Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Gluten-Free Almond Flour cookbook Review

I'll be honest with you, since I've moved to Parksville I've been having a lot of gluten contamination issues, which makes for a very bloated very grumpy girl who has no interest in cooking or baking at all. Not exactly the perfect match for a food blog writer! Things appear to be getting a bit better and I think (still not sure yet) that I've narrowed it down to some allergy medication that I've been taking since I moved here. It's tricky trying to find out if a drug is gluten free because the Pharmacists tend not to want to look it up for you and when you call the drug hot lines it's always after hours because their based on the east coast, so then you write them and they tell you that they make too many things, call their hot line with the serial number. It's annoying to say the least.

Amongst all this on a slightly rainy and windy day, my boyfriend and I were exploring the local bookstores in search of warm shelter and entertain
ment. In one of those bookstores I found this book "the Gluten-Free Almond Flour cookbook" by Elana Amsterdam. It's filled with yummy sounding recipes, great looking pictures and colour. I hate cookbooks that are in black and white without any photographs. Half of cooking is eating with your eyes and if you can't see what something is supposed to look like, how do you know you've done a good job? So this book, with it's very pretty cover, satisfied my visual needs, which is the first thing you need to do if I'm going to actually take the book from the shelf to the sales person.

If you want me to recommend it, well it has to be good and this is good. In her book Elana explains that Almond Flour is a super food which is high in protein but low in carbohydrates and sugar compared to regular baking and gluten free flours. It also has a lot more minerals that our bodies need too. She also uses Agave Nectar as the sweetener in all of her recipes. I tried looking it up to see how good it really is, but it seems there are some controversies around it. Some people vote it's fantastic, others say that it would be except for the way it's processed, and yet more people say the processing info that the anti-agave people are using is out of date and no longer applicable. So you can be the judge, but it does appear to be lower on the glycemic index then other options, which means it's better than just dumping in sugar. So with high protein, low sugar and carbohydrate ingredients, these recipes are all much healthier for us than our regular gluten-free foods. The biggest key if you are watching your weight is still moderation, but if have that craving for dessert I'd look for the almond flour version.

The recipes are healthy, check. Now the other part is that they are super easy to make! I've made carob chip scones, skillet apple pie, salmon dill burgers, sun dried tomato spinach tart and vegetable quiche so far, and all of those recipes took very little time and tasted fantastic. I haven't gotten to the delicious looking cakes yet, because one thing that Elana n
otes is that Bob's Redmill Almond Meal/Flour is too course for her recipes and it's the only stuff I can get around here. So I'm sticking with the recipes that wouldn't really need a finer flour for now. She does provide a few online places to get the ingredients you will need and I'm going to check them out. It's harder to find what I like here and more expensive. On initial search it costs $16.99 for 1lb of Almond Flour here or I can by the same size bag online for $6.99. Even with shipping and handling I'll save a buck or two.

So if you are looking for something that will satisfy your sinful cravings and be a lot healthier for you than what you'd normally eat (and take half the time to prepare), I highly recommend Elana Amsterdam's the Gluten-Free Almond Flour cookbook.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Turkey Chili

Last week it was quite cold here. Since it is our first month in a new place we have been trying to keep the heat low and wear a lot of sweaters, slippers and blankets to keep warm, as we are worried about what our first gas bill will be like. So this meant a lot of warm food too. Things like warm baked casseroles, cornbread hot from the oven, cinnamon and raisin bread (first bread I've ever bothered to make after almost 3 years of baking gluten free and it was a mix, tasty though!) still steaming at the first slice, pot roast with warm gravy and of course chili. I make chili quite a bit in the summer to dehydrate and turn into camping food, but this time I thought I'd try something a little different.

I've also been attempting that whole meal planning thing. You know, actually deciding on what you are going to make for dinner for the whole week, not just that night, and then shopping for it. It's in hopes to cut down my food bills and trips to the grocery store. Most people have shoe addictions, I have grocery store addictions. The whole thing is a work in process and a bit of a learning curve, but it seems to be working. When I was thinking of making chili last week and we already had burgers and steak that same week, I thought I wanted to mix up the meat source a bit and go from beef to poultry. Vegetarian crossed my mind, but I like hearty meat dishes in the winter and light vegetarian dishes in the summer ... so in the spring (now-ish) I can never really make up my mind what I want.

This turkey chili is quick and easy to make and tasty too!

