this idea in her post “Sometimes A Step Backwards Is Progress.”

When I say ‘your elevator story’ in terms of business, do you know what I mean? It’s the version of why you’re doing what you’re doing that you can give someone who asks you between the time the elevator shuts on one floor and opens on another.  I struggle with that type of thinking/speaking, because so much of life is nuanced and has a major backstory.  (When people ask me how I found out I had food allergies and gluten intolerance, I have to start out with the fact that my husband was hit by a car, since that’s what ‘woke up’ my body to giving me the worst symptoms.  That inevitably derails the conversation for twenty minutes while we talk about his terrible accident.) I often struggle to explain the process of finding out gluten intolerance (how the gluten content of wheat has changed over time, why I went with a nontraditional test in the end, etc.) without feeling like I sound a bit nutty.  So I was very pleased to find and read The Gluten Connection by Dr. Shari Lieberman, which explains about as concisely as possible why gluten intolerance (and often casein intolerance) is at the heart of so many medical problems in today’s world.  Dr. Lieberman may at times go a bit far in her projections of gluten as the cause of various issues, but it’s certainly true that people struggling with many issues may find health relief in removing gluten/casein, even if gluten isn’t the cause of some of their issues.  Dr. Lieberman also explains why the diagnostic process I went through is valid—and why traditional tests for celiac miss so many of us who are gluten intolerant.  If you’ve thought gluten intolerance might be an issue for you or you struggle to explain it to others like I have, I highly recommend this book!

I found this article about when to quit (and how entrepreneurs may differ from the rest of us about quitting) both comforting and thought-provoking. Many of us walk through life struggling regularly with that question as it arises in various facets of our lives.

Those of us who are working to lead healthier, more sustainable lives for our own good and the good of the rest of the planet have to think about myriad issues.  One of the issues that hasn’t gotten my appropriate attention yet is the origin of my clothes.  Neatorama has a great post entitled “Meet the People Who Made Your Clothes.”  It would do us all good to understand what we’re asking for when we seek out the best ‘bargain’, and to understand why—when it’s possible for us—it’s important to invest in other people’s welfare as well as our own.

Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food authors because he makes me think, has a great article in the NYT about reconsidering some of the kitchen staples and their alternatives.  He gets a lot of flack in the comments from people who think he’s being elitist, but truly, many of his suggestions are not expensive or very time-consuming, and they do often equal tastier food. Many of us on the path to healthier lives have found that extending the time we’re willing to be involved in food prep means we can be more satisfied with our food, bodies, and lives in the long run, and that’s the approach Bittman often takes. I don’t always agree with his thoughts, but I always consider my own views and habits more deeply when I read his articles. If you wonder if your relationship with food and food prep could use a bit of tweaking, I highly recommend Bittman’s article “Fresh Start for the New year? Let’s Begin in the Kitchen.”

With a ginger-adoring husband, I have intended to alter Heidi’s triple-ginger cookies to make the recipe gluten-free and egg-free.  I haven’t gotten around to it, and we won’t be doing it in February.  If another ginger lover who’s gluten-free or egg-free out there whips some up and they turn out well, please let me know what you did!

The White House released the menu and recipes from the inaugural luncheon, which I thought was really cool. How often do you have any idea what people are eating at those functions, much less have the option to try the recipes at home?)

Chefs who focus on locally grown, sustainable food sources are pushing Obama to take measures to improve U.S. food policy and support small farmersEat the View is a project that’s pushing for the President and First Lady (or more accurately, their staff) to grow an organic food garden on the White House lawn, as Eleanor Roosevelt previously did. I would love the symbolism in a White House organic food garden! (You can sign the petition at the site.) Seeing action in these directions would be a dream come true for me. (I am a sustainability geek AND a food geek, after all.)

Babycakes is a gluten-free, allergen-free bakery in NYC—a mecca for many of us who are avoiding certain foods.  Martha Stewart had the Babycakes owner on her show to share recipes.  You can see the video and get the brownies recipe on Martha’s blog.

Two studies have found significant mercury in high-fructose corn syrup.  (Apparently, mercury can be a side effect of the process of making HFCS.)  So much for ‘safe in moderation’ as those awful ads would have you believe.

Select Wisely offers a set of customizable food allergy cards that you can get in a variety of languages.  I wish they had a gluten option to add to a regular card, but in general, I’m pleased to see them recognize multiple food allergies.  When I visited Japan, my husband had a Japanese friend write out my food restrictions in Japanese on a card we laminated; while I was there, I met a guy who had the same type of homemade laminated card because he was a vegan. Those cards were lifesavers for both of us.

I can’t usually tell you whether foods I make will get a kid’s stamp of approval, since it’s generally just me and my husband (or our adult friends) eating the foods.  But when I made this vegan, soy-free, nooch-free mac and cheese (I made it with gf pasta), we had two friends visiting along with their 3-year-old son.  The boy can be a picky eater at times, but he gobbled up the mac and cheese with no comments about it tasting weird.  So if you’re looking for ways to slip more veggies into your kids’ diets and/or lighten up your mac and cheese, check out that recipe.

Whew—I think that’s it for now.

Tags: allergen-free recipes · dessert · gratitude · locavore · vegetarian

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hannah Celeste // Feb 3, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Nice post, Sally!

    Those HFCS ads make me shudder. Hehe.

    I am definitely trying that hot chocolate with coconut milk, and last night I made some GF/LF/egg free cookies and I thought of you. They’re chai-flavored (with cardamom/mace/cinnamon/etc). I used that non-hydrogenated organic shortening (have you used that?) It’s great for GF pie crusts and such.

    I still haven’t been allergy tested (probably because it means I’d have to change something if I had an allergy). Oye vey. But I will. Thankfully I grew up with parents who care about those things, although they aren’t consistent about it (neither am I…probably less so).

    I definitely wish your husband luck with his graduation and the ensuing job search. I have no doubt you folks will figure it out. You’re very resourceful and in tune with yourselves.

    Happy ‘Hump’ Day.

    :D

    HCSQ

  • 2 Ricki // Feb 3, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Now I want to read ALL of those (but I’ll start with the Bittman and the mac and cheese). Thanks for the links. And good luck to Dan at the job fair!

  • 3 Kara // Feb 4, 2009 at 8:28 am

    You know, Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has really become my go-to cookbook. The Science Teacher likes it because the recipes aren’t as crunchy as the Moosewood ones. But, especially in light of your new macro. experiment, you should listen to the interview Bittman gave a few days ago on On Point (http://www.onpointradio.org). He’s talking about his new book and calls for people to “eat vegan until 6 pm” and to generally eat more meals “veganish.”

    Nice post!

  • 4 Cherie // Feb 4, 2009 at 10:29 am

    No chocolate?! Can you not do chocolate bars that have been made on shared equipment? Xoxo Chocolate Love has a cherries & almonds dark chocolate that is good, as do many raw chocolate companies, and those are healthier, as they are raw and sweetened with agave. Raw Chocolate Love, Gnosis, and Oasis come to mind.

  • 5 Cherie // Feb 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I realized later that you were talking specifically about hot chocolate; I’m sorry!! I read your post wrong.

  • 6 margaret // Feb 5, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I want to read all the links (and just had to stop cause really I have to get some work done!) . So far the hot chocolate and the oreo’s look wonderful. Martha Stewart’s website also had a link t0 a breakfast cinnamon bread from the babycakes bakery (http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/allergen-free-cinnamon-toasties?autonomy_kw=allergen-free&rsc=header_2) — it turned out great.

  • 7 Alisa (@ Go Dairy Free) // Feb 6, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    That looks so much like the hot chocolate I make, but I have never tried it in a slow cooker. Nice touch, will have to try that!

    Thanks for all of the “bites.”

  • 8 Margaret // Feb 23, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Oreos work with a flax egg replacer and are really, really GOOD!

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