Turkey Chili

-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
-1 Onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons Garlic, minced
-1 pound of ground Turkey
-1 tablespoon of Chili Powder
-1 tablespoon of Chipotle Chile Powder
-1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
-1 teaspoon of Cumin
-1/2 teaspoon of Red Chili Pepper Flakes
-1 teaspoon Oregano
-1 can of Tomato Sauce (28 oz)
-1 can of Diced Tomatoes (28 oz)
-1 can of Black Beans (15 oz)
-1 can of Kidney Beans (15 oz)
-1 can of Chick Peas (15 oz)
-1 can of Sliced Mushrooms
-1 Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
-1/2 cup of frozen Corn
- Cilantro
- Grated Cheese

To make, heat oil in a large pot. Add onions, garlic and ground turkey. Cook until there is no more pink in the turkey and onions are soft. Then start adding in your spices and your cans of vegetables and fresh/frozen vegetables in any order you like. Stir well and let simmer for 30 minutes. Just enough time to bake yourself some tasty cornbread to go with it! Garnish with cilantro and grated cheese.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Good byes and new beginnings

These past few weeks have been pretty crazy. We had a moving company come and pack all of our stuff for us and move us ups island, but there was still a lot of things we had to do prior to that. We had goodbyes to say and people to see, we played host to a friendly guest (who's plans were made prior to us finding out we had to move) and some of our own packing preparations to do. It was chaos.

In fact, it's still chaos. Once we were here our moving company dropped off our stuff one day, and then came back the next to unpack. If I had to do it all over again, I'd skip the unpacking part! Their version of unpacking meant opening up all the boxes and putting the contents of those boxes on the floors and on counters and everywhere else in between. Obviously we put things away, but it would have been less chaotic to do one room at a time and / or one box at a time. For days we've been walking around a labyrinth of stuff all over our floors, but it's slowly coming together as item by item everything gets put in it's new home.

I'm excited about my new kitchen as the oven seems (so far) to bake well. It didn't not burn my cinnamon raisin bread (Bob's Redmills) this morning and it didn't make mushy Yorkshire Pudding (Celimix) last night. There is a lot of light for pictures and a lot more counter space to actually work.
I'm also excited about the new location. Town isn't too far away and I'm so close to nature. Last night I fell asleep to frogs singing and this morning I watched 3 deer walk by my front doorstep. There is a marina only a few minutes away where I've already seen some cormorants, a seal and a sea otter! Too bad the weather was miserable at the time, otherwise I would have had my camera with me to capture it all.

This place is new and shiny and exciting, but I will definitely miss my family and friends back in Victoria. My work family did the most amazing thing for me before I left. They threw me a gluten free potluck lunch. They placed an order at the new dedicated gluten free bakery (Origin Bakery) and made homemade dips, fruit and veggies to go with. Then they got my supervisor to trick me into thinking I had to go on some last minute inspection and when I went looking for him to leave I checked the lunch room / board room, which was dark. As it was dark I thought I was interrupting a teleconference meeting, but when I was pushed in the room by my cubicle neighbour I was pleasantly surprised as the lights went on and most of my co-workers where there waiting to say goodbye and waiting to dig in the gluten free buffet! They said everything was safe for me to eat, so they didn't have to fill out any of my ingredient cards that I normally make them fill out. It was fantastic. I was so blown away by how much they care and by the quality of food. Of course, I have to share! (I apologize for the quality of the pictures, you can only do so much with our cameras at work!)

The spread! Bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, chips and dips (tuna, salmon, egg, artichoke), more bread with bruschetta topping, fruit, vegetables, cupcakes and cookies!

Pepita loaf on top, focaccia bread on the left, followed by plain baguette and oat baguette. I used to be a fan of Panne Rizzo's Focaccia because of the savory toppings, but I'm a convert to the Origin Bakery verison now as it does not crumble and fall apart like the Panne Rizzo's. Everyone was surprised at how gluten free bread could taste sooooo good! I swear I was eating real bread!

The yummiest cupcakes around. The chocolate cupcakes were dense and yummy where the lemon cupcakes were light and fluffy lemon flavored angel food cake. Both had a yummy but not to sweet butter cream icing. Delicious!

I bet you didn't think that fruit could look so good!?

A variety of cookies that are all soft and chewy without falling apart in your mouth!

This was the best surprise a Celiac could ever get!